The author expressly disclaims any and all warranties, express and implied, that any information contained herein is accurate. There are no warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This guide should never be considered a substitute for professional instruction or years of experience making smart climbing decisions. Your use of the Flagstaff Mountain Bouldering Guide indicates that you are: (1) assuming the risk that errors exist in this guide; and (2) acknowledging that your safety while climbing and bouldering on Flagstaff Mountain and elsewhere is solely your responsibility.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Using This Blog-Guide

The Basics:
This blog-guide has a new format. The front page, which you are now viewing, is for general information only. To view individual miniguides, click on the QUICKLINKS TO FLAGSTAFF MOUNTAIN MINIGUIDES on the right to access photos and guides to different areas of the mountain OR use the Google search tool on the right to search for boulders or problems within the miniguides. If you are unfamiliar with Flagstaff Mountain, each miniguide contains explicit and independent directions to the area and photos showing the lines for the each problem. Approximately 750 problems and variations are currently described in 37 Miniguides, although a few are still under construction or revision. In the not too distant future, there will be 1,000 problems and variations in approximately 45 Miniguides. Quality ratings have been added to the miniguides to help visiting climbers with limited time select the very best problems (see the explanation of quality ratings below). This blog-guide is a work in progress, so comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome. See you out there!
Rock climbing, including bouldering, is inherently dangerous. Do not participate unless you are willing to personally assume all of the risks that climbing presents, including the risk that you will suffer serious injury or death. Falling is common in bouldering and every fall is a ground fall. Climbers risk injuring themselves and/or their spotters during each attempt. Landing on uneven ground and/or rocky terrain is a particular hazard every climber should assess before attempting any problem. Do your best to minimize your risks (see the safety section), but some hazards including loose rock, broken holds and long and/or awkward falls present risks that are often difficult to prepare for and predict.
To minimize the risk of injury, warm up on easier problems and use spotters and crashpads when bouldering. Climb with attentive and enthusiastic spotters familiar with proper spotting techniques. Consult with other climbers about the difficulty and dangers presented by problems with which you are unfamiliar and always use common sense. If you feel unsafe on a particular problem, come back some other day under better conditions, when you have better beta about the top-out or when you have stronger fingers or better endurance. Other options include bringing several spotters and a dozen crashpads or setting up a toprope. You can even choose not to come back to a particular problem or not to come back to Flagstaff Mountain at all. One beauty of climbing is that we get to make our own choices, but we must also personally accept responsibility for the risks we take and consequences we suffer.
All of Flagstaff Mountain's boulder problems are located on land managed by the City of Boulder's Open Space & Mountain Parks. The majority of the problems are located on land that has been classified as a Recreation Area in the OSMP Master Plan, which means that off-trail travel, while not encouraged, is permitted. The majority of the problems on Flagstaff Mountain are located off-trail or on social trails which are not considered officially designated trails. We should all make efforts to practice Leave No Trace, using hard erosion-resistant surfaces and rock-hopping techniques to access the boulders when feasible. Minimize your footprint by staying on established social trails when possible, taking care of the fauna, brushing off excess chalk and tickmarks that other user groups do not enjoy and cleaning up after other user groups which are largely responsible for the trash we clean up on the mountain during the annual Trash Bash. If you encounter a ranger or other user groups that we share the mountain with, always be friendly and respectful. Remember to leave the glass bottles at home, as glass is prohibited on Flagstaff Mountain. With respect to the boulders themselves, do not chip, enhance or otherwise manipulate the rock to bring a problem down to your level. After it rains, consider climbing elsewhere, as the Fountain sandstone found on Flagstaff Mountain is particularly susceptible to weakening by moisture. Most importantly, have fun!
A Very Brief History:
Climbers have been exploring the exposed Fountain sandstone boulders, walls and outcroppings on the southeast flank of Flagstaff Mountain since the 1940’s. Although there are a handful of popular routes that are regularly top-roped, Flagstaff is an immense bouldering resource with a rich history. Climbers passing through Boulder would be foolish not to venture up Flagstaff Road to try legendary time-tested moderates and testpieces put up and repeated by many of our heroes in decades gone by. Those interested in learning more about the mountain’s history will be enlightened, inspired and entertained by the section on Flagstaff in John Sherman’s “Stone Crusade: A Historical Guide to Bouldering in America.” Guidebooks with sections on Flagstaff also touch on its history, particularly Pat Ament’s "Flagstaff Mountain: A Climber's Playground," any of Ament's 5 editions of “High Over Boulder” and Phillip Benningfield’s Colorado Bouldering.
Getting There:
To reach the bouldering, drive or bike west up Baseline Road from its intersection with Broadway (AKA Highway 93) in Boulder. After 1.4 miles, just after passing over the Armstrong Bridge and passing Gregory Canyon on your left, Baseline Road makes a sweeping right hand turn and becomes Flagstaff Road. All of the boulders on Flagstaff Mountain are easily accessible from the road over the next 2.1 miles. Although the distances are reiterated in the each of the miniguides, here are some distances from the Armstrong Bridge and Gregory Canyon Road intersection to the major parking areas:
Panorama Point Parking Area ................................... 0.5 miles
Capstan Pullout ................................................... 1.2 miles
Crown Rock Parking Area ........................................ 1.6 miles
First Overhang Parking Area ….................................. 2.1 miles
When it comes to parking, use common sense. A number of additional, but small, parking areas are present, but if a sign indicates you should not park somewhere, DON'T! If you are riding a bike, be aware that no trail riding is allowed on Flagstaff Mountain. Visitors who are unfamiliar with the mountain can use the individual miniguides to coordinate their parking and approach with the areas they wish to visit. One may also reach the boulders by doing a 30 minute hike or trail-run up either of two trails that ascend the mountain from Gregory Canyon Road.
Names and Descriptions:
Historical area names, boulder names and problem names and descriptions have been used when available. Conflicts between prior problem descriptions and the real world were resolved using common sense. Among the listed problems are well over 600 previously-undocumented problems and variations. Some of these newly documented problems were undoubtedly bouldered out by various honemasters back in the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s and have merely been rediscovered and documented for the first time. The author recognizes that people have been bouldering on Flagstaff Mountain for 50+ years and has been conservative about first ascent claims by myself and others. In an effort to avoid ambiguity and obscurity, I have named walls, boulders and problems that I was unable to procure any information about. Sometimes I used descriptive names and other times I used nicknames people shared with me about areas and problems. As a general rule, I have omitted no-hands, one-handed and “circus trick” problems, although I have included a few of the more historical ones. Let me know if I've missed something obvious and good.
Difficulty Ratings:
Ratings are opinions, not facts, so please take them with a grain of salt and never get offended by them or defensive about them. Use the grades in this and other guides as a reference when deciding what problems to try. Although hundreds of Flagstaff Mountain’s problems were originally rated using the old B System, this blog-guide employs the Vermin or V System exclusively. Grades in this blog-guide currently range from VB to V13. A number of double-digit projects and problems that have broken remain for future ascents and grading. Previous guidebooks made efforts at converting the B System ratings to the V System and, as a general rule, historical ratings (e.g., their V System conversions) have been respected. However, dozens of problems have been re-rated (some up and some down) in an effort to account for weathering, broken holds, missing pebbles, poor B System to V System conversions or to adjust ratings that had little basis in reality. That said, difficulty ratings on Flagstaff Mountain have always been solid and it is the author's hope that all problems are still solidly but fairly graded. Note that on hot sunny days, many - if not most - of the problems will seem much harder than the rating suggests. If you keep an 8a scorecard or logbook, rate the problems how they felt to you, so the community can keep grades moving towards a consensus, as I do monitor the opinions of others.
Quality Ratings
Assessing a boulder problem’s quality is even more subjective than assessing its difficulty. Nevertheless, I have tried to do just that based on my experience climbing almost 900 problems on the mountain and the praise and/or condemnation of others. Each problem is given either one star or none. That said, a zero star problem in this guide can be quite nice and worth doing. The best 100 problems will be highlighted in ORANGE rather than YELLOW. For your reference, the author’s conception of a perfect boulder problem is an aesthetic line in an idyllic setting with an obvious start and finish and no rules in between. This hypothetical problem possesses clean solid rock with a user-friendly texture, provides dramatic position and exposure and requires a variety of interesting moves of consistent or increasing difficulty all above a landing area that presents a low risk of serious injury if proper safety precautions are followed. No problems on Flagstaff Mountain possess all those qualities and you are reminded that zero star problems in this guide can still be worth climbing and good. It is my hope that very few folks will be disappointed by problems receiving a star.
Potential New Problems Pending for Addition to Miniguides
Botslayer V10 - 2010 (GS)
Flipper V4 - 2010 (PJ)
Slot View V6 - 2010 (PJ)
Unnamed V? - 2010 (PJ)
The Departed V9 sds - 2009 (SA)
Face With No Hands V5 - 2006 (PJ)
West End Traverse V9 - 2009 (PB)
There Will Be Blood V10/11 sds - 2009 (PB)
Face With No Name Traverse V7 sds - 2009 (BC)
Dungeon Master V7 sds - 2009 (EH)
Dungeon & Dragons V8 sds - 2009 (AM)
Reluctant Dragon V5 sds - 2009 (MB)
Rumble in the Chungle V5 sds - 2009 (BC)