Choose Life (5.14-), Seal Rock:
The proposed climb, Choose Life, is on the central south face of Seal Rock, which to date has no bolted climbs save an old anchor at the lip of the wall twenty feet right of the proposed climb. Choose Life was redpointed on toprope in 2002, and takes a clean, striking line up an overhanging black streak on one of the steepest parts of the face. It is a 95-foot climb that begins with an arching 5.12a crack-like feature before traversing left (5.12-) into the streak proper; from there, unrelenting 5.13 and 5.13+ climbing follows the streak to the top of the wall. The applicants propose using at most eleven protection bolts, plus an additional two bolts with rings-and-chain at the anchor; a mixture of traditional and bolted protection can be used on the initial thirty feet, after which the climb offers no opportunities for natural gear. Given the sustained nature of the climbing and paucity of clipping stances on the top half, some of the bolts will have to be somewhat widely spaced—more than a body length apart—as a matter of course, though the route will still be absolutely safe.
The south face of Seal Rock is at present home to three other climbs: Jade Gate (5.11b, traditional), Skin Flute (5.12-, toprope/traditional), and Primate (5.13 toprope/traditional). Jade Gate and Skin Flute are 15 feet apart on the lower wall; Primate sits 100 feet uphill (west) from those; and the start of Choose Life is 30 feet uphill from the start of Primate. There is also an anchor at the lip of the wall between Primate and Choose Life that was installed in the late 1980s before the bolting ban, in anticipation of establishing a sport climb on the face below.
The approach is via the designated but unsigned Harmon Cave Trail, an OSMP Trail that leaves the Mesa Trail near Bear Canyon and heads west to the eponymous cave. From the cave, a designated climber-access path heads south toward Seal Rock, and has traditionally been used to access the east- and north-face climbs. Where this trail hits the northeast toe of the rock, a 100-yard spur trail switches back south along the base of the Seal Pup to a saddle at the bottom of Seal Rock’s south face. From here a gently inclined gully leads up along the south face below the climbs. The staging area at the base of the climb is comprised of compact brown soil mixed with talus-sized rocks. It is flat or gradually inclined, with one large (car-sized) boulder embedded in the gully down and slightly to climber’s right of the start of the route.
The descent will be via a lower-off from the top of the climb, which deposits you back at the staging area.
FHRC Overview of the application: Complete
Voting Results: Approved
OSMP Decision: Approved
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