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Seal Rock

Colorado > Boulder > Flatirons > South
Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details

Description

Seal Rock is one of the most visible Flatirons from Boulder with its distinctive yellow-and-orange north face. High on the south side of Bear Canyon, this rock offers east-face classics, sporty trad/headpoint climbing, and (as of 2013) two sport routes on its radically overhanging south face. There is also one sport route, the three pitch Sea of Joy on the north face, and a scary trad proposition, Archaeopteryx.

Getting There

Follow the Mesa Trail south from NCAR, passing the two sharp switchbacks that enclose the Bongo Boulder en route to the top of Radio Tower hill. Fifty yards past the turn-off for the Bear Canyon Trail, which heads west into the canyon, notice a small trail cutting up and right (west) into the trees. This unsigned trail is the Harmon Cave Trail, which takes you past the gated-up Harmon Cave and switchbacks up a steep hill to the south en route to the base of Seal Rock. Stay left for the south face routes or go right to reach Archaeopteryx and Sea of Joy on the north face.

Getting Off

Addendum: There are at least 3 ways to get off this crag from the summit. 1) You can downclimb Shortcut, 5.4. 2) You can do a 50m rappel Sea of Joy's anchor bolts (40 feet East of the summit) on the North face. Note, the rope can get stuck on the pull. 3) Supposedly, you can downclimb 40 feet to the West, then go down a ramp to the Southeast, and then rap 135 feet from an eyebolt.

Routes from Left to Right

5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a X
 0
Misbehaven
Trad, TR
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 12
Super Tuscan
Sport
5.14a/b 8c 33 X+ 33 E9 7b
 7
I Am The Walrus
Sport
5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a
 34
Choose Life
Sport
5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a
 20
Thunder Muscle
Sport
5.13c/d 8b 31 X 31 E8 7a
 2
Supercell
Sport
5.13c/d 8b 31 X 31 E8 7a PG13
 1
Choose Muscle
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c PG13
 18
Primate
Trad
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 12
The Gruffalo
Sport
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
 25
Skin Flute
Sport
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
 10
Jade Gate
Sport
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 2
Southwest Face
Trad 3 pitches
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 42
East Face South Side
Trad 4 pitches
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 176
East Face North Side/Seal Rock
Trad 4 pitches
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 13
Shortcut (East Face)
Trad
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 2
The Stoop
Sport
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
 3
The Hinge
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 2
The Yellow Door
Sport 2 pitches
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c A0
 9
Sea of Joy
Sport, Aid 3 pitches
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b PG13
 2
Sea Bird
Trad 3 pitches
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a X
 2
Archaeopteryx
Trad 3 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Misbehaven
 0
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a X Trad, TR
Super Tuscan
 12
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
I Am The Walrus
 7
5.14a/b 8c 33 X+ 33 E9 7b Sport
Choose Life
 34
5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a Sport
Thunder Muscle
 20
5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a Sport
Supercell
 2
5.13c/d 8b 31 X 31 E8 7a Sport
Choose Muscle
 1
5.13c/d 8b 31 X 31 E8 7a PG13 Sport
Primate
 18
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c PG13 Trad
The Gruffalo
 12
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Skin Flute
 25
5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a Sport
Jade Gate
 10
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Sport
Southwest Face
 2
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad 3 pitches
East Face South Side
 42
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad 4 pitches
East Face North Side/Seal Rock
 176
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad 4 pitches
Shortcut (East Face)
 13
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad
The Stoop
 2
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
The Hinge
 3
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c Sport
The Yellow Door
 2
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport 2 pitches
Sea of Joy
 9
5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c A0 Sport, Aid 3 pitches
Sea Bird
 2
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b PG13 Trad 3 pitches
Archaeopteryx
 2
5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a X Trad 3 pitches

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Overhanging Rock, The Seal & The Goose as viewed from the N/NW. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2006.
[Hide Photo] Overhanging Rock, The Seal & The Goose as viewed from the N/NW. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2006.
This shows the trail that you should take to get to the Seal from the NCAR parking lot.
[Hide Photo] This shows the trail that you should take to get to the Seal from the NCAR parking lot.
Seal Rock summit panorama.
[Hide Photo] Seal Rock summit panorama.
No more questionable webbing for the rappel!<br>
Chains (3/8" 316L stainless steel) placed 15Aug09.
[Hide Photo] No more questionable webbing for the rappel! Chains (3/8" 316L stainless steel) placed 15Aug09.
The shoulder of Seal Rock, before steeper crack section, where easy on or off of east face is possible.
[Hide Photo] The shoulder of Seal Rock, before steeper crack section, where easy on or off of east face is possible.
Sunrise from the SW face of Seal Rock.
[Hide Photo] Sunrise from the SW face of Seal Rock.
Seal Rock from northeast
[Hide Photo] Seal Rock from northeast
Seal Rock as seen from the fields east of Broadway.
[Hide Photo] Seal Rock as seen from the fields east of Broadway.
Seal Rock seen from the south.
[Hide Photo] Seal Rock seen from the south.
Trail Volunteer day: October 20, 2018
[Hide Photo] Trail Volunteer day: October 20, 2018
Trail Volunteer Day: October 20, 2018
[Hide Photo] Trail Volunteer Day: October 20, 2018
On the summit.
[Hide Photo] On the summit.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] Some clarification on the approach: as you walk south from the Bear Canyon turnoff it is easy to overlook the Harmon Cave trail. If you reach the Fern Canyon turnoff (also to the right as you head south), then you've gone too far. Jun 3, 2003
James Garnett
Bellingham, WA
[Hide Comment] Some further info on the primary, 165' rappel from this rock: check out Rossiter's topo to find it. Some of the route descriptions here that describe how to get to the rappel can be deceiving; it is actually below the false summit with all the marine life on it, right on the very north edge of the east face. If you go all the way to the true summit you will have to downclimb and return to the rap station. Sep 14, 2003
Shane Zentner
Colorado
[Hide Comment] Regarding the descent: The rap anchors are 30 feet down and climber's right of the true summit. One can either climb the entire face and downclimb to the anchors, rap from the anchors as you get to them, or downclimb the obvious gully system to the ledge where you can locate the walk off at the north edge of the east face. I advise climbing with two ropes, going to the summit, and downclimbing to the rap anchors. We downclimbed a section of rock on our way to the walk off ledge (not advised) which turned our outing into 5.7X and added an additional 300 feet of 'climbing' - quite the adventure. Dec 12, 2008
[Hide Comment] There is an application for a new climb on the south face of Seal Rock, the first application for the autumn 2012 cycle of the Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council (www.flatironsclimbing.com). Details can be found at the link below; the public meeting and vote will be held some time early next year, details to be announced. This cycle closes January 1, 2013, though applications should be submitted well in advance. The public meeting and vote will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday January 16 at The Spot gym, Boulder, Colorado.

The application can be found at:
flatironsclimbingcouncil.wo… Sep 10, 2012
[Hide Comment] There is an application for a second proposed new climb on the south face of Seal Rock, the final application for the autumn 2012 cycle of the Fixed Hardware Review Committee of the Flatirons Climbing Council (www.flatironsclimbing.com), which closes January 1, 2013. Details can be found at the link below. The public meeting and vote will be held 6:30 p.m. Wednesday January 16 at The Spot gym, Boulder, Colorado.

The application for this route, American Nouveau, can be found at:
flatironsclimbingcouncil.wo… Dec 12, 2012
Scot Hastings
Las Vegas
[Hide Comment] A bit more info on option #3 for the descent: we had heard several reports of stuck ropes on the primary rap station, so we spent some time looking for this other option. It is exactly as stated here (downclimb W then descend a ramp to the SE), but it's quite the adventure. The downclimb itself is not trivial and is made way worse due to the exposure. Once you're down, you do indeed descend the ramp to the SE but way farther than you might think. The rap eyebolt is hidden a good 40m down the ramp behind a small tree. It has a sign that indicates the direction and distance to ground (130'). There are a few things that could grab your rope on the pull, but FWIW ours pulled just fine. The rap itself isn't terribly exciting, but it gets the job done.

While at the eyebolt, it seemed there may be a quicker and possibly easier downclimb option directly above the eyebolt. I believe this would be on the south side opposite the rap anchors for #2.

Honestly, I'll probably take my chances with a stuck rope for option #2 next time. Jun 21, 2013
mark felber
Wheat Ridge, CO
[Hide Comment] Regarding the descent route: there is a rap anchor at the west/southwest end of the summit area, reached by downclimbing from the true summit and walking cross. The downclimbing is at least as challenging as anything on the East Face/North Side route. As of today, the anchor consisted of a good-sized length of what looked like 11 mm rope slung around a huge boulder (4 wraps), and two locking carabiners to put the rap line through. A pair of 60 meter ropes would definitely get you down in one shot, and I wouldn't be surprised if a pair of 50s would. If, like me, you only brought one rope, there is a ledge part way down on which I put a fairly minimalist but adequate anchor (small tree backed up by an even smaller tree, new 1" webbing, one carabiner). A single 60 meter will get you from the top to this ledge, and from this ledge to the ground with lots of rope left over on both raps. A single 50m line would probably get you down these two raps. Aug 16, 2014
[Hide Comment] As you may have seen, there is a new trail to access the south side of Seal Rock. From the base of the east face, the new trail goes southeast about 200' and then cuts back up west to the crag. You can't miss the sign. It may take a minute or so longer, but it's far more sustainable, scenic, and pleasant than the former trail. Please don’t use the old social trail that went straight up the hillside. A big thanks to OSMP and the volunteers who made this new trail possible! Nov 29, 2014
[Hide Comment] There are three new route applications submitted for the August 2015 cycle of the FCC's Fixed Hardware Review Committee application process. They are located on the Box, Seal Rock, and the Third Flatiron.

Please visit the FCC site to review the applications and leave any comments you have. The public vote and meeting is set for 6:30 pm on Sept. 2 (Wednesday) at The Spot in Boulder, Colorado. Aug 4, 2015
[Hide Comment] An application for bolting a new route on Seal Rock has been received by the FCC for the Jan. 1 cycle. Details of the proposed route can be found here on the FCC site: flatironsclimbing.org/curre….

Please feel free to post any comments you have on the application. The public meeting will be held at the Spot on February 3, 2016 at 6:30, and everyone is welcome to join and vote there. Jan 5, 2016
[Hide Comment] Two applications for adding bolts to existing routes on the south face of Seal Rock have been received by the FCC for the August 1 cycle. The existing routes are Primate (5.13X) and Jade Gate (5.11X). Details of the proposed hardware proposals can be found here on the FCC site: flatironsclimbing.org/curre…

Please feel free to post any comments you have on the applications. The public meeting will be held at the Spot on September 1, 2016 at 6:30, and everyone is also welcome to join and vote there. Aug 2, 2016
[Hide Comment] There is a Seal Rock route application submitted for the January 2017 cycle of the FCC's Fixed Hardware Review Committee application process. The proposed route includes two pitches and is on the north face of Seal.

Please visit the FCC site flatironsclimbing.org/curre… to review the application and leave any comments you have. The public vote and meeting is set for 6:30 pm on February 2nd (Thursday) at The Spot in Boulder, Colorado. Jan 1, 2017
Nolan Robertson
Durango, CO
[Hide Comment] Is it possible to get to Seal Rock right now with the Bear Canyon trail closures? Apr 25, 2017
Steve Annecone
boulder
[Hide Comment] Nolan, yes, there is viable access. Check out this FCC link: flatironsclimbing.org/tempo… Apr 25, 2017
[Hide Comment] An application for bolting a new route on Seal Rock has been received by the FCC for the May 1 cycle. The proposed route is 12+/13- and is located west (uphill) of I Am The Walrus on the south face of Seal Rock. Details of the proposed route can be found here on the FCC site: flatironsclimbing.org/curre…

Please feel free to post any comments you have on the application. The public meeting will be held at the Spot on Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 6:30, and everyone is welcome to join and vote there. May 2, 2017
[Hide Comment] An application for bolting a new route on Seal Rock has been received by the FCC for the Jan 1 cycle. The proposed route is 12c/d and is located just left of the Yellow Door on the north face of Seal Rock. Details of the proposed route can be found here on the FCC site: flatironsclimbing.org/curre… Please feel free to post any comments you have on the application. The public meeting will be held at the Spot on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 6:30, and everyone is welcome to join and vote there. Dec 31, 2017
Mark Roth
Boulder
[Hide Comment] There is a new route application submitted for the January 2019 cycle of the FCC's Fixed Hardware Review Committee application process. The proposed route is on the North Face.

Please visit the FCC site:
flatironsclimbing.org/curre…
to review the application and leave any comments you have. The public vote and meeting is set for 6:30 pm on January 29th at The Spot in Boulder. Jan 2, 2019
michalm
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Marissa Stephens (sp?), I have your white headband/ear warmer. Message me, so I can get it back to you! Apr 6, 2019
Mark Roth
Boulder
[Hide Comment] There is a new route application submitted for the May 2019 cycle of the FCC's Fixed Hardware Review Committee application process. The proposed route is on the South face and is anticipated to be 5.14-.

Please visit the FCC site flatironsclimbing.org to review the application and leave any comments you have. The public vote and meeting is set for 6:30 pm on June 3rd (Monday) at The Spot in Boulder, Colorado. May 10, 2019