February 12, 2015
The flatirons that sit above Boulder, Colorado are one of the most iconic images of the Colorado Front Range. They are also one of my favorite places for rock climbing. A absolute classic, the First Flatiron is perched above the world-famous Chautauqua Park, and rumor has it that there are killer views at the top. A couple of my very talented climbing buddies, Charley Mace and Timmy O’Neill, joined me for a little adventure a few weeks ago. While some may think it impossible to rock climb in Colorado in January, we are lucky in that our winters often include “blue bird” days: warm temperatures under a cloudless sky that lasts the whole day. Needless to say, we were stoked for the opportunity to get in such a climb on a beautiful day in the middle of winter. Even with a perfectly warm and cloudless day, there was one weather element we did not anticipate. THE WIND! Thankfully, I was climbing with two guys who deserve their own category in the world of experienced climbers.
Photo: Erik and Charley
Charley and Timmy each have incredible backgrounds, both on and off the mountain. Charley has climbed several high Himalayan peaks, including K2 and Everest. He is also a Senior Advisor at No Barriers and founder of Soldiers to Summits (now No Barriers Warriors). Timmy O’Neill not only has several hundred climbs of the First Flatiron to his credit, but he also does great work with the adaptive sports organization, Paradox Sports, which has a mission to improve people’s lives by creating physical adaptive sport communities built to inspire.
Photo: Erik and Timmy
Our climb started off like any other climb, Timmy, our fearless and crazy leader for the day, told jokes and took some awesome photos of Charley and I making our way up the rock. It was a picture-perfect day until we arrived at the ridge and were assaulted by 50-60 mph wind gusts, perhaps the most hellacious wind I have ever experienced on the Flatirons. We could barely stand up, and felt like flags being beaten by the wind. It brought to mind the classic positive pessimisms from my friend, Chris Morris. He would probably say, “Sure is windy up here, but at least our climbing rope is blowing in the air like a kite.” It was a bummer that the wind prevented us from relaxing at the top of our climb, but it certainly made the climb that much more memorable. Big thanks to Timmy and Charley for joining me on such a fun and blustery adventure.