Saturday, June 10, 2006

Royal Arch

Another weekend and another chance to go hiking and scrambling in the Flatirons. This time I chose a trip to Royal Arch and a bit of scrambling in Fern Alley. I was hoping that the trail was not blocked off like on Mallory Cave. Luckily it wasn't, but much of the south side of the third flatiron is. Nesting raptors you see.

As you take the Royal Arch trail from Chautauqua Park it climbs to the west and there are some great views of the Flatirons. The route thru Bluebell Canyon leads to Sentinel pass. When I started to descend from the pass it made me a bit nervous wondering if I was on the right path. Luckily I was, so don't let the descent fool you. The final step ascent to Royal Arch involves many switchbacks and steep hiking.

The Royal Arch itself is not like those around Moab, but is cool nonetheless. Check out the picture. I did have great views of downtown Denver.

I hiked back down to the top of the switchbacks and left the trail in search of Fern Alley. I climbed up the north side of the fourth Flatiron, but I'm not sure I ever found it. I did a bit of boulder scrambling, crossed the top of the fourth, and then started back towards the trail. About halfway down I found a nice scrambling rock that had slings on some trees.

I donned my climbing shoes and gave it a go. It was the perfect challenge on the climb up and I had quite alot of fun. I climbed along the shelf at the top of the slab until I could not go any farther. This forced me to downclimb about half of the route. Luckily there was a nice crack, but it was still a nervous time. At the bottom I was relieved and very happy. Quite a fun day.

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