The north face of the Matron is a Flatiron climb of the highest caliber. It is not only one of Gerry Roach's "classics
", but is marked as one of his elusive "Top 10
". Although only rated 5.5, the climbing is much steeper and sustained than other Flatirons with similar ratings. This is a wonderful variation from standard Flatiron climbing and is always a great time.
Also, the Matron falls under the annual raptor closers and is almost always closed every February 1st to July 31st so it's a good idea to check the status before you go.
The red line shows where the north face joins the east face route.
Follow the directions on the main page
to reach the formation. Once the climber's trail leads under the north face, follow it up against the base of the formation until you see a large boulder wedged up against the face. The route starts on this boulder and there are two options to reach the platform. A short chimney on the left leads straight up and on the right there is a small tunnel that you can wriggle through. The chimney is slightly harder and more graceful, but the tunnel is secure and fun. The climbing begins from the boulder and ascends the rightmost crack system to the tree on the face.
|The tunnel variation to reach the start of the climb. |
|Pitch 1 outline with the fixed pitons circled. Easier to see when enlarged.
P1 (5.5) - From the large boulder, climb the rightmost crack system past 3 fixed pins and over a short roof to a tree. Most folks consider this much harder than 5.5, but since that is the traditional rating I will stick with it. Also, since the climbing is steep and the pins are getting old, I wouldn't trust them completely on their own. This pitch is easily combined, with P2 but if your second is nervous about the roof it is a good idea to belay from a rock tunnel near the tree.
P2 (5.5) - From a belay just above the tree, continue up the finger crack and set up a belay shortly after gaining the east face. This is a short pitch.
P3 (5.0-5.2) - Head up 4th class rock on the east face and pass a short 5.2 wall to reach a comfortable belay at a tree.
P4 (4th class) - From the large belay tree it is only 100 feet to the summit. Pass the steep wall (can be climbed at about 5.6) on the left and then back up to the summit.
|Leading P1. |
|Just below the roof thinking "5.5 eh?".
|Pulling the crux roof. |
|Looking down the east face from the final belay.
Locate newer rappel anchors on the western edge of the summit. With 2 ropes you can make a long double rappel west and reach the ground. With 1 rope, rappel straight west, pass a small ledge with a rappel ring and find 2 smaller anchors about 20 feet lower. From the first ring on the ledge, a 60M rope will put you 15 feet above the ground so make sure you find the 2 a little bit lower. This rappel is a bit further than it looks, so make sure your rope reaches the ground...
|Summit anchor looks good. |
|This is the first rappel anchor you reach from the summit. A single 60M will not reach the ground from here! 2 smaller anchors are further down the face from here.
Essential GearA typical Flatiron rack.
- We carried a small rack of nuts, cams and a few tricams. The first pitch takes gear well and there are 3 pins to clip. The upper pitches are typical runout slabs.
- A 60M works perfectly. Make sure you watch the length on the rappels.
- Long approach = thirsty climbers!
- Trudging through poison ivy may be unavoidable certain times of the year. We did not see any on the way up but took a wrong turn and ended up wading through some on the way down.
The Matron is included in the annual raptor closures. Is it almost always closed every year from February 1st to July 31st. Check HERE
to double check the formation's status and see if the closure has been lifted early or extended. Please be respectful of the closures.