Two 5.7 Flatiron climbs to the tops of two small pinnacles
The Thing, also known as Morning After and Needle's Eye, is a small Flatiron just a bit southwest of the Third Flatiron. Roach deems the 480 foot East Face route a classic. Here Dominic is leading off on the first pitch, slab climbing on thin holds (5.3 - 5.4).
Dominic taking advantage of one of the limited protection opportunities on the first pitch. He placed two pieces total. The tree above him is the next belay anchor. The large overhang just past the tree is the crux of the route.
Dominic pondering protection choices while faced with the short overhanging crux (5.7). It was a piece of cake.
Easy (5.0 - 5.2) climbing up a neat crack. The tree Dominic is belaying from was infested with attack ants!
Dominic leading the slabby (5.0 - 5.2) final pitch, the easiest of the three.
The Third Flatiron from near the top of The Thing.
It was a cloudy and foggy morning and the views were constantly changing. This is looking east over Boulder from near the summit of The Thing.
Dominic belaying me as I finish up the climb.
Soaring above the Third Flatiron and the clouds on The Things's East Face.
Willy B, an interesting rock pinnacle to the west. I have no idea how it got its name, but it was next on our agenda. Roach claims that it is one of the most difficult Flatiron summits to reach.
Dominic peering through a large hole in the summit of The Thing. This feature is probably why the pinnacle is sometimes referred to as Needle's Eye.
After rappelling south off of The Thing it was a short scramble over to Willy B. We chose to climb unroped up some unexposed, easy (5.0 - 5.2) terrain to reach the base of what Roach describes as the second pitch of The Swing Time route.
Dominic leading our first roped pitch on the east face of Willy B. We first climbed up the crack in the left facing dihedral (4th class) and then traversed to where Dominic is standing (5.3). At this point one must overcome the overhang ahead to continue up the otherwise easy east face. This series of moves gets a 5.8 S rating and is not for us. The Swing Time route swings out onto the exposed south (left) face of the pinnacle and traverses a narrow ramp before rejoining the east face.
Dominic belaying me as I traverse the narrow, exposed ramp on the south face. The climbing here isn't too difficult, but the exposure really gets your attention.
Dominic is standing at the end of the ramp under the point at which we regained the east face. We aren't sure whether we were on route or not, but if we were it was some crazy stiff 5.7 climbing. What we did was in no way comparable to the 5.7 crux on The Thing. I belayed Dominic from a tiny cave and we were able to set it up so I could catch a fall nicely... and that I did... more than once. Dominic first tried one option but after a couple of attempts he just couldn't pull it off (close though). Then he tried a second option just a bit lower on the ramp and backed off it too. The rock in this area was the worst I've seen in the Flatirons. Holds were hollow and some broke. Maybe the hold that made the route 5.7 is gone??? Ultimately he liked the upper option better because even though it was overhanging and funky, the holds were better. He ended up doing a bit of aiding to pull through it. I squirmed my way up it in fits without using the aid, but a very tight rope helped!
Edit: After studying pictures and route descriptions more, we realized we were off route. The standard exit from the south face ramp is much earlier on.
The impressive Willy B as seen from the bottom of the rappel on its west side. Dominic is on top, preparing for the extremely awkward start to the rappel. The bolts and chains are placed too close to the lip of an overhang and we ended up sacrificing a cordalette to form a foot hold to step down onto before beginning the rappel. Dominic tried his best to reteive it from the bolt after he'd made the step but was unsuccessful. We did pick up a biner somebody had used to bail from below the crux though so I guess we're even with Willy B.
Dominic rappelling down the west side of Willy B. The rock was plastered with vibrantly colored lichen.
Dominic passing by The Thing's impressive north face on the way back to the base of its east face.