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Mass Ascent: First Annual Assault of Flatiron

June 6th, 2011

Have you ever had a spectacularly bad idea, then been assured by many of it’s apparent terribleness, only to push headlong towards impending catastrophe? Me too.

The following video shares just 4 minutes from the 480+ total minutes of heat exhaustion, blistering and simultaneous climbing that took place last summer. It was a fool’s errand, especially if the fools went on an 8-hour shopping spree at “Dolts R Us” and “Pain-Mart”.

I readily talked 25-people into joining me on a sunrise jaunt up the 1,000-feet of slabby sandstone that comprises the iconic first Flatiron. Later I would find it impossible for these same people to return my calls.

At 8 a.m., as Frosty limbered up the group, a 4-lb steel water bottle ricocheted down the face, dropped 200’ above by buttery, “manslaughter fingers.” It penetrated the group but not any of its members. It was sickening and a few departed immediately with “fear-poisoning”.

The 20 remaining intrepid climbers (read: lemmings) soldiered onward and upward at a snails pace, albeit a snail on smack. We placed competent belayers at seven fixed anchors, tied multiple ropes together, with climbers spaced at 35-foot intervals and allowed the simul-suffering to begin. The summit, though horribly dehydrated, was sweet as it meant we could stop going up. We lowered and rappelled posthaste to avoid an imminent, late afternoon, Rocky Mountain electrocution.

For days after horror stories filtered in, of bloodied knees and knuckles, blistered heels and fingertips, even toenails falling off. They reports often included the caveat, “at least I never have to climb with you again.” We agreed to meet en masse for a post-climb ablution in Boulder Creek, and with libations we recounted and laughed. Not so much chortling, think more the head-shake snicker, which indicates both a non-verbal no, as in, “no, please make it stop,” and a tacit disbelief that anything, like what just took place, was even possible. Whether visionary or incendiary or both, they didn’t tell me it couldn’t be done but just that it shouldn’t.

Is anyone in for the 2nd Annual? Me too.

Written by Timmy O’Neill

Film by James Aikman

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