Pellaea Flatiron, Nebel Horn Mountain

Pellaea Flatiron (5.5)
Nebel Horn Mountain

by Lloyd Garrick

Leader: Bruce Immele
Climbers: Lloyd Garrick, Keith Matney, Steve Blazo

Nebel Horn mountain is next to Bear mountain in Boulder, two of the most noticeable landmarks in the area. It is distinguished by the prominant "hook" like feature of the Nebel Horn ridge right at the top, and a whole bunch of relatively small, and not-so-often climbed, flatiron formations which adorn the East face. Fern Canyon runs up between them.

On the left a zoom view from across the lake in Arvada near my humble condo. On the right an extreme zoom.

Nebel Horn mountain is in the center, Pellaea rock is the slab at the most left and high.

Get yourself into Fern Canyon, and shortly before reaching the saddle point you will see a large rock on the right. That's it. A not-very-obvious access trail veers off sharply to the right and back, while Fern Canyon trail continues foreward and to the left. The access trail is very steep and rocky, but also very short. The base is only 50 yards or so off the trail.

Pellaea base
And here it is, nestled in a thick wooded area. Looks like any other flatiron, about the same incline, but the rock is much smoother than others, very good friction, not much for your hands.

Bruce takes the lead on P1

The first pitch is the longest, yet still a rather short pitch - there will be plenty of rope left if you are using a 60m. It has one crux, just to the left of this little rock outcrop. The rock is a little steeper here, and smoother - hard to grab anything and friction not so good. But it's not hard - just fun.

P1 crux (5.6)
Of course when you actually get to it there are things to grab and help you get over it
Looking down into Fern Canyon from the P1 belay point. Look closely - you can see part of the trail.

Fern Canyon from P1

It is a "classic" flatiron climb - you use your feet mostly with friction, and this rock is excellent for that. Not much to do with your hands except a little balancing. There are many tiny holes and ledges for your fingertips. The second pitch is a little shorter than the first, and somewhat easier as there is a prominant crack formation in the middle of it.

P2 crack looking up

P2 crack looking down
Keith waits his turn

Fern Canyon from P2
Fern Canyon seen from the P2 belay. Looks the same as before, just a little farther away. The trail is better seen, and more of it.
As you are climbing, the massive formation to your right is the Fiddlehead formation.

Back side of Fiddlehead

More of the right view, Fiddlehead and part of Onoclea and the Goose (I think) from the P2 belay: