The Backporch is an imposing spire in the second of the strata that form Dinosaur Mountain.
It is located to the west of the Frontporch, east of the Dreadnaught, north of the Box, and south of the Achean Pronouncement. The easiest route to the summit of the Backporch goes up the east face and is described here. It is also the most popular route, though it is far from crowded. The other faces also have routes, ranging from the very obscure (Richard Rossiter reports in his Rock Climbing the Flatirons
that there should
be a route up the north face) to the very difficult. (The Five Year Plan
is a 5.13b freed by Dale Goddard in 1985.)
Gerry Roach included the East Face Route among the top ten in his Flatiron Classics
guidebook. Those who disagree cite the crumbly rock, the lichens, and the trees that are a bit in the way. In defense of this route one can cite the excellent position, the variety and the sustained nature of the climb (relative to the 5.6 rating, of course).
Starting in 2009, the Backporch is affected by the City of Boulder's Raptor Closures. Check here for details.
From the NCAR parking lot, follow the Walter Orr Roberts trail to the intersection with the Mesa Trail, continue past the intersection on the popular Mallory Cave Trail. Once the trail crosses a gully, proceed for about 100 feet. A faint trail departs from the main path angling right: This is the Porch Alley Trail, which rises steeply to the base of the Frontporch.
The trail contours the Frontporch on the left (south), goes around the Lost Porch and the Backporch--also on the left--and finally rejoins the main trail west of the Box. To reach the start of our route, cross to the north under the east face of the Backporch, whose distinctive shape appears through the trees from time to time to guide you.
Ascend on steep terrain along the north face of the Backporch until you can spy, a little higher in the direction of the northeast corner, a miniature arch, or, if you prefer, a large tunnel. Scramble up to it and tie in.
Allow about an hour for the approach at a leisurely pace.
This route may be done in either two or three pitches. In the latter case, the first two pitches are very short, but rope drag is less of an issue.
The final finger crack.
From the small arch, ascend left toward the east face. Turn the corner and climb a slab to the vertex of the V-shaped overhang that cuts across the east face. Lieback to the right of the V until a weakness allows you to cut left under a characteristic horizontal tree. Climb over the tree and proceed up broken rock to a first tree (bushwhacking crux) and a second tree where you can belay. If the area is infested by ants--apparently it does happen--there are other belay opportunities nearby. This first pitch is less that 60 m and can be broken down into two short pitches if desired. (5.6)
From the belay, go up and left and follow the right edge of a large flake until it is easy to cross left on the final headwall. Climb up easy slabs until the final block. Here you face a short but sweet finger crack that takes you directly to the summit. This second pitch is less than 40 m, but interesting throughout (5.6).
Descent from the Back Porch can be accomplished in either one double-rope rappel, or two one-rope rappels. Sixty-meter ropes suffice in both cases.
The Backporch from the south
Two good bolts with chains were places by Bruce Hildenbrand and Will Clopton on the west side of the summit block in 2004. Throw your rope(s) to the west. With two ropes you will reach the saddle between the Dreadnaught and the Back Porch. The rappel is partly free-hanging. With one rope, follow the same line and look for slings (and three rings) tied around a tunnel on the lip of the lower overhang. The start of the second rappel is awkward.
From the saddle to the west of the Back Porch scramble and bushwhack down to the south until you meet the Porch Alley Trail.
Standard rack. As all Flatiron east faces, it is a bit runout. We placed most C4s from 0.3 to 4. Large hexes are also useful. A 60 m rope allows one to climb this route in two pitches. With two ropes one can descend in one rappel. Helmet recommended, as the route is far from being clean.
This route is described in Gerry Roach's Flatiron Classics
, where it is ranked among the "top ten" routes. It is also described in Richard Rossiter's Rock Climbing the Flatirons
. See also Mountain Project's Backporch page