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Choose Life 

YDS: 5.13c/d French: 8b Ewbanks: 31 UIAA: X ZA: 31 British: E8 7a

Type:  Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 100'
Original:  YDS: 5.13d French: 8b Ewbanks: 31 UIAA: X ZA: 32 British: E8 7a [details]
FA: Team Super-Way-Awesome (Pinklebear, T-Shred, G-Lover)
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 13,281
Submitted By: Pinklebear on Sep 14, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (28)
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Best hard sport route in the Front Range? One of m...

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  • Description 

    This is a long (95-foot) lead on the south face of Seal Rock, 30 feet uphill from the base of Primate. It climbs the long, striking, wide chocolate-brown/black streak and is a sustained yet varied pitch with the technical and redpoint crux at bolt 12, the next-to-last clip.

    There are thirteen bolts to chains over the lip; a 60m rope is MANDATORY. Long draws and extendo draws are useful in spots. A Metolius 6 (green) is helpful below third bolt, and Metolius 2 (yellow) is useful after third bolt.

    Begin in the right-leaning hand crack/undercling and follow it to its terminus. Traverse left along a diagonal break into a scoop. Hard kneebar/sloper moves take you over a small lip and into the base of the black streak; the climbing increases in difficulty, with a dynamic crux before a decent shake. From the rest, move up and a little left into a black bowl under the bulge, then surmount the bulge via sustained pulls on underclings, embedded pebbles and crimpers, finishing at a good bathtub jug at the top of the wall. This route is best attempted with fresh skin and good conditions.

    May thanks to OSMP, the Access Fund, and the Flatirons Climbing Council for making new-routing possible in the Flatirons!

    The name refers to a decision in 2002, after toproping the climb (FA toprope ascent: Matt Samet, Steve Dieckhoff, Strappo Hughes), to not attempt it as a super-death lead on gear, not to any anti-abortion stance.

    It also references the classic opening paragraph in the Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting: "Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking, big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest, mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suit on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . ."


    13 bolts. Metolius Nos. 6 and 2. Extendo draws/long slings.

    Photos of Choose Life Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Dan Levison cranking through the endless sea of co...
    Dan Levison cranking through the endless sea of co...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Bart Paul going for the send on Choose Life in the...
    Bart Paul going for the send on Choose Life in the...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Hey look mom, it's me on my project!
    Hey look mom, it's me on my project!
    Rock Climbing Photo: T-Shred, taking care of da bizzleness.
    T-Shred, taking care of da bizzleness.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Choose Life. One amazing rock climb!
    Choose Life. One amazing rock climb!
    Rock Climbing Photo: Every time I climb this route I feel like I got la...
    Every time I climb this route I feel like I got la...
    Rock Climbing Photo: T-Shred, many feet left to climb....
    T-Shred, many feet left to climb....
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pretty big fall off the crux, but safe--all air.
    Pretty big fall off the crux, but safe--all air.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Low on the route, in hueco pockets.
    Low on the route, in hueco pockets.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Choose Life climbs the black streak just left of/b...
    Choose Life climbs the black streak just left of/b...

    Comments on Choose Life Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 25, 2017
    By Pinklebear
    Mar 23, 2012

    There is an application to install this route as a lead climb at: flatironsclimbingcouncil.wordp...

    This (south) side of Seal Rock is pending opening to new-route activity as part of the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between OSMP and the Flatirons Climbing Council. Other formations to be added include the Goose, Sacred Cliffs, and Fiddlehead. Stay tuned to for more information.
    By Peter Beal
    From: Boulder Colorado
    Mar 25, 2012

    I was wondering when this would be proposed. Tip of the iceberg in terms of this grade in the Flatirons.
    By Christopher Barlow
    Apr 29, 2012

    Man, it would be cool if this route were approved. Thanks to the folks whose efforts have persuaded OSMP to consider this kind of development. It will be quite a contribution to the climbing community.
    By Pinklebear
    May 8, 2012

    The FHRC's public meeting and vote for the May 2012 cycle will be held at The Spot gym, Boulder, CO, Wednesday May 30 at 6:30 p.m.

    Choose Life, on the South Face of Seal Rock, is the sole application for this cycle:
    By Chris Plesko
    From: Westminster, CO
    Jul 23, 2012

    Did it pass?
    By Pinklebear
    Jul 31, 2012

    It did pass, yes, but isn't yet installed--we were waiting for the fire and bird closures to lift.
    By gregory locker
    Dec 1, 2012

    Have the bolts been installed on this one?
    By Pinklebear
    Dec 1, 2012

    @Gregory, yes they have. Sorry, have been meaning to update the description. 13 bolts to chains, 60m rope mandatory. Metolius green (6) useful below third bolt, Metolius yellow (2) helpful above third bolt--once draws are hanging you might not need the gear. Long draws and/or extendo draws useful in spots for drag. Enjoy!
    By gregory locker
    Dec 2, 2012

    Splendid! Thanks for all work it took to put this one in. Can't wait to get up and try it.
    By Curt MacNeill
    From: Boulder, CO
    Feb 22, 2013
    rating: 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a

    This could be the best route I have done in Colorado. Reminds me of Ultrasaurus on steroids. This ones gonna take me some work. Kudos to Matt for bolting this thing.
    By Pinklebear
    Mar 21, 2013

    Thanks, Chris, for the heads-up on the bolt. We'll be up there soon and will try to tighten, or if anyone's getting on it these are 1/2" five-piece bolts, so you need a 9/16" wrench or socket.
    By Ben Sachs
    Dec 16, 2013
    rating: 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a

    This is probably my new favorite sport route in the Flatirons and perhaps the entire Front Range. It's steep and super fun with varied movement on cool holds, culminating with a crux at the very top. Fully deserves every bit of 4 stars. As for the grade, I'm not sure if the route holds at 13d if you use the (newly discovered?) no-hands rest below the upper crux. If you have strong calves, it's a very good rest, at least for your arms. I'd be interested to hear if this was used by previous ascents?
    By Ted Lanzano
    From: Boulder, CO
    Dec 16, 2013
    rating: 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a

    The original ascents did not use the rest that you mentioned. From the mail slot below the crux, we went up and left to the hueco, got a quick shake, and continued into the crux. I recall looking at that rest out right, but it seemed kind of funky to go over there.
    By Ben Sachs
    Dec 16, 2013
    rating: 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a

    Thanks, Ted. It's a bit weird to get into and super strenuous on the calves, but it certainly feels on-route and logical. Once we were shown, it felt silly to avoid it. Seems some people have used it and still thought 13d though, so who knows? There are at least 4 potentially no-hands rests on the route, yet it's still very possible to pump off the top moves....
    By Pinklebear
    Dec 16, 2013

    It's always interesting how grades evolve on a climb, with traffic, new beta, holds in flux, etc. Who knows how hard this thing really is -- or any climb for that matter. It's always an interesting discussion.

    When I first started trying this climb, it was July 2002, and while I knew Choose Life would go, I kept slipping off all the slopey holds up top in the heat because my hands were sweating so badly after 60 feet of climbing. I tried it on and off a few times that summer, gave up for awhile, then came back in mid-October 2002 and freed it one perfect-temps day with Steve Dieckhoff and Strappo Hughes. Because I was working the line on TR, trammed into the belayer's side of the rope and with iffy directional gear, it was difficult to get all the holds clean, especially to the sides where the rests are being discovered now. When Ted and I came back and did this as a lead climb in 2012, it's certain we got locked into the "straight-up-the-bolts" beta most first ascentionists get locked into. The climb just seemed coolest that way, beelining up the mondo black streak. We were also a bit scared of the chossier-looking rock off to the sides of the streak, so maybe made things harder than they needed to be by not exploring some of the other possibilities. (Be aware that we did little, if no, cleaning off to the sides!)

    I kind of look at the evolving beta/grade on highly trafficked sport climbs as something like a sunset: There is no "right" or "wrong" sunset, nor can you really, in the end, quantify the experience of watching a beautiful sunset. There is only you, and the moment, and its perfection; and then it's gone. Someone else can come to the same vantage on another evening and see another sunset, perhaps just as beautiful, but their experience will not be yours, and vice versa. There is no direct comparison. The same could be said of a rock climb: the experience is what will stay with you long after you top out, and not the grade. The grade is simply a shorthand we climbers use to motivate ourselves and to communicate to each other, more or less, the challenge of a given climb. Whatever number or letter or symbol or whatever you put on Choose Life, it's still one hell of a rock climb, and was here long before us and will remain long after we all are gone.
    By Train4life
    From: Boulder, CO
    Feb 9, 2014
    rating: 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a

    I have not climbed this route...but wanted to write a quick note on the hilarity of "Boulder 12d"! and to thank you for putting that! :) Thanks for making that joke, and I agree with it that this route is prob. a 12a, maybe just maybe, in Eldorado Canyon and in Rilfe!!! Thanks for the laugh!
    By Curt MacNeill
    From: Boulder, CO
    Mar 10, 2014
    rating: 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a

    Well said, Matt! With a little over a year and a lot of effort, I finally sent. The experience I had will stick with me forever. I shed blood, sweat, and tears on this route, and clipping chains on this beast was truly one of the proudest accomplishments of my entire life. Thanks for putting in such a proud line, your vision, your words of wisdom, and the unforgettable year long experience you gave me while I worked it. I will never forget it....
    By Elliott Bates
    Mar 26, 2014
    rating: 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a

    I agree with Ben in that once you know the rest out right is there, it's silly not to use it.... It's one simple (not-awkward) move to get in, and once you're in, you can get it all back, hence my grade. With or without the rest, it's an incredible rock climb and by far the best I've done in the Flatties. Thanks to Pinklebear and Ted for your efforts!
    By Bruno Hache
    From: Longmont, CO
    Apr 27, 2014

    Yes, the evolve of the grade for a given climb.
    As a FA, I usually propose with two letters like 5.11c/d for example.
    Pick you own letter as you wish. Everybody is happy.
    By Tank Evans
    May 4, 2014
    rating: 5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c

    I went up and climbed this again with the newly-found rests. Kind of a bummer that they are there, because it really chops up what was formerly a great endurance route, but the no-hands before the crux definitely makes sense. The flakes are such choss....
    By Rob Eison
    From: Denver, CO
    May 15, 2014
    rating: 5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a

    Tank and Elliott are correct in their grade assessment. The rest features to the right between bolts 9 and 11 lower the difficulty by at least a letter grade. The stem out right before the upper crux makes sense, but I'd be wary of the jugs being used below to the right between bolts 9 and 10. This is a surfboard-sized feature of dubious integrity, hollow and fractured in places with some flex on the lower right panel. Remember that Matt and Ted did not clean this band of rock, thus use it at your own (and your belayer's) risk.
    By Flatirons Climbing Council
    Nov 29, 2014

    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!
    By topher donahue
    Apr 25, 2016

    Thanks to whoever removed the sketchy and tempting choss flakes to the right of the first crux.
    By Star Pais
    Oct 6, 2016

    Curt and I cleaned it last fall after seeing how much traffic the route was getting and not totally being comfortable whilst belaying on TM and watching people above us yard on it to avoid a crux. It came off relatively easily and in some bone crushing chunks.
    By Pinklebear
    Oct 6, 2016

    I appreciate you guys removing that choss. Ted and I started to mess with it but then gave up, figuring no one would ever go over there. Guess we were wrong....
    By Dr. VARMENT
    From: Boulder, Colorado
    Apr 25, 2017

    So great! I worked this one into submission, the movement is elegant and intricate. I'm a little worried that every other sport climb in the Front Range is going to feel boring.

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