Flatiron #5. North Ridge Route, 5.4

Boulder Flatiron #5
North Ridge Route, 5.4

by Lloyd Garrick

The Fifth is the Southernmost of the major Boulder Flatirons. It is easily recognized by it's unique shape, symmetrical and with a sharp vertical spire summit; from some perspective angles it resembles a church steeple or cathedral. It will catch your eye the first time you see it. It is situated somewhat higher than the other flatirons on the mountain. It is a relatively easy climb, very impressive, and a Boulder Classic, yet for some reason it does not see many climbers. This may be due to the not-so-fun access and descent trails.

You take the Royal Arch trail from Chatauqua Park, and just before the Arch, head right into an unmarked and not easy to find ascent trail. (It is best for your 1st time to go with someone who knows it). A short, steep hike / semi-scramble will take you to the base of the Flatiron. At this point you have ascended about 1200 feet from the trailhead and should have a nice pre-climb workout.

This climb was this year's annual trip to the 5th Flatiron by the Colorado Mountain Club. Gary Price led the route, and I was joined by fellow member Kris Ferguson. Jill Yarger led another team of 3 up a neighboring route, and we all met at the top.

On the approach trail from Chatauqua the 5th Flatiron is easily seen. It is a bit of an effort to get there from here, but there is really no other way and it is worth it!

The sharp point of the 5th stands out; part(s) of the 4th Flatiron(s) are also seen to the right.
From the base it looks easy enough to just run up! Note the angle; like most of the flatirons it is about 55 degrees. From a distance (as in the picture above) they often look much steeper than they are. The top is not visible here, it is over and past what you see.

Our route heads up to and past that tree.

This climb was 4 pitches. The first two and the fourth relatively short, the third about normal. It is not a long climb, but with 6 people and the not-so-fun access and return trails, we were out there 10 hours.

A true perspective of the incline angle. All of them are the same!
Looking North from the first pitch. A nice view of Flatiron #3 and part of #4.
An interesting view of the Royal Arch just below us.

Looking East from the 1st pitch.

Gary led our team and belayed me, I followed and cleaned (most of) the pro, and then belayed Kris up.

Note the angle and texture of the rock - classic Flatiron.
Here in the distance you see Jill on the Southern route leading her team.
Looking down the rock to the Arch.

And a zoom-in shot of the Arch from P1.
The main part of 4th Flatiron here; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd seen in the distance.

North from 2nd pitch.

The Arch was visible throughout the climb, and at the summit, although it kept getting smaller. We heard hikers down there constantly throughout the climb, and also at the summit! Sound does carry up these rocks.

The Arch from P2. There were lots of hikers out that day, and we heard them.
South from the second pitch, looking towards NCAR.