Calculating people are usually faint-hearted, seldom capable of going to the limits.
Gamblers who have lost their nerve interest me more.
– Reinhold Messner
The Eight Summits of Green Mountain
|In the late afternoon on Saturday, 4/10/01, I went for a workout in the Flatirons above Boulder
Colorado. I speed-hiked up to the base of the First Flatiron and climbed
the First Flatironette and upper Spy unroped. Satisfied by this modest success
but thirsty for more, I retired to Andy Jensen’s house for the evening. The
conversation turned to my old, out-of-print guidebook Flatiron Classics, and
I mentioned that there are 20 miles of rock up there as measured with a rope.
Andy seemed hungry for a workout and wanted to end on the summit of Green
Mountain. I calculated that the route between his house and Green Mountain’s
summit that allowed us to spend the most time on rock was up the Fourth Flatiron
and several other nearby rocks. This trivia triggered the trip.
|At 8:30 AM Sunday morning, a small group met Andy at his house. Taking modest gear, we hiked
up to the Mesa Trail, then a few hundred yards above it to the base of the
Regency where we put on rock shoes. We climbed the Regency unroped
to the tiny summit. We down-climbed the Regency’s west side and took a few steps over to the base of the
Royal Arch Flatironette. We quickly climbed this petit prize.
|Andy asked, “Hey! Where’s the arch?”
|I replied simply, “You’re on top of it!”
|We down-climbed the arch, walked through
it and hiked down the trail several hundred yards to the base of the Fourth
Flatiron. Two summits down, and six to go. As a mysterious cloud swirled around
Green’s upper ramparts, I wondered if we might get rained out.
|We climbed the first piece of the Fourth
Flatiron, our third summit. I stayed on the elegant ridge, which
is one of my favorite places in the Flatirons, but Andy, who was training
for a June trip to Denali’s West Rib, crossed over and climbed the central
crack on the Fourth’s second piece. Visible from his house, Andy had a penchant
for this crack. We reconvened high in the crack for the journey up into the
gash between the two major summits of the Fourth’s second piece. As deep as
a Utah slot canyon, this gash is one of the most remarkable hanging gardens
above Boulder. We walked through in awe.
|All I said was, “Time to do Takin’ Care of Business boys!”
|Andy wondered, “What in the heck is Takin’ Care of Business?
Sounds like an old Bachman Turner Overdrive song.”
|“It’s one of the Top Ten climbs in that cult guidebook.
You’ll see.” A few minutes later, we heard, “Gadzooks! This is harder than I remember!”
|As the rest of us oofed up the vertical,
three-foot wide terror, I regaled the boys with the memory. “When
I first did this back in the old days, BTO was playing a concert down in Folsom
Stadium. The air was still and we could hear the tunes just fine up here.
They belted out Takin’ Care of Business during the struggle. The rhythm
got everyone going, and we cranked’ in time. I got to the top just in time
to sing the last stanza. I doubt the stadium crowd could hear me though.”
What a great tune and time! Ah, the old days…” Soon, we congregated
on the tiny summit of the second piece, our fourth summit.
||Gerry Takin’ Care of Business in the old days
|The rain threat had retreated, and
sun beamed on our backs as we rapped down and walked a few feet west to the
bottom of Challenger. We had planned to continue on the Fourth Flatiron’s
third piece, but Challenger’s allure was too much. I first climbed this sky-thrusting
rock needle in the ‘60s and named it Spaceship. When the spaceship blew up,
I renamed it Challenger. Each in his own private concentration, we tip
toed up the smooth slab. The last 100 feet to the top of Challenger is Flatiron
climbing at its best. We carefully fingered the rock’s north edge and pulled
up against the abyss. The last 10 feet rear up in a steeper sweep that would
even get the attention of a wombat. On Challenger’s summit, our fifth, we
gazed across a vast rock wonderland – Boulder’s Flatirons.
|Moments later we were even higher, on top of the Fourth Flatiron, our sixth summit.
Beyond that, we finally took our rock shoes off and strolled like gentlemen through the boulders high on
Green’s southeast ridge. We tagged Green’s east summit en route and were soon
gazing at the winter storm clouds cruising on the Continental Divide from
Green Mountain’s well-attended summit. We had gained most of the height between
Andy’s house and this point on rock. The long hike back to Andy’s house reminded
us of just how far we had come. Later, I figured that we covered 20 pitches.
We all felt “worked” by our 8-hour, 8-summit Tour de Green, but these are the days we remember.
||Our Eight Summits of Green Mountain