Fandango Fiasco

It started out auspiciously enough; Fabio, Peter and I set out to climb Fandango, a lovely six-pitch 5.5 route on the huge First Flatiron. Fabio and I have each climbed it a couple of times before. No problem… no. Problems.

Fabio brought the full lead rack including ball nuts, a dozen draws, a double set of stoppers and a dozen cams. However he forgot harness, belay device, and helmet.


While loading gear at the cars, Fabio, chagrined, announced that he’d forgotten his helmet. Fortunately, my car contains a subset of my various recently-used outdoor gear including a bike helmet. Sure, he’d look like a newb up there, but it would be better than nothing.

As we geared up at the base of the climb, the second problem became evident. Fabio had forgotten his harness as well as the helmet. While I didn’t have a spare harness floating in around, I did have 15′ of emergency bail-off webbing that I tend to carry. He was able to tie a diaper sling harness suitable for the easy rock we expected. What’s more, his belay device was attached to the harness he forgot. Again, fortunately, I happened to have a tiny spare of these as well.

Figuring that bad luck came in threes, we set out up the rock. I tackled all the lead duties and had little trouble with the first two pitches. For P3, we tried a left side variation on the regular line (5.6). This avoided the gnarly crux pitch on the regular variation and I got to try something new.

I found the pitch to be better than expected and set up a rather precarious gear belay at the top of a dihedral. When Fabio and Peter arrived, they did so without the cordalette, cam, and other gear I’d used to set up the previous belay… so Fabio made a trip back down and up again to retreive it.

From there on, it was mostly smooth sailing. P4 started with pulling a short, juggy roof and rejoining the regular route at the wonderful fist crack pitch. Then up to the ridge and scaling the various towers to the summit.

Plagued by misfortunes, we persevered anyway and salvaged a good day out of it.

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