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Routes in Seal Rock

Archaeopteryx T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a X
Choose Life S 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a
Choose Muscle S 5.13c/d 8b 31 X 31 E8 7a PG13
East Face North Side/Seal Rock T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
East Face South Side T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
Gruffalo, The S 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Hinge, The S 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c
I Am The Walrus S 5.14a/b 8c 33 X+ 33 E9 7b
Jade Gate S 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Misbehaven T,TR 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a X
Primate T 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c PG13
Sea Bird T 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b PG13
Sea of Joy S 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c A0
Shortcut (East Face) T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
Skin Flute S 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
Southwest Face T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
Stoop, The S 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Super Tuscan S 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
Supercell S 5.13c/d 8b 31 X 31 E8 7a
Thunder Muscle S 5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a
Yellow Door, The S 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
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Type: Sport, 200 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Phil Gruber, July 2017
Page Views: 1,306 total · 84/month
Shared By: Phil Gruber on Jul 11, 2017
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures Details


Note: the description and naming convention have been updated for clarity and simplicity and to align to how most people will want to climb the route.

The Yellow Door is a two pitch route that ascends the full length of the beautiful and imposing north face of Seal Rock, starting from the lower left corner and finishing at the top of the upper headwall. The route climbs across two natural features – a long, arching roof on the first pitch, and a yellow dike that splits the headwall on the second pitch.

The pitches are long and continuous, and the headwall feels steeper than it looks given that you climb with hands on the protruding dike and feet underneath.

P1: 5.12b/c, 120’. Start 20’ to the right of Shortcut (the notch to the north of the east face) and 80’ left of Sea of Joy. Climb a short, left-trending crack (place a #0.75 or #1 Camalot, or make a long stick clip to the first bolt) then gain a stance at the first bolt. Climb up and right to gain a long undercling flake, and traverse across the flake. Now the fun begins! Climb the line of bolts through continuous and technical terrain to the roof. At the roof, climb out the rail to the right, and then step left across the roof and reach far left to a hold on the face. Easier terrain leads up, trending left initially, and then back right to the anchor.

P2: 5.13b, 80'. Start up the V-slot to the right of the belay, then step right onto a ledge. Continue to the right side of the ledge, enter The Yellow Door, and climb through continuous and well-protected ground that eventually joins up with the 3rd pitch of Sea of Joy. Climb Sea of Joy following the line of bolts that goes straight up the black streak to the top of the wall. Note that Sea of Joy (and this route) climbs out the dike to the right a ways. However, instead of clipping the next bolt on the dike (as for Sea Bird), step up onto the dike and reach back to the left to clip the bolt at the crux of Sea of Joy.

P2 Variation (Yellow Door original): 13a/b (10+ PG-13), 100'. Climb the full length of the yellow dike all the way to the Archaeopteryx exit on the upper right corner of the wall. This is the way the route was originally conceived and climbed. It creates a long, intense and beautiful pitch but is quite involved due to the traversing and the mix of hard sport and exiting trad climbing. Rather than finishing up Sea of Joy, continue along the dike to the right, clipping 2 more bolts. After the final bolt, climb down and across to the slab and join Archaeopteryx. Climb up and out the exit slot on Archaeopteryx. See gear details on the description for Sea Bird.

Thanks to OSMP, the Flatiron Climbing Council, and the crew who took turns hiking up to Seal and helping me establish the route: Stephen, Kevin, Mike, Chip, Jon, Joe, and Lynn. Special thanks to Caroline Treadway who took the amazing photos from across Bear Canyon.


The route is on the north face of Seal Rock. Approach via the trail to Seal Rock, and then continue to hike west, passing the base of Seal Rock to the right (north) and up the steep climber’s trail until you reach the beautiful and imposing north face.


P1: 14 bolts plus anchor. A #0.75 or #1 Camalot... or a long stick clip is required at the start.

P2: 14 bolts plus anchor. This pitch can be equipped by scrambling up the East Face (Shortcut, 5.4) to the anchor.

A 70m rope is mandatory.
Phil Gruber
Phil Gruber  
This route serves as a tribute to my father in-law, Doctor Jim Raybin.

I know it’s tempting to over eulogize people after they die, but Jim really was an amazing soul and an important fixture in this crazy town called Boulder. Through his personal relationships and his profession as a psychiatrist, Jim was a friend, mentor, counselor, and guide to literally thousands of people in Boulder over his lifetime. He and his wife Kathy lived in the same house near Chautauqua Park for over 42 years. They raised two amazing daughters there, one of which would become my wife.

Flagstaff Mountain was in Jim’s backyard, and he loved to ride his bike to the top. Jim rode on Flagstaff well into his 77th year on his highly-modified bike with the smallest granny gear U-Bikes could engineer. Over the course of his life, Jim rode up Flagstaff over 5,000 times. On each ride, Jim would take a deep breath, look across at the Flatirons rising from the plains, and say a prayer of gratitude… “thank you Lord, one more time”.

It’s with that heart of gratitude that I climbed this route, gratitude for Jim and the way he supported and blessed me and so many others. Gratitude also for this beautiful place – Boulder, the Flatirons, and Seal Rock, which is in my own backyard and has become my “Flagstaff Mountain”.

I was working on this climb -- the Yellow Door to the Sea of Joy –- while Jim was in the final stages of MDS (a form of blood cancer). Before my redpoint on the route, I hiked up to Seal Rock for one last practice session, alone on rope solo. It was July 4th, the day before Jim died. On the hike in, it occurred to me that the route was the perfect metaphor for the journey that Jim was on – passing from this life to the next, up through The Yellow Door and into the Sea of Joy.

Three days after Jim died, I hiked up to Seal Rock again, this time with Lynn Hill who had graciously agreed to change her plans and support the final ascent. It was a beautiful day in Boulder, one of thousands… “thank you Lord, one more time.” Oct 29, 2017
Excellent route, beautiful location, and probably the best spot in the Flatirons for harder climbing in warm weather.

The crux second pitch is fantastic! Likely the best of the grade in the Flatirons, with engaging, continuous climbing. There is no "filler" on the entire hundred foot pitch; a rarity for the Front Range.

The 5.12 opener is more or less a sport climb as well. The #1 C4 and #0.5 C4 go in early on the pitch and are relatively optional if you're comfortable on 5.8 terrain, so don't be deterred from trying this route for fear of having to fiddle with gear. A few long runners are nice to mitigate rope drag.

When you finish the first pitch, it's easy to lower the leader's rope end to the ground to pull up a pack. That way everyone can be comfortable while trying the crux pitch. Oct 30, 2017
I agree with Josh: the second pitch is among the best of its grade in the Flatirons and I would even say on the Front Range. It's continuous, intricate, and the line is beautiful yet barely there. The Sea of Joy finish completes this incredible pitch. Oct 5, 2018

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