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Sea of Holes 

YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a R

Type:  Sport, 2 pitches, 350'
Original:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R [details]
FA: Mike Head
Page Views: 9,354
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Aug 15, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (38)
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Susan starting the first pitch

Some areas require a guide.


A popular route. Both pitches are long and with widely spaced bolts which makes it feel less like a sport climb. It is possible to supplement the bolts by placing large cams in some of the "holes", but this hardly feels necessary. The 2nd pitch traverses right to within 15' of the tree in the corner, before going straight up the steep headwall (crux).The entire climb is steep climbing up huge huecos. Pumpy, but not technically difficult.

The good exposure and stinginess of bolts are what make this climb exciting. Take it for what it is.


The obvious pock-marked face immediately left of the large tree-topped corner.


pitch 1: 150ft (5.9), 4 bolts to 2-bolt anchor.
Pitch 2: 150ft (5.10-), 4 bolts and a small cam. 1 bolt anchor can be supplemented with mid-sized cams.

Photos of Sea of Holes Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Sea of Holes as viewed from the first pitch of Ind...
Sea of Holes as viewed from the first pitch of Ind...
Rock Climbing Photo: start of pitch 2.  used a #3 about ten feet from t...
start of pitch 2. used a #3 about ten feet from t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Susan out on the second pitch, near the top.
Susan out on the second pitch, near the top.
Rock Climbing Photo: Greg Opland sailing the Sea of Holes
Greg Opland sailing the Sea of Holes

Comments on Sea of Holes Add Comment
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By Larry Earley
From: Los Alamos, NM
Nov 5, 2006
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R

Pitch one is 9+. Put cam on ramp start and another large cam at start of steep headwall. A #3 Camalot doesn't fit great and neather does a #2. Ten feet up is bolt one. Hard clip stance. The rest of pitch is steady 5.9 climbing. Don't push your luck. A leader should be solid 10 to try this one. I saw a terrible accident in 1998. A guy fell just trying to clip bolt 2. He fell 80 feet to the ramp. Blood all over. A National Guard chopper landed and took him away. Never found out if he lived. Pitch two also runout and is solid 10a. Awesome climb. A must climb at Hueco. The original pitch one had only one bolt half way. Megga Classic climb. Watch out for bird S@@t on pitch two. Some nice huecos are slimbed up. I seconded the climb three times and would do it any day.
By Rob Dillon
Jan 20, 2007

Onsight free soloed for the FA by Mike Head.

Which begs the question: which came first, the name or the head?
By Russ Walling
Oct 16, 2007
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13

With all due respect Larry, you must have been having a heavy gravity day. Protection is adequate for the angle and the available holds. I would venture to say that any 5.8 leader with a fairly solid lead head can float this thing. All buckets, all the time, and maybe not a loose hold on it.

Pitch lengths are a bit off too:
First Pitch: After going up the 3rd class ramp, there is probably 125ft of climbing max.
Second Pitch: Maybe 115ft of climbing.
We had an 84m rope and it went top to bottom with 30ft to spare.

First pitch: 5.7+
Second Pitch: 5.8+
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Oct 17, 2007
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R

P1 is easy enough to follow the bolts. P2 on the other hand is a bit tricker. There are so many holds and so far between the bolt line it is easy to get off track.

P2 directly right of the anchor 4 feet is a mystery bolt that is not needed . I did note in my guide to head right towards the tree route after the 3rd bolt (p2) using the varnished well huecoed rock to find the 4th bolt.

The single bolt anchor can be supplimented with 1 1/2- 2" cams. Look to create a small directional to keep the cord from running over small rocks that would bomb the people below.
By Gilroy
From: Boulderado
May 30, 2008
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

This bee-you-T-full route is worth carrying a couple of large (#10 & 11) Hexcentrics for stuffing into huecos. They are bomber where no SLCD will fit and help raise the casualness factor considerably.
By Ken Trout
From: Golden, CO
Feb 10, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R

Thank you both for the summit belay back-up and big hex beta. I also added some C4 beta to the photo captioned: "Susan starting the first pitch".

Normally I'd just cut and run between the bolts on the Front Side. After hearing about the bolt on Desperado, finding back-up gear is worth the effort.

PS: I thought the theory was that the hard moves to the first bolt test the leader. If we feel good and solid after clipping the first bolt, then the rest of the route will be fun too. I wonder if the person who fell was not feeling solid but pushed on anyway?

PPS: Russ is right about the 5.7 & 5.8. Hueco is one of the rare crags where the locals uprated the hairy leads for the saftey of others.
By boulderkeith
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 6, 2010
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R

Disagree with the comments describing this route as 5.7. Yes, Hueco ratings are softish but seriously, you think this is the same difficulty as Uriah's Heap?
By Grear Wilson
Jun 20, 2011

Any comments on the reliability of the bolts on this route? When I climbed it, a few of them looked a lot like bolts I have seen pictures of saying they were recalled. I guess as always, the best option is just to not fall.
By Austin Howell
From: Atlanta, Georgia
Sep 3, 2012

Onsight soloed back in Fall 2010, then soloed about six more laps on it Spring 2011. Quite possibly my favorite 5.10a in the universe, it's exactly what the name implies and just keeps you wanting more! Can't really comment on the protection, still haven't roped up on it.

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