Seal of Approval
Route Name: Seal of Approval
Rock Formation: Seal Rock
Number of Bolts to be Placed: 14-16 lead bolts to double-bolt anchors
Proposed Grade: 5.14-
Route Description: Seal of Approval takes the consistently overhanging face/scoop between Choose Life, to its right, and I Am the Walrus to its left, on the south face of Seal Rock. It begins by climbing blocky, overhanging rock into a right-trending undercling feature along a small roof at 25 feet. Above this, the route moves up an incipient corner then along an ever-steepening scooped face to another crux bulge, then goes into a large right-facing crack feature at 70 feet for a brief rest. The estimated difficulty from the ground to here is 5.13-. From the crack to the top of the wall, the route climbs consistently difficult terrain on small holds (sloping pockets and small edges) up black- and green-streaked rock in the large scoop/bowl, finishing up along an extruded tufa feature in a final crux bulge. The anchors will be up and left of this bulge at the lip of the wall, to facilitate smooth lowering and minimize wear on the rope. The estimated difficulty of the upper section is 5.13+, for an overall route difficulty of 5.14-.
The City of Boulder OSMP requires a photocopy or diagram of the rock formation with the proposed route drawn in to be accompanied with the route description.
Description of Neighboring/Existing Routes: The south face of Seal Rock has eight existing sport climbs. From right to left, they are: Jade Gate (5.11), Skin Flute (5.12), The Gruffalo (5.11-), Primate (5.13), Thunder Muscle (5.13+), Choose Life (5.13+), I Am the Walrus (5.14-), and Super Tuscan (5.13). The proposed climb, Seal of Approval, would be in between Choose Life and I Am the Walrus, 10 feet to either side of each route, with no shared holds or bolts or anchors. It is impossible to show the entire south face due to it being in a gully full of trees, but below is a photo of the specific part of the wall with the proposed climb and its neighbors.
The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of existing routes on the same face of the rock formation, including the number of routes, route names, route grade, type [traditional or bolted], and approximate distance between routes, and a photocopy or diagram of the existing route(s).
Approach Description: The approach is via an existing, established, purpose-built climbing-access trail to the south face of Seal Rock. Take the Mesa Trail to the Harmon Cave cutoff above Bear Canyon, and then head uphill on the Harmon Cave Trail to the base of Seal Rock. From here, take the left fork signed for the “South Face of Seal Rock,” switching back up the hill to the base of the wall.
The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of the approach, including: approximate distance(s) from the designated trail system, existing “social” or undesignated trails leading to the climb, condition(s) of the trail(s), a description whether there is a durable surface, such as rock, and photographs of the approach.
Descent Description: The descent is via lowering off the route back to the staging area, and via the approach trail.
The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of the descent, if different from the approach, using the same evaluation criteria.
Base Area Description: The staging area at the base is compact dirt and gravel, with no pre-existing vegetation (it’s under a very overhanging part of the wall, in the rain shadow)
The City of Boulder OSMP requires a description of the proposed route, including: existing levels of soil compaction, existence of a durable surface such as rock, existing soil erosion, and photographs of the area at the base of the climb.
Description of Route Evaluation Efforts: The route has been inspected on a fixed line hung off the lip, which let us stay in close and inspect it from bottom to top. Because there is no directional gear and because of the steep angle and proximity of large trees behind the wall, it is unsafe to toprope or to try the moves until directional bolts have been placed.
Has the route been top roped? Is there loose rock? Is it extremely overhanging?
The route in its entirety has not been toproped due to the constraints listed above and will only be safe to toprope once top anchors and at least a handful of directional bolts—removable or otherwise—have been placed to stay into the wall, to obviate the hazard of a perilous swing into trees behind the route, given its very overhanging angle. A few friable flakes will need to be removed at the 30-foot mark, but otherwise the rock looks solid, with a hardened varnish/veneer to it.
The City of Boulder OSMP expects for the person(s) proposing the new route to to perform all reconnaissance work that can be reasonably done, short of placing any unapproved hardware.
Additional Notes from the Authors: This route will be another long, technical, difficult addition to the south face of Seal Rock, on solid stone and at a consistent angle, with memorably difficult climbing on its upper third to a logical stopping point at the lip of the wall.