Go Play: Summit County rock climbing Royal Flush in Frisco
Special to the Free Press
While many flock to Summit County for the epic winter adventures or the growing mountain bike culture, long-term locals know that the county’s mountainous terrain caters to the climbers as well.
On the west facing, 500-foot face of Mount Royal is one of Summit’s most classic sport routes: The Royal Flush. This gallant 20-pitch sport climb overlooks Lake Dillon and the Gore Range once you get high enough and is a great day climb for anyone comfortable with leading up to a 5.9-plus route.
The route offers several different variations based on your climbing level and can be a good introduction to alpine climbing. So, if you’re interested in clipping some bolts during your time in Summit County, here’s a brief description of The Royal Flush — a local favorite.
Before the climb
Many guidebooks warn climbers about the high rock-fall danger in the area, so it is always important to wear helmets and be careful about kicking any loose rock onto possible parties below you, notably on the top six pitches.
With a 70m rope the pitches can be easily combined into 10-12 pitches. Bring 10 quickdraws and several shoulder runners, and you should be able to make it up the route smoothly, although some parties choose to bring a small trad rack for extra protection.
The route was originally established as 20 pitches to allow for easier route finding and partner communication. Due to the loud noise pollution from Interstate 70 and the wandering nature of the route, it can be difficult to communicate when linking pitches.
Find the route
Get to the base of the climb from the dirt parking lot found near Exit 201 in Frisco (Mount Royal trailhead), located on the south side of Main Street. Follow the bridge over Tenmile Creek and take the bike path upstream toward Copper for about five minutes until you reach the Mount Royal foot trail (on your left).
From here, the foot trail begins climbing directly to the base of Mount Royal. You’re headed in the right direction when you are scrambling over boulders and other rock debris leading up to the route.
Two small plaques indicate the beginning of two parallel routes up the face of The Royal Flush. The classic belay platform for the first pitch is up the middle of the first large slab, past a couple of bolts. You can also begin belaying from the bottom of the slab.
The lower and upper walls are ultimately separated by a bit of class 3 and 4 hiking. When you begin on the un-roped hiking, rock cairns are your best friend and will keep you from going off-route. Follow the cairns!
The upper headwall can test your nerves, as it encompasses the most exposed section of the climb.
“The headwall is for sure the best part of the climb. You feel like you’re on top of the world,” local climber Jordy Lynch says.
After you’ve reached the top, high-fived your buddies, drank a cold one and taken a few selfies, it’s time for the descent. While rappelling is always an option, if weather strikes in the middle of your climb, use the trail leading off to the south side of Mount Royal. It takes you straight from the top and down into the town of Frisco to the bike path near the parking lot.
Just remember that weather in Colorado can be unpredictable, so it is always smart to check the forecast and plan on starting earlier in the day.
For those interested in climbing The Royal Flush and other routes in Summit County, see http://www.mountain project.com or any of the Summit County guidebooks for more information.
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