Flatiron Butte: Multiple New Routes
California, Sierra Nevada
Over three days in early July, Jonathan Schaffer and I established four new lines on Flatiron Butte's prominent east face. All routes were free-climbed ground-up, each in a single push and each about 900’ in length. To the best of our knowledge, only two of the 24 pitches we climbed had ever seen human passage; no gear was left behind on any route. From left to right:
Triple Beam Dream (5.11+)
A good yet wandering route up the southern portion of Flatiron's main face. Six mostly good pitches start off a prominent, treed ledge at the base and lead through mostly good rock. Some brief runouts are encountered, but overall the climbing is fun and protects well. While the crux lies low on the route, the most memorable section is the topout—a steep pitch that ends with an abrupt mantel onto a completely flat ledge.
Straight Flush (5.11+)
An elegant line featuring great climbing, for the most part. A junky 5.7 pitch starts things off (at the top of which we found a bail anchor; no other human traces were encountered en route) and is followed by 5.10 and 5.11 climbing along a beautiful splitter for several pitches. Some lower-angle climbing leads to steeper rock before the top.
Notorious RBG (5.11+)
RBG shares its first pitch with that of Brutus of Wyde (5.9+ A2, Binder-Harris-Holland-Hove, 2001; 5.11a, Musiyenko-Taylor, 2014), which ends at a two-bolt anchor. The route then continues straight up (where Brutus heads right) through a shit pitch to steep roof cracks on the left side of Flatiron’s main recess (an obvious, giant depression in the middle of the face). The roofs no doubt comprise the crux of the route; quality climbing along obvious and unique features leads to the top.
Throat Yogurt (5.11-)
The right side of Flatiron’s main face boasts a macro-feature defined by myriad criss-crossing gashes, slashes, and cracks. Throat Yogurtsnakes along a series of these features, generally following the most protectable terrain. The climber is granted the full granite gamut along this route, the list of which includes but is not limited to: burly roofs, run-out face, hero crack climbing, dirty holds, hollow blocks, loose choss, and quality rock. A long pitch from where the route surmounts the ridge tops out, avoiding a beautiful corner up high that might have needed a bolt.
In early August I returned to the Butte with Mike Pennings. After a repeat of Brutus, we set our sights on a north-facing rock feature set back southwest from Flatiron's summit ridge. The feature, upon which we bestowed the name Red Square, is quite evident during the descent. We climbed a line left of center, through some bad rock and up grovelly terrain for three pitches. Savory Chicken (100m, 5.11) may not be worth a repeat, but potential for other climbs exists on the face.
The next day we climbed a route on Flatiron’s lower-angle northwest face. Bodie Mike's Barbecue climbs 5.9 choss for a few pitches to gain the summit ridge.
– Pete Fasoldt
Click here for a report about another new route on Flatiron Butte in 2016.