Type: Trad, 3 pitches
FA: Jeff Achey, Roger Briggs, 1980?
Page Views: 1,984 total · 9/month
Shared By: Pinklebear on Aug 18, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


This three pitch route ascends the very steep, very visible north face of Seal Rock, tackling a brilliant yellow-lichen streaked headwall on the last pitch. It is one route right of the more easily-located Sea of Joy (13a), a three-pitch sport route about 20-30 feet left that parallels Archaeopteryx to the right.

P1: Start below the bolts on Sea of Joy and traverse right along a dirty ramp, passing two small trees. When opportunity presents itself, move up onto the face above, climbing slightly left of a left-arching corner system to reach a two-bolt belay below the roof band which splits the face. This is a very serious 5.10 pitch, sure to challenge your route-finding skills.

P2: Move right off the belay then back left into the clean tips layaway, which you follow left and into the apex of an A-frame roof. Turn the roof at a fixed copperhead and belay off the double drilled angles above, which can be backed up in the purple rock out right (an extra #3 Camalot comes in handy here). (5.11b)

P3: The crux. Crank thin moves left off the belay (no pro) and stand up to a good hole. The pitch diagonals consistently up and right from here along the pod system/crack, which takes sporadic gear. The climbing and position on this pitch are absolutely brilliant! (5.11c/d)


This difficult to protect route is . . . well, difficult to protect. Bring a full Eldo-type rack up to a #3 Camalot, with plenty of stoppers and small-mid range TCUs or Aliens.


- No Photos -
On P1 I stayed left (serious 5.8) of the left-angling crack/corner system until it was possible and desirable to traverse right and over the corner. This puts you into a fine predicament which is resolved pleasantly after you find a hole for a #1 Camalot and good holds leading up and left to the 'purple band'. It's a very interesting pitch-be patient.

On P3, I would recommend that the belayer have enough slack in his/her system to allow them to fling themselves out of the way of a leader fall lest they get "cheese-wired". Sep 19, 2001
I think it's important to mention that while the first pitch is rated 5.10, there is enough loose rock and lichen to make it climb like 5.11, and that the gear is only good in a few spots. The second pitch is short, but fun (I'm not sure where Matt Samet got a #3 Camalot in to back up the belay, let alone the entire route). The three star rating combined with Matt's praise is going a little overboard on the thumbs up here-- the entire third pitch is covered in lichen. Apr 24, 2002
I must concur with DB. This route deserves one star! The first pitch is unprotected and a bit loose. Pitch two is awesome but short. The only thing worse than the protection on pitch three is the actual climbing. I was amazed by the amount of lichen on this final pitch. If you have done every other route in the Boulder area than Archaeopteryx might be worth the effort. Just remember to bring a wire brush and a botanist. May 3, 2002
Andy Donson  
Just to keep things balanced, I think this is one of the best routes I've done around Boulder. I remember lichen being a bit thick on the last few moves of pitch 3 but that hardly detracts from the outstanding position and form of the last pitch. Also the gear isn't that dire, I remember emptying a rack of Friends on that last pitch. Nice cool spot for the coming months, too. May 3, 2002
Interesting! I am glad you guys enjoyed this route. I am going to stick with my one star rating. I ascended this "magical" line last month (April 02) and the final pitch was a jungle. Maybe my expectations were a bit high. I was anticipating some steep, quality three star stone not a lichen covered traversing pod / crack system. May 6, 2002
Three stars should be given to only the "best" routes around. A few worth mentioning are The Bishop Finger Crack, Wunsch's Dihedral, Diagonal Direct, Stone Monkey, Hats Off, The Wisdom to Jules Verne to Wingless Victory. These routes all have great rock, good position and lack lichen. Other classic (two star) routes would include Death & Transfiguration, Warlocks, South Crack, Mellow Yellow, Scary Canary, Captain Beyond, Country Club and Never a Dull Moment. Of course, there are many others. FYI the Edge is only a two star route! May 7, 2002
Mr AC, nice tick list. I would venture to say most of those routes are classics. And I disagree, the Edge is 3 star all the way. My rating system goes like this: worth doing once, worth repeating, must repeat regularly. I have a high tolerance for bushes, loose rock, and junk climbing, so every route I've ever done is at least worth doing once. The final category are the classics that I've had to work at really hard to lead and/or were way scary to lead. These are the climbs that I only do once, and just savor the memories. May 7, 2002
Tony B
Around Boulder, CO
Tony B   Around Boulder, CO
I've never climbed the route- I've only looked at it. I don't climb at that level, and I sure don't run it out at that level.

But there is a contribution I can make to this discussion anyway. The "ratings" of what 1-3 stars is supposed to mean is clearly defined from a link on this site, and it is clearly defined, however subjective.

refer to: climbingboulder.com/resourc… May 7, 2002
Verve Man is a colorful character so using your own criteria Wingless Victory must be a classic three star route. Just because you are an interesting person doesn't necessarily mean you have a good eye for new routes! I never consider who brushed the holds when I dole out the stars. You should do the big link when the Edge opens up. :-) May 14, 2002