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Seal Rock
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Archaeopteryx T 
Choose Life S,TR 
Choose Muscle S 
East Face North Side/Seal Rock T 
East Face South Side T 
Gruffalo, The S 
I Am The Walrus S 
Jade Gate S 
Misbehaven T,TR 
Primate T 
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Sea of Joy S 
Shortcut (East Face) T 
Skin Flute S,TR 
Southwest Face T 
Supercell S 
Thunder Muscle S 
Yellow Door Direct S 
Yellow Door, The T 

Thunder Muscle 

YDS: 5.14a French: 8b+ Ewbanks: 32 UIAA: X+ ZA: 32 British: E8 7a

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 90'
Original:  YDS: 5.14a French: 8b+ Ewbanks: 32 UIAA: X+ ZA: 32 British: E8 7a [details]
FA: Matt Samet, Ted Lanzano, Brett Nelson, and Tony Yao
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 9,301
Submitted By: Ted Lanzano on Jun 5, 2013

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (15)
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TM goodness. Photo credit: Sarah Stinchcomb.

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  • Description 

    Thunder Muscle is a new climb between Primate and Choose Life that ascends the spectacular tufa formations to the top of Seal Rock’s south face. The climb was first scoped by Chip Ruckgaber who worked with Colin Lantz and Chris Beh to put in anchors right before the ban (see more info from Chris Beh below). We moved those anchors to the left about 10’ to minimize rope drag. The climbing is very continuous, bouldery, and overall super fun on some of the best rock in the Flatirons.

    The start is the same as for Choose Life, clipping the first three bolts of the right-leaning overhang. The route then goes straight up into a series of powerful sequences on steep terrain to a heart shaped feature where you can get a quick shake. After “the heart”, continue through more tricky and increasingly pumpy climbing on pinches, sidepulls and pebbles up to an awkward shelf. A final 12c section guards the chains.

    The climb is named after the energy drink “Thunder Muscle” featured on the Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.

    As always, thanks so much to OSMP and the Flatirons Climbing Council for this new route and all the other new ones now in the Flatirons.

    Please be mindful of the special and delicate setting and stay on the trails!


    There are 13 bolts and a two bolt anchor. Long runners helpful at bolts 3 and 4.

    Photos of Thunder Muscle Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Setting up for the 3rd crux of this beast!
    Setting up for the 3rd crux of this beast!
    Rock Climbing Photo: Mid-crux and a whole lot of climbing to go....
    Mid-crux and a whole lot of climbing to go....
    Rock Climbing Photo: Burly ass tufa pinching on Thunder Muscle. This ro...
    Burly ass tufa pinching on Thunder Muscle. This ro...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Setting up the first crux...the hardest move on th...
    Setting up the first crux...the hardest move on th...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Cruxin' on TM....
    Cruxin' on TM....
    Rock Climbing Photo: The top 3/4 or so of the route, before we put in t...
    The top 3/4 or so of the route, before we put in t...

    Comments on Thunder Muscle Add Comment
    Show which comments
    By Pinklebear
    Jun 5, 2013
    rating: 5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a

    Before trying the route, be sure to power up with some "Thunder Muscle":
    By Chris Beh
    Jun 5, 2013

    The credit for discovering this line belongs to Chip Ruckgaber. He cornered Colin Lantz and me one fine, fall day in '89 spraying about the "tufa" he discovered. We were stoked when we saw the South Face of Seal Rock up close, it having such obvious potential. Chip and Colin climbed up to put the anchor in while I spotted the line from on top of The Pup. We thought we were going to have an awesome crag for winter climbing. The Flatirons ended up being closed to bolting just days later. Good to see you guys taking care of unfinished business!
    By Curt MacNeill
    From: Boulder, CO
    Mar 16, 2014
    rating: 5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a

    What a great route! So polar opposite of its neighbor, Choose Life, it's hard to compare. Very bouldery moves with the crux coming quickly after the knee bar rest at bolt 3. Once you're through the crux, the route stays with you all the way to the top, with a great spot to shake out halfway up on the toilet bowl feature. Lots of body tensiony moves on this one with some bad holds. Other than the "heart"-shaped feature at mid-height, I don't think there is a single jug on this beast. Great route. Super sustained. Power endurance at its finest....
    By Elliott Bates
    May 19, 2014
    rating: 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a

    This route is classic. This route is fun. It is hard, but I agree with Tank. With the modern technologies of knee pads, this route is not 5.14. Is it true that Pinklebear did it in sweatpants (obviously sans pads)? In this style (Chuck Norris beast-mode style), I believe it may warrant a 14a rating.

    Well done FA, gents. This, along with its neighbor, is an absolute gem.
    By Pinklebear
    May 21, 2014
    rating: 5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a

    Glad you liked the climb, Elliott. I did do it without kneepads, yes, and in ratty cotton sweat pants. I used a left kneescum up at that top crux on the tufa feature. Ted has way better kneebar-tech skills and in addition to that scum had one lower down on the route with his right leg, before "the Heart." I'm guessing other kneebars have been unearthed, using pads, in other spots too. C'est la vie…er, knee.
    By Elliott Bates
    May 21, 2014
    rating: 5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a

    Well that's just badass, PB! Props to you and Ted for getting this done in two different styles. Fortunately, I don't think TM will "dumb-down" any further with tons of kneebars. I'll slam a kneebar wherever possible, but I only found a few on this one.
    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 Curt MacNeill
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 1, 2015
    rating: 5.14a 8b+ 32 X+ 32 E8 7a

    Margo Hayes was up at Seal today and sent Thunder Muscle. I believe that this is the first female FA. Congrats, Margo. Nice to finally see some chicas getting after it on the hard lines up here!

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