Story & Photos by Andy Mann
Like a Fine Maroon Wine: Boulder's Backyard Bouldering
My first experiences bouldering were solo missions into Boulder's Flatirons. Coupled with the smell of dry pine, burned sage, and a hazy view east towards Denver, sweat dripped from my brow during the summer of 2002. “On belay” belched in the westward winds as after-workers and college freshman made their way up the low angle 1000ft. Flatirons, and I trolled around the forest pulling on pebbles. Maroon Fountain Sandstone can only be found one place in the world, and I was obsessed with it. It was here that I quickly corralled the things I love most about bouldering – solitude, adventure, and first ascents.
If you travel two hours north to RMNP in the summer to go bouldering, you’re the majority. If you prefer to climb by a highway, whether at Flagstaff Mountain, Clear Creek Canyon, or Boulder Canyon, you are the majority. If you prefer to explore your backyard, sometimes a short walk from your front steps, into a vast magical forest of often-untouched giant boulders, you’re basically alone. Huh? How does this make any sense?
Austrian wonderkid, David Lama, makes the best of a winter day on the classic “Turning Point” V8.
Daniel Woods makes an early repeat of Herm Feissner's “Deluxe Festival of Flesh” (aka: Fleshfest) V10, Satellite Boulders.
Local woodsmen, Matty K, sending “Edging Edgio” V8, Dinosaur Mountain. A Bob Horan first ascent.
I have often said that if you took all the boulders in the Flatirons and grouped them together in one area, you'd have Colorado's biggest and best bouldering area. But somehow, the expansive distribution of the bouldering here keeps Flatirons bouldering off the radar. Thank God.
Light bouldering in the Flatirons most likely began in the early 60’s, when folks began tackling the adventurous routes above the forest and meanwhile the sport began its popularity a few miles north on Flagstaff Mountain. In the 1970’s, Jim Hollway was living just a short walk from Skunk Canyon and Dinosaur Mountain where he would spend years searching for boulders and establishing climbs up to V12. Holloway's unrepeated problem, “Slapshot” (V12?), has brought such legends as Fred Nicole into the forest for a glimpse back to the first days of double-digit bouldering.