|Lotta Balls Wall
This is a surprisingly good route that goes up a subtle line on the buttress to the left of Kick in the Balls. Because it starts at the base of the buttress, it is longer: about six pitches. The key feature is an aesthetic, left-facing, curvy corner with an alarmingly perched block halfway up.
Start at an easy slab directly below this corner, and climb to a good ledge with a large bush on it. You could probably bypass this pitch with scrambling around to the left, but the climbing here provides a pleasant warmup. Pitch 2 goes up the clean corner above. Use care when passing the perched block. We were all too timid to touch it, so it might be more secure than it looks; however, the costs of being wrong about this are likely to be extreme. Above the block, continue up the corner on perfect hand jams, and belay at a semi-hanging stance when the crack ends (small, finger-size cams). Pitch 3 continues up the improbable face with surprisingly adequate protection in intermittent cracks (more finger-size cams and wires).
Pitch 4 follows easier cracks to a smooth, flared chimney. An odd exit move to the right allows you to avoid the ominous convergence at the top of the chimney. Continue up the water-polished rock to a belay alcove just right of a not-quite-thriving bush. The next pitch starts by climbing back into the crack and going up the smooth, left-arching chimney above the bush. When the arch ends, climb the long, right-facing dihedral, which begins as a hand crack but soon widens to offwidth size. If you have wisely retained a large cam, this upper crack can even be protected. The sixth pitch starts with a few fifth-class moves, but the climbing quickly becomes easier as the angle leans back and the rock becomes more broken. Another hundred or two feet of fourth class take you to the top of the buttress. This is also the spot where Kick in the Balls tops out.
Descent: The obvious descent is to rappel into the gully immediately west of the buttress. Two or three rappels (they can be done with one 60-meter rope) bring you to easy ground. This is a gully you will have visited as part of the approach if you have climbed Kick in the Balls. Scramble down for 50 or so yards until you can exit to skier's left (west), and downclimb easy rock to the notch at the top of the Lotta Balls Wall. Be aware that the last moves to the notch are a traverse straight west on frictiony ledges and NOT down the steep dropoff.
I vaguely recall having descended to the east from the top of buttress, but my mostly suppressed memories seem to center on a frighteningly loose chimney that I have minimal interest in re-engaging. If you go that way, it becomes more civilized once you reach the wide slabby area. This is descended with some downclimbing and a rappel or two.
Standard rack to number 4 (or bigger cam); extra cams in the finger sizes.
From: Decatur, GA
Apr 7, 2008
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
What a great experience being on the FA! Watching Larry lead the crux P3 was inspiring. P2 is particularly aesthetic and fun climbing, nice lead by Michael on that pitch. Lots of fun from start to finish!
|By Craig Martin|
From: Park City
Oct 16, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Climbed this route the other day before the big rain. We really enjoyed the route, easily as good as most of the routes on the Lotta Balls wall, IMO.
The descent was a little confusing. The 1st rappel off of Kick in the Balls (3 fixed nuts) is short and traverses to climbers right to a small tree that is easy to miss. The exposed scrambling to get to Lotta Balls descent was also pretty exciting.
|By Doug Hemken|
Apr 2, 2013
Great route! Pitches 2 & 3 are stunning, and the rest was very nice as well!
We pulled down (but not out) on the block.
From: Oak Park, CA
May 7, 2013
Excellent route, with many stretches of amazing climbing and exposure.
We skipped the intended P1 belay on the bushy ledge at the base of the first dihedral. That ledge looked overgrown. Instead continued halfway up that first dihedral to belay in a notch just below the perched block, to fully enjoy looking up at that perched dodgeball, for a ~200 ft first pitch. Our P2 went up past the perched block, onto the long stretch of splitter hands, then up the improbable face, setting P2 anchor at the start of a flaring crack. Had enough rope and could've gone higher, but didn't initially see (or think of) the wild and exposed step across left onto a protruding arete pillar that could've led up to a more comfortable ledge. Our P3 followed the mentioned exposed step across left, which led higher to a blocky ledge with another exposed highstep across back right. Did not climb back into the left-veering lichen-covered wide crack, but instead did another exposed step across left yet again (what's another after two wild steps across already), onto juggy arete and up, belaying at a convenient horizontal, for a ~210 ft third pitch. Our P4 went up the long stretch of traveled but still lichen-covered face above. Good holds, but abundant lichen. Stretched our 70 for a 215 ft pitch to reach the finish of the Dodgeball route, onto a huge reddish blocky ledge. Stepped to climber's right past a giant cubic boulder and went up the finish of adjacent Kick In The Balls that led ~125 ft up to the top of the buttress, for our finishing P5, to find a rap tree hidden just behind and below the summit, which looked down the wide descent gully to the west. Easy downclimb to get to that rap tree.
That 1st rap is a 200 ft drop down the right side of the gully (skier's right), leading to the next rap tree anchor with a long rectangular block sitting on the narrow ledge next to the tree. Another nearby tree anchor (which we didn't use) could be seen a little below and more toward the middle of the gully; not sure if reachable by our 70; possibly there just for a short rap to get more toward the center of the gully. Our 2nd rap from the tree anchor with the long loose-sitting rectangular block took us ~150 ft down and across to another rap tree on the other side of the gully (skier's left). After our 3rd rap from that (~160 ft), we scrambled down a faint trail that switchbacked first to the right side (skier's right) of the gully and then back to skier's left, then hugging that left side down to a scoot-n-downclimb of a squeeze chimney section, down to the somewhat exposed traverse to skier's left around a ledgy bulge to arrive at the first rap tree for the Lotta Balls descent. Btw, if familiar with the Lotta Balls topout, that wide shoulder terrace with stacked boulder blocks could be seen along the upper pitches and along the raps down.
|By Tom Fralich|
From: Fort Collins, CO
Mar 28, 2014
This route has some great climbing, especially on pitches 2-4. I thought the face on pitch 3 was pretty bold. There's gear right off the belay and some more when it starts getting thin, but after a decent runout.
|By Larry Graham|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 18, 2014
We climbed this route on Apr 16, 2014. Here are a few comments that we think potential climbers might want to consider.
The first pitch is an easy but good warm-up for what is to follow. The second and third pitches (as we did them) were superb. I was leading and stopped where the hand crack/layback flake ended. There was a decent stance although it was a bit hanging as well. This would be 15 feet or so below where the description above has it. Then the third pitch is all in one character: wall with small cracks and creative pro possibilities. The second pitch is all of one type too: dihedral cracks, stemming lay backing or straight in jamming. I ended the third pitch (about 175 feet) by stepping easily to left onto a pillar of whitish rock and finished up that about 30 feet to a perfect belay alcove. I can't imagine belaying anywhere else. It was perfect. From there is the short move or two right as shown on the topo picture.
The upper pitches were much as described: up to the right of a bush, then up the curving crack, and up an exit pitch to easy ground. This is still well below the real summit of the formation. There was a fair size cairn at the final belay and from there it was an easy stroll straight west to the new rap anchor atop Kick in the Balls. We had two 60 m ropes and just had enough to get to scramble down territory in one long rap. We didn't see any intermediate rap stations.
For sure, these upper pitches were 1 star at best while the 2nd and 3rd were 4 or 5 stars. If some way were set up to rap just these pitches this would become a classic, possibly rivaling Lotta Balls for a stellar moderate climb.
|By Larry DeAngelo|
From: Las Vegas, NV
Apr 18, 2014
A note on the rating. . . Some people have said this was harder than 5.7. I recently climbed it again and can offer the observation that this difference might be height-dependent. At a point or two I found myself stretching for hold and glad I had the reach. Anyway, if you're not tall, the 5.8 rating may be more appropriate.