New Flatiron Speed Records

Mountain runner Buzz Burrell has broken the speed records for climbing the First and Third Flatirons, the landmark slabs looming over Boulder, Colorado. Burrell, who has held records for running the Colorado Trail and the John Muir Trail, aced talented fields of speed climbers in two “time trials” organized by Boulder climber Bill Wright’s Satan’s Minions Scrambling Club. Each of the Flatiron time trials requires an uphill approach of 0.75 mile to 1 mile, about 1,000 feet of 5.2 to 5.6 climbing, and a controlled tumble down the steep, rocky trails to the road. The descent from the summit of the First is a 100-foot 5.2 downclimb. To simplify the long, hairy descent from the Third, volunteers fixed three rappels down the vertical west face. Burrell’s round-trip time for the East Face of the First Flatiron was 35:04, eclipsing the old record of 35:25 that Timmy O’Neill had set from a different trailhead one or two minutes closer to the base of the rock. Burrell needed only 11:05 to climb the 10-pitch route. Stefan Griebel finished second in 37:39, and O’Neill was third at 39:06. One week later, on the Third Flatiron, Burrell raced to the top and back in an amazing 34:48. (Bill Briggs’ older “unsupported” record – downclimbing from the summit of the Third – is perhaps even more amazing at 36:27.) Jon Sargent finished second in the field of 18, and Griebel was third. Verve owner Christian Griffith finished fourth on the Third and fifth on the First, and speed climber-alpinist Josh Wharton was fifth on the Third. The first five finishers on the Third Flatiron all broke 40 minutes for the round-trip.