Type: Sport, Aid, 190 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Richard and Joyce Rossiter
Page Views: 4,954 total · 28/month
Shared By: Tim Stich on Jun 5, 2004
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


P1 (5.11 with 5.10 PG-13/R): The rock on the entire slab up to the fifth or sixth bolt is covered with lichens, so it can be pretty exciting. The first several clips are in the 5.9 range, then it gets very tricky and thin at the light orange band with larger quartz sand grains after the lichen rock. This section starts getting into 5.11+ territory and continues into a red-brown section of fractured rock. This affords some jug holds, and though overhung, is a bit easier to climb than the thin face below. Mounting the ledge to the left to reach the anchor involves pulling on a poor sloper-jug on the left from a good handhold. It is possible to place a finger sized cam between bolts 1 and 2.

P2 (5.11+): The second pitch is very wild and exposed, and the bolt spacing is adequate. Working up into the alcove above the belay, beware of loose rock and don't go too high before traversing out left. The moves working out left, out of the alcove and onto the steep face, were fun and wild and hard, maybe 11c.... I grabbed a jug and had to cut loose with both feet to get established onto the face..

P3 (5.13a) : This is an excellent! Weave up the beautiful rippled face to a vague twin crack feature which trends slightly right. Where this ends make crux moves back left to a bucket (big throw). A few more hard moves to stand in the bucket and it's all over.


10 draws a few slings and a finger sized cam or #1 camelot.


Steve Annecone
Steve Annecone   boulder
I can add a bit about the 1st and 2nd pitches, but I haven't done the 3rd pitch. I thought the first pitch was nice and exciting, a bit runout lower down. The first 2 or 3 clips were sporty, then the pro improved. I didn't think the moves were as hard as shown in the Rossitter guide, maybe more like 11a. The second pitch was very wild and exposed, and the bolts seemed adequate. Working up into the alcove above the belay, beware of loose rock and don't go too high before traversing out left. The moves working out left, out of the alcove and onto the steep face, were fun and wild and hard, maybe 11c.... I grabbed a jug and had to cut loose with both feet to get established onto the face. Pretty fun couple of pitches if you don't mind the approach (which is steep, occasionally loose, and long). Jun 11, 2004
Andy Donson  

A good route to escape the heat but not the crowds - every time I've climbed on this wall there have been hordes of people rappeling down from the Sea of Joy anchors.

The AO rating refers to Rossiter's rest point - It's actually a pretty doable 13a, if you're wearing planks - a grade easier than Rainbow Wall. Jul 26, 2004
Area Dan
Oakland, CA
Area Dan   Oakland, CA
Has anyone been on this route recently? It seems like it doesn't get much traffic. Specifically, how clean is it (lichen, dirt, moss, etc) and how do the bolts look?

Thanks in advance for your opinions. Apr 5, 2012
Andy Donson  
I would have thought the whole thing is pretty clean - unlike its neighbor Archeopteryx which has some veg issues up high. The bolts are probably fine - same condition as pretty much all the other sport routes up there apart from the recent stuff. Nice and cool up there too now summer has begun.... Apr 5, 2012
Area Dan
Oakland, CA
Area Dan   Oakland, CA
I went up to Seal Rock today to try Sea of Joy. We climbed the first 2 pitches as one, using slings on the 2nd pitch. My partner onsighted this 100'+ linkup hanging the draws and thought it to be about 11d/12a.

P1: Very licheny with no chalk. The rock seems very solid here, but holds are small and infrequent and smearing on lichen covered rock perhaps makes it feel harder than it would be if the rock was clean. This first pitch felt like very techy 5.11b/c. The bolts are spaced pretty far apart, making for some very thoughtful climbing. Probably not a good first 5.11 lead for someone.

P2: This very short and interesting pitch climbs a steep, mudstone choss band up and left over the roof to a hanging belay at the base of the upper slab. The crucial holds are fairly solid (we didn't pull anything off), but everything else feels like a game of jenga. Toproping this pitch felt like 5.11+ with a very cool and funky stem out to the lip of the roof.

P3: (our P2) The spacing of the bolts on this pitch is much tighter - although getting to the first bolt off the belay is very heady and not easy (felt like 5.12-) if you fell here you would fall below the slab over the roof into space and have to ascend the rope. The upper slab is also quite crusty with lichen, and we may have overlooked some decent footholds because of this. The climbing is quite good and very technical - balancy movement on small edges and slopers. We pretty much aided up the pitch and then tried it on toprope. The crux is not well-protected: at the end, the obvious climb is 7-8' to the right of the bolt line, then traverses back left.

For this to turn into a truly good sport climb, the whole thing needs a serious wire brushing, some minor trundling on P2, a few more bolts on P1, and different bolt placement at the crux. Currently, it is a good rock climb of a different sort: crusty with lots of lichen, sometimes spicy, and übertechy.

Also, we had a single 70m rope which is the perfect length for rappelling from the top of P2 all the way to the ground. Both anchors (P1, P2) consist of several slings threaded directly through bolt hangers. If you go up there, it would be awesome to cut the slings off and install quicklinks on the anchor at the top of P2. Apr 9, 2012
Jason Ogasian
South Lake Tahoe
Jason Ogasian   South Lake Tahoe
2 new bolts were added to the anchors on all three pitches (standard rappel route) in fall of 2012. This was done thanks to donations to the ASCA.

safeclimbing.org/ Nov 18, 2012
Phil Gruber  
Big thanks to Mark Roth for replacing the bolts on this route in June of 2017. Thanks also to OSMP and the Flatiron's Climbing Council for approval and support, and to Richard Rossiter for supporting the relocation of the bolt at the crux... the bolt has now been aligned to the direction of the route and can be clipped before the crux dyno. The spice on pitch 1 remains. Jul 9, 2017
Bill Lawry
New Mexico
Bill Lawry   New Mexico
About a rap descent, perhaps this is already widely published information....

We recently purchased an old guidebook (2009) with a photo implying that one can use a couple anchors of Sea of Joy to do a 100' rap followed by a 90' rap. This was shown from the anchor at the top of Sea of Joy with one stop at the anchor at the top of P1. Granted, that was our interpretation of the photo, but we found that the large roof between those two anchors made it uncommonly difficult to reach the anchor at the top of P1. In the end, we decided to aid-assist our way down the bolts beneath the roof in order to get to the anchor at the top of P1.

Rather, Area Dan reports above that one can rap to the base from the top of P2 with a 70m rope (ours was 60m). This seems a better way to rap using Sea of Joy anchors and one rope.

I emailed the author of the guide. Aug 22, 2018
Another update to the description:

P1 (35 meters from where your belayer stands): begin directly below the apex of the north face, and look for a high first bolt up and left of the mossy/chossy ramp that leads up and right into Archaeopteryx. Climb about 20 feet up this ramp, and make a spooky step left (5.9 R) to clip the first bolt; you may also be able to come in from the left on small cams. In either case, the start is dirty and licheny, but it soon gets much better. Climb the slabby face on 5.10 terrain to an odd, kinda-hairy runout getting to bolt 5 or so. Above there, the pitch has much better, more sensible protection, with some interesting cruxes on ever-steepening rock. Turn the little bulge and highstep left to reach the first belay (no lowering hardware here—just two bolts with hangers), 5.11b.

P2 (7 meters): climb left off the belay into the steep, shattered rock, and follow hollow jug blocks to a bunchy, standup move. Make a wild stem left, regain your composure, then stretch for a jug on the arete. Kinda spooky to follow, as your rope runs up and around the arete as you're reaching out there. Clip one more bolt on the slab, turn the lip, and stand up to the hanging belay, 5 bolts to an anchor with lowering/rappelling hardware. You can easily rap to the ground/downclimb ramps from here with a 70m, 5.11d.

P3 (18 meters): the BIZ-NESS. Pop up off the belay, and preclip the first bolt, unless you like falling onto your belayer. Make a delicate traverse right to the ramp, then come back left on well-camouflaged slimpers to the second bolt. Pimp your way up on poor holds that finally turn into respectable crimpers when the wall steepens. All this bottom stuff felt like solid 5.12. Make your way up into a scoop, encounter another mini-crux on credit cards, then bleed it back on a couple of jug rests along the dike-like feature where Yellow Door comes in from the left. Continue along the dike until it peters out, then make a series of committing moves to get stood up, and clip the next-to-last bolt. At 5'6", I found it helpful to hang a long draw here. Segue into a leftward-sidling crux traverse with a big span move (I could just do it at my height; I have a +2 ape index), get set up, and punch for the jug hole—perhaps the most perfect Thank God hold in the Flatirons. Make a few more pimpy moves (5.12-) to get stood up, and move left to the groove/arete below the rappel chains, 8 or 9 bolts, old-school, hard 5.13a. Mega-pitch with wild exposure that takes some getting used to; will tire out both fingers and toes. Sep 27, 2018