Flatirons Bouldering
Story & Photos by Andy Mann

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In the 1980's and early 90's American sport climbing took off and with it the forest was quiet once again.  An exception was one local, a young boulderite, named Bob Horan.  Bob was certainly one of the first to dedicate his prime years of climbing to searching the forest over.  It was Green and Bear Mountain that particularly stole the imagination of Horan, as he quickly saw the unlimited potential in the red sandstone gullies and hillsides.  Horan is responsible for digging deeper than anyone before him and documenting new boulders and areas, some an hour-plus from the car.  Bob was more often than not on solo missions.


Matt Wilder working the Flatiron's last great project, “The PB Arete” V14?

By the mid 1990’s, bouldering was back.  Matt Samet, Paul Glover, Jay Droger, Scott Renneck, Jim Baldwin, Phillip Benningfield, Pete Zoller, among many others, put up a host of problems, most notably classic highball lines that eluded pre-pad boulderers.  Around this time the forest captured the imagination of yet another important Flatiron devotee, Will Lemaire.  Will's name has become synonymous with obscure Frontrange bouldering, and was a mentor of mine for many years as I trolled around the forest in search of new rock.  There was one fall season in 2004 where it seemed the further I pushed into the forest, the more fresh chalk I'd see.  “Will was just there yesterday” I would hear at the gym as I search around for answers. “Ask Will about those boulders” they'd say to about every question I asked regarding any new bouldering I had found.  They were almost always right.

Will was responsible for many hard, often frustratingly technical (read: brutal heel hooking, fierce pebble crimping, sick pinching SKILLS) Flatiron's problems, including most notably the area's finest V10 problem, “Black Ice.”  On the heels of Will, I would have to say that things are quiet in the way of new exploration and new problems in the Flatirons.  A few new areas pop up every couple years (thanks to Will), and everyone takes a small taste and moves on for the lichen to grow back.  Still, fresh, classic, hard problems remain undiscovered as new generations of boulderers look elsewhere for them.  A quiet forest, just as I like it.

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