Pit of Despair

Route Name: Pit of Despair

Rock Formation: Seal Rock

Number of Bolts to be Placed:

Pitch 1: 9 bolts plus 2 bolt anchor

Pitch 2: 9 bolts plus 2 bolt anchor

Total of 22 bolts

Proposed Grade: 5.13+/ 14-

Route Description: 

The proposed route starts 15 feet right of the Perfect Storm and 25 feet left of Nattiq. 

The first pitch will be approximately 80 feet of 5.10 slab climbing to an anchor on the right side of the same ledge as the Perfect Storm anchor.

The first 10 meters of the 2nd pitch climbs through the right side of the beautiful yellow streaks that run down the wall.  This is technical face climbing on interesting edges. The next 10 meters initially climbs the inside of a right facing corner.  As the inside corner becomes blank, the climbing moves up to the overhanging outside corner and traverses right across steep and difficult climbing on fantastic edges and features. 

The pitch crosses Nattiq (sharing one bolt) and continues up and right across continuously difficult climbing on the same overhanging corner system for another 10 meters before the difficulty backs off and the climb swings up and back left to finishing holds and an anchor.  


 This second pitch angles right across the wall on a continuous feature (the overhanging corner) in the same way that Nattiq traverses left across a different feature (a crack system) on the same wall.  Although the idea that these two routes will cross and share a bolt might seem like a conflict on paper, it is actually quite natural when you see the features, and it should not create an issue given the limited traffic on the North Face of Seal Rock.  


The second pitch will be continuous and difficult, and the grade is expected to be 5.13+ or 5.14-.

Description of Neighboring/Existing Routes: The North Face of Seal Rock has 8 existing routes.

 1. Yellow Door (original route): a 2 pitch climb, with the first pitch rated 5.12c and the second pitch rated 5.13a. The route is mostly bolted, but takes gear at the start of the first pitch and end of the second pitch. (The recommended way of climbing Yellow Door is to finish on Sea of Joy, which makes the second pitch 13b).

2. The Hinge: a 5.13a sport route that shares the first pitch of Yellow Door, then climbs straight up a line of bolts from the belay to through the vertical face to anchors at the lip.

3. Sea of Joy: a three-pitch route that starts about 100’ right of Yellow Door. It is rated 5.13a and is mostly bolted, but takes some gear on the first pitch.

4. Archaeopteryx: A 3 pitch 5.11+ trad route that starts about 20 feet right of Sea of Joy.

5. Storm Bird: A link up route including part of the first pitch of Sea of Joy, followed by parts of the second pitch of Archaeopteryx, sections of new terrain and finishing on the top part of the second pitch of The Perfect Storm.  There are sections of this climb that require traditional gear protection.

6. The Perfect Storm: A 2 pitch 5.13b sport route. The proposed route would share the first pitch of this route.

7. Yellow Streaks: A 2 pitch sport route that has been approved but not climbed yet.  This route starts between The Perfect Storm and the proposed route, but angles left after 10 meters where the proposed route angles right. 

8. Nattiq: A 2 pitch 5.12 sport route that begins 25 feet right of the proposed route. The proposed route intersects Nattiq part way on its second pitch and shares one bolt.

Approach Description: The approach is up the designated trail to the base of Seal Rock, and then up the climbers trail to the North side of Seal Rock. This is the same trail used to access all the existing climbs on the North face of Seal Rock.

Descent Description: The descent is via lowering off the route back to the staging area.

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 is similar to the base of The Perfect Storm.  It is compact dirt and rock, with no pre-existing vegetation.

Description of Route Evaluation Efforts: Yes.  The entire route has been thoroughly inspected and has been climbed but the second pitch has not been freed.  

Has the route been top roped? Is there loose rock?  Is it extremely overhanging?

The entire route has been thoroughly inspected and has been climbed but not freed.  There is no loose rock on the route.

Additional Notes from the Authors: Similar to The Yellow Door, it’s hard to assess how steep this route climbs until you’re on it.  Should provide another good challenge for the Seal Rock crew!

4 replies
  1. Rui Ferreira
    Rui Ferreira says:

    I am opposed to this route on several fronts.

    As currently proposed this second pitch climbs through a seasonal swallow’s nest that was purposely avoided during the installation of Nattiq, the current route in this section of the cliff. At the time I was scoping possible lines for the second pitch of Nattiq I considered a left line approach to the overhang from the first pitch anchors, but dismissed it outright due to the lack of reasonable climbing features and having to climb through the nest entrance below the lip of the overhang.

    Despite the claim that climbing the overhanging lip follows a natural line, the natural line is the flake that is in the center of the overhang and which is the distinct feature of the second pitch of Nattiq.

    Also, the addition of this second pitch will crowd Nattiq in various ways, by climbers on Nattiq having to wait for someone to climb through this pitch or for climbers that will inevitably want to do link ups that either only climb the first half of this new pitch and bail onto Nattiq or those that start on Nattiq and finish on the proposed second half of this line. Already climbers will be looking to finish on the anchors of Nattiq when they are done with the first half of Yellow Streaks. If you are getting confused, “grid bolting” comes to mind.

    There are at least three other independent lines to the right of Nattiq that can offer similar or higher technical difficult as this route that do not crowd this section of the cliff any further.

  2. Phil Gruber
    Phil Gruber says:

    I don’t agree with Rui’s comments. They remind me of the initial criticism on this forum when I submitted “The Yellow Door” for approval.

    However, rather than mount a defense I would suggest that anyone interested check it out for themselves and draw their own conclusion. Those who have (and who don’t have a personal bias) have supported the proposal.

    I’ll even leave a fixed line up this weekend so it’s easy to rope solo or jummar.

    BTW, nest? What nest?!

  3. Chris Weidner
    Chris Weidner says:

    This line looks great from the ground. I have only climbed on the initial vertical section of the second pitch, just right of Yellow Streaks, which is excellent. I think it’s fair to assume the rest is great as well, given that every sport route on this wall is fantastic.

    I’m curious about the swallow’s nest: Rui says it’s there and would be disturbed, Phil says he hasn’t seen it. If it’s there, I may hesitate to vote yes, though not necessarily. Do swallows re-use nests year after year? If it’s no longer there, then I vote yes for this climb.


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