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First Flatiron

Austin Porzak
Colorado
austin porzak first flatiron

The idea to ski the First Flatiron in Boulder, Colorado...

came to me in 2010 after I skied the 1911 Gully on the Third Flatiron. I focused my attention on the ice climbing routes that rarely form on the First Flatiron. Every time it would snow, I would go check it out and see how much snow was accumulating over the ice on these routes. The ice climbing route named The Silk Road, aka East Face Gully, caught my attention. After one particular storm the line looked like a very steep snow climb for just one day, then disappeared. I knew that the ice could bond to the smooth rock surface and if enough snow fell it could stick to the ice for a day or two and it could be skied. Timing would be everything for this line.  Sections would probably be very intimidating because I would be skiing 60 degree slab rock with no base and fatal exposure. My next objective was to find an efficient route to the back of the First Flatiron so I could drop in from the top and not disturb the thin snow. Climbing what you will ski is my main rule in big mountain skiing, but this was different.

In the summer I would climb the route weekly and run home via the route I put together on the back of the First Flatiron. This route went from the back and traversed Green Mountain to the Flagstaff Road. Two years ago, in 2012, I though the route was ready so I made an attempt in December after some big storms. During this attempt I skied the top 200 feet, however, the snow kept blowing out on me so I climbed back out. It was a heartbreaker but I didn't give up, I just hoped someday it would get a more bonding snow and some huge back to back to back snowstorms. After the 50+ inches Boulder received in late February I figured I should go check it out. When I got to the top of the ridge it was really deep so I climbed out on belay to look over the face and down the line to see if it would go.  Sure enough it was good to go and magic could happen. The face was caked in snow and ice. I had the feeling that it was now or never. Dropping in was surreal; there was tremendous uncertainty but I stayed super focused and took it turn by turn. The line was a challenge from top to bottom and every turn was truly different. This was a puzzle that I had to put together on the descent. It was amazing to finally be skiing the Silk Road, a line that I put my heart and soul into for many years.

My dream was now a reality!

austin porzak first flatiron