This past summer during a trip up to Flatiron to clear the paint marks, I was chatting with JuanJamieiii as we trekked through the desert. As we gazed up at this impressive rock he asked me if I had ever been up to the top. I scoffed at the notion while he assured me that it was not as difficult as it may appear. My first attempt at it was a few weeks later and I quickly realized that he was right. Now, I must say that this is not the most difficult scramble to the top but it is beyond a doubt one of the most exposed portions on the mountain. If the idea of taking a step to the right or left and tumbling off (most assuredly to an untimely demise) then this is definitely not the hike for you.
The approach for this hike begins at the Mining Camp parking lot; or if you are inclined to you can begin at Lost Dutchman State Park. Head towards the Siphon Draw signage and head towards the mountain. The giant monolith that looms at the opening of the canyon that leads into the mountain is your goal.
I started calling this rock the Gatekeeper for a few reasons. When I started taking people with me up to Flatiron I used this rock as a marker of sorts. If we had to stop before we made it to this point it was going to be a long day on the mountain. When I brought my kiddos up the mountain I decided to embellish the story slightly. I turned the Gatekeeper into a sleeping giant (think like the stone eating giant from a famous 80's movie) who protected the mountain from people not ready for it. If disturbed, the Gatekeeper would unbury himself (his head is the only thing exposed) and toss the perpetrators off of the mountain.
There is a turnoff at approximately 1.2 miles in. With the Gatekeeper looming to your right, look for a side trail that zooms downwards from the Siphon Draw main trail. The turnoff is directly in front of one of the railroad ties that cross the main trail to prevent erosion. You will begin boulder hopping now until you reach the slick rock of the stream bed. Make a sharp right and follow the stream bed for about 100 feet until you are standing at the bottom of the eastern face of the Gatekeeper.
Now here is the real gut check time. Look up once, think twice, and turn back if you have any doubt at all.
You will begin scrambling up this steep face. In my opinion the best route up is following the crack all the way up until you hit the southern face.
Upon reaching the southern face you have the crux of this ascent facing you. I am not quite sure if I would call it a climbing pitch as much as a wall to clamber up. Find your way up the 8 or so feet and you will dog leg to your right and hop up a 4 foot wall.
You should now be facing towards Flatiron. Carefully, and I do mean carefully, make your way up the rock and badda bing, badda boom, you are on top of the Gatekeeper! Enjoy the views but don’t step too far in either direction. There is only room for 1 or 2 people up here at any one time.
Make your way back down the way that you came.