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Guidebook Creator Shares Flatirons Knowledge

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Roach climbs in the Flatirons area

Roach climbs in the Flatirons area

Gerry Roach moved to Boulder in the mid-1950s and he immediately began climbing the Flatirons, the rock formations that got their name because they look like an iron on its side on an ironing board.

“The adventures and places up in there are just magnificent,” Roach said.

Years ago, Roach shared his Flatirons knowledge in the guidebook “Flatiron Classics.” It’s currently out of print, but Roach is hard at work on a new edition.

Roach may be working hard, but getting to the Flatirons is easy because of access from Chautauqua Park.

“I don’t think there’s any place in the world where you have such a wonderful trail system to such a wonderful collection of rocks, so close to town,” he said.

The decades Roach has spent climbing the Flatirons mean they are familiar friends.

“You could spend a life, and I have, climbing these Flatirons. This is the training ground for the world, but if you want to stay here, that’s fine too.”

Roach knows every nook and cranny of the first three main Flatirons and took some time to show off his knowledge to Colorado Getaways producer Doug Whitehead.

“Here on the edge of the second is a very nice overlook where you can look down much of the Flatiron. You get the feeling of air, the exposure and the steepness.

“Of all the Flatirons, the third is probably the most famous,” he said.

But there is also a smaller summit in the garden of giants, a rock formation Roach calls a “flatironette.” Often its lure proves too strong when Roach has set out on a hike near the Flatirons. He usually winds up climbing this one without safety gear and ropes, something he strongly recommends when climbing the large flatirons.

“The tricky part is understanding when to hike and when to climb. Know yourself, know your limits,” he says.

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