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CAMP Ballnuts / Lowe Balls - Love em? Hate em? Worthless? Priceless?
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By D@n
From Boulder, CO
Dec 12, 2008
Head full of lead. Photo by Frosty Weller

Just wondering if anyone has anything to say about CAMP ballnuts, or Lowe balls. Where do they shine? Where do they suck? What's your experience with them? Would you buy them?

I'm a Boulder climber who climbs mostly in Boulder and Eldo canyon with an eye on sending some of the harder (.12) routes in Eldo. Right now my small gear is a rack of wires, BD RP's, Metolius TCU's, and C3's.


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By Tradster
From Phoenix, AZ
Dec 12, 2008

I've got some Lowe Balls and have found that they work where nothing else will. Super small p pockets for one, thin seams for another. If you fall on one, it can be a real bear to try removing. The smallest one is not worth buying in my opinion...but the next two sizes up I've been glad to have at times. They are rather like Tricams, you don't always need them but when you do, they are the bomb, because nothing else seems to work.


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By John J. Glime
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 12, 2008
...

I love placing them. I LOATHE cleaning them.


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By J C Wilks
From Loveland, CO
Dec 12, 2008

Tradster wrote:
I've got some Lowe Balls and have found that they work where nothing else will.


Absolutely true. I have the original 3 smallest and now they make 5 sizes. I've used them in blade/LA scars on aid. I use the smallest one but the strength is pretty low so don't push it. Equalize with another piece if possible.

I can think of one slot which might take only the #4. It was a slot that was a bit too big for the #3 which pulled as I passed. No other cam would be narrow enough, side to side, to fit into that parallel walled hole.

You don't need it for every day routes but there are the exceptions. I've never had any falls on them, so no problems removing them in my experience. If they get stuck remember to push up on the end loop as you pull down on the trigger.


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By Malcolm Daly
From Boulder, CO
Dec 12, 2008

I agree, the #1 BallNutz us useless. Until it's the only thing you have that will fit. Then it's priceless.

Here's the trick to removing BallNutz. (Funny thing about both BallNutz and TriCams: People think they are hard to remove. They just don't remove like the other stuff on your rack.) When you operate the trigger in the air, like everyone does, it's the ball that moves, right? But when they're in a placement, it's the ramp that moves, not the ball. Sooooo, to remove one, poke at the ramp with your tool. Once it's moving then squeeze the trigger and the thing will pop out. Beware the #1 though, it's hard to get out because it's thinner than your nut tool.

Safe climbing,
Mal


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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Dec 12, 2008
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "Alan Nelson's Bulging Belly" (5.10, X) on the Lost and Found Flatiron. Belayer is Mark Ruocco. Photo by Bill Wright, 10/06.

The smallest 3 are part of my normal rack for thin cracks.
YOu have to treat them nicely and not abuse them in the pack to keep the ball over the ramp - if that cable kinks, via getting stuck in the paper-clip gate of a wire-biner, you're hosed, it won't stay seated anymore- it foats high in the air and getting ticky placements requires some pretension between those peices.

That said, to me they are like offset nuts- they suck in many placements, but go where nothing else does. You are always thankful to get one in, as presumably, nothing else would have fit.


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By Mike Mu.
Dec 12, 2008
The Nose from the road

I love my lowe balls. I have the 2 biggest sizes. Nothing else like them


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By Joey Wolfe
Dec 12, 2008

I thought they were a joke, until I used one(red and blue trango). Know I never leave the ground without at least the red trango. I never like to get too high over one but have total faith in them to protect a few moves.

Still haven't taken a fall on one, i've heard that if you whip on one and it saves your bacon it may be fixed in there for a season or two.

Anyone have experience with taking a fall on one?


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By Tradster
From Phoenix, AZ
Dec 12, 2008

Joey Wolfe wrote:
I thought they were a joke, until I used one(red and blue trango). Know I never leave the ground without at least the red trango. I never like to get too high over one but have total faith in them to protect a few moves. Still haven't taken a fall on one, i've heard that if you whip on one and it saves your bacon it may be fixed in there for a season or two. Anyone have experience with taking a fall on one?


I fell about ten feet onto a #2 Lowe Ball. It took twenty minutes to remove. It felt like it had fused to the rock. My buddy looked at me and said something like: "Well, now we know that sucker works!" It was in good shape when it finally exited the crack. I almost had to clean my britches on that one. Ever since then, I've had great faith in them. Tony Bubb is right about not messing up the wires. You might get a piece out after a fall, but it could be mangled.


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By John J. Glime
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 12, 2008
...

I have fallen on them in sandstone... the nice thing about sandstone is that you can 'chisel out' the locked lowe ball. Having a hammer can help too.


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By Wayne Crill
From an Altered State
Dec 12, 2008
pilon fracture

Yes I concur with all, they are specialty items (unlike the ALWAYS useful pinky tricam) but there are certain places they really shine, like just around the arete on p2 of the edge. Re Tony's wire comment I've found that overbending the wire back parallel to the side of the "ramp" (as Mal calls it) can help to get them back on track again. Although that could lead to weakness in the ball wire. I have infact had the wire running to the ball break on me upon falling onto a lowe-ball, it of course was useless after that but held the fall just fine.

As someone above alluded to really great for aid climbing too!

A must have on the gear rack for anyone putting the rad back in trad.


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By Josh Janes
Dec 12, 2008

John J. Glime wrote:
...the nice thing about sandstone is that you can 'chisel out' the locked lowe ball. Having a hammer can help too.


Can, but maybe shouldn't?

Personally, I can only think of one climb in Eldo where a Ballnut is the only piece of pro you can get (and it is rated 5.13+ R). For example, #4 and #5 BD Micro Stoppers and #3 and #4 standard BD stoppers can all fit in that that spot around the arete on the Edge (pitch 2). If you already have TCU's and C3's, I'd say you're much better off investing your cash in a black Alien or some bronze offsets if you can find them.


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By Pete Elliott
From Co Spgs CO
Dec 12, 2008

I have the three smaller ones and love 'em. Hard-ish to clean if you get all excitable when setting them.


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By Wayne Crill
From an Altered State
Dec 12, 2008
pilon fracture

Josh Janes wrote:
For example, #4 and #5 BD Micro Stoppers and #3 and #4 standard BD stoppers can all fit in that that spot around the arete on the Edge (pitch 2). If you already have TCU's and C3's, I'd say you're much better off investing your cash in a black Alien or some bronze offsets if you can find them.


Yeah yeah yeah, 100% agreed josh, I guess when I say "must have" I mean only for foolish gear heads like me who like to have a bit of everything. I think C3's are certainly the best micro cams EVER. neverthelss there are places where ballnuts are great and as close to "essential" as any piece of gear could be.


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By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From Golden, CO
Dec 12, 2008
Lone goat..

It maybe should be a Glenn Campbell Country song,"a Lowe ball nut saved my life on Half Dome". Josh, watch it man. Wayne knows his climbing.

Not saying your wrong, just saying hold back a bit. Come by for beer..


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By Aaron G
From Driggs, ID
Dec 12, 2008
The boots felt better in the store than after 20 miles of hiking...

Another vote for Love em. They have been in my aiding bag o tricks for years. I suppose they could be used for free climbing..... yikes!


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By JLP
From The Internet
Dec 12, 2008

How about some specifics - ie, route name, placement location - where this piece was the only thing going? I'm sure they are out there.

I'm with Josh, though. They sit with my copperheads and pitons, and even then, I'll only use them on a clean aid route or very rarely for expando. I've done enough clean aid with them, where you are actually testing them, to know they generally suck. They are extremely technical to place if you want a "If this pulls I'm going to the hospital" level of certainty that you can usually get with a cam or a nut (or a Lost Arrow). Therefore, not useful for most free climbing, IMO.


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By John J. Glime
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 12, 2008
...

Josh Janes wrote:
Can, but maybe shouldn't?


You definitely should because after you chisel it out, it isn't a lowe ball placement any more, you can then place a proper cam. Think of it sort of like community service.

You have to see the big picture...


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By Jay Knower
Administrator
From Plymouth, NH
Dec 12, 2008
Technosurfing, Rumney. Photo by Seth Hamel.

Josh Janes wrote:
Personally, I can only think of one climb in Eldo where a Ballnut is the only piece of pro you can get (and it is rated 5.13+ R).



Would that be Musta Been High?


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By John Hegyes
From Las Vegas, NV
Dec 12, 2008
South of Windy Peak

I love Loweballs. I believe they are stronger than a similar sized cam. I can't say that they are easier to place or stay in the rock as well as a cam, but I have fallen on one, saving me from a ground fall, so I vouch for them. And sometimes they are the only thing that will fit...

I don't use any cams below Metolius #1 (blue), if I need something smaller, I'd bring the Loweballs.


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By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Dec 12, 2008
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013

mike mullendore wrote:
I love my lowe balls. I have the 2 biggest sizes. Nothing else like them


LOL........LOL.........


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By Stephen Davis
Dec 13, 2008

I'd agree with the posters that say they are kinda a specialty piece. If you are projecting a route and whipping on them a lot then extricating them could be a real hassle, unless you're willing to sacrifice it as fixed gear. I have both these and large offsets and small brass offsets, and I'd defiantly say that I wish I had bought the small and offset pro before I had bought the ballnutz. But if you already have enough nuts, and like buying more toys, then go for it when I've wanted mine they were nice to have, but they aren't a regular part of my free rack.


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By Hank Caylor
Administrator
From Golden, CO
Dec 13, 2008
Lone goat..

Aaron G wrote:
Another vote for Love em. They have been in my aiding bag o tricks for years. I suppose they could be used for free climbing..... yikes!


Yep, #2 Lowe Ball nut saved my life."Clean" Dan Grandusky is gone but his help saved my life.


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By Chris Owen
Administrator
From La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Dec 29, 2008
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake District (UK) late '70s

I like them - I have used the three smallest sizes, ripped out a number 1 on Miscalculation at Suicide Rock, it was connected using a Yates Screamer but blew before the bar-tacking could rip.

I've found the first three sizes to be of quite a bit of use at Joshua Tree.


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By Alan Searcy
From Pine, Colorado
Apr 5, 2009
Storm's comin, we keep climbin.  Wasted all the good weather on our rest days.  Hut Tower, Ruth Gorge

Used em and they don't inspire me on lead. Placed a red one in granite and plugged a #1 RP about a foot above it, both were in marginal placements. Fell and ripped the RP and the lowe ball then kissed the ledge 15' below. The lowe ball actually hyper extended and the ball ripped clean off. I'm still an RP fan(#2 or bigger) but loweballs, not so much. Decent aid pieces.


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By Greg Barnes
Apr 6, 2009
Hanging out with Karin on the summit of Warlock Needle. Photo by Josh Janes.

Heh heh heh...nothing that size will inspire you! (OK,OK, a long knifeblade freshly driven).

A friend took a 40 footer on El Cap onto the smallest lowe ball, and it held. Welded permanently (or until the next winter freeze/thaw cycles...), but so would a nut.

I use them all the time on FAs, they can keep you from needing to pull out the pins in parallel small cracks. The red (second from smallest) is my favorite size. They are very nice in horizontal parallel thin cracks - such as you find at Red Rocks fairly often (and as I found on the 3rd pitch of a new route on granite - two side-by-side red Lowe balls then a runout).

Never had much luck with them in slick Valley pinscars on free climbs. I usually don't bring them unless I'm bringing the micronuts - but if you want tiny pro you want it all, and they don't weigh much.


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