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Small Cams Vs. Lowe Balls
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winkwinklambonini


Nov 7, 2002, 1:53 PM
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Small Cams Vs. Lowe Balls
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       I think this is the best place to ask this question. I am wondering if anyone has any opinions about using Loweballs in place of smaller cams for trad. As it stands now my smallest cam is a blue alien, but I want more small active gear.
It seems to me that as cams get smaller, they not only get weaker, they get kind of picky. What I mean is that it's even more important to not undercam them, and it can be hard to inspect each lobe in tiny cracks. I'll go ahead and research the official ratings for both later, but what is your experience with:

1 ease of placement

2 versitility

3 catchability

of both?


wigglestick


Nov 7, 2002, 2:22 PM
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Comparing small cams to loweballs is an apples and oranges type of comparison. Loweballs fit it much shallower placements than cams. Small cams fit better in other placements. The real question is which do you like better small nuts or loweballs? Because both of these types of pro fit in similar situations. But to answer your question: If the placement is deep enough to accept a small cam I will opt for the small cam everytime over anything else. Lowballs are like tricams in which they each seem to fit in esoteric placements where nothing else works. Loweballs also seem to get fixed pretty easily if you fall on them. They kind of freak me out. Everytime I place one I am perplexed as to what kind of voodoo magic is holding the piece in the rock.


winkwinklambonini


Nov 7, 2002, 3:01 PM
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I can see what you mean about fixing the piece, but it seems to me that there must be a point it you go smaller where a loweball would be more secure than a small cam, even in a perfect parallell crack.


climber_andy


Nov 7, 2002, 3:03 PM
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I haven't used the lowe balls yet, but like wink, I've been contemplating the same thing. Small cams kind of freak me out, although I've definitely seen places they're they only thing that will really go, and would use them there. Of course, I really like tricams, so that may say something...


bigwalling


Nov 7, 2002, 4:31 PM
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I had planned on getting some Ball nuts but from what the Dr. told me they don't sound great. I think I'll stick with aleins.


grippedclimber


Nov 7, 2002, 7:19 PM
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If I can get a cam I would definately take that over a ball nut. I have found ball nuts to be usefull on a few occasions in Zion where really nothing else would fit. They can be really hard to clean and I don't recomend more than one or two of the smallest sizes, but I do like em for sandstone sometimes, sorta get my drift?


flamer


Nov 8, 2002, 3:28 PM
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Lowe Balls defiantly have their place. That being said, no other piece has blown on me more(while aid climbing)than Lowe balls. They are especially suspect in roofs due to rotational forces from even the slightest swinging(which is unavoidable). The only time I use them is when nothing else would work and I only carry them for aid climbing!


passthepitonspete


Nov 8, 2002, 4:55 PM
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Gads, I hate 'em both!

Lowe Balls have a nasty way of pulling, not to mention fixing. I think I clipped five of those things in a row on the Nine O'Clock Roof of Zed-Em last year.

I find my little black Alien to be too small much of the time [though]blue/black hybrid is quite useful] so I can only imagine how much worse those little micro-Friends must be!

I asked the guys in the Mountain Shop what the take was on them, and they said they were great - for getting fixed.

Pass the Lost Arrows, please!


tanner


Nov 8, 2002, 5:25 PM
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use a bolt kit!!


gunked


Nov 8, 2002, 5:57 PM
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Lowe-balls are a last resort only!!! They suck until you need one and then, they're not that much better. Just a bit. Almost enought to feel good about the placement, but not quite.

Jason


Partner phylp


Nov 8, 2002, 6:36 PM
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You ask about Loweballs use in free climbing. I'll go contrary to what seems to be the majority opinion and say I love mine. Mostly I've placed then in granite thin cracks. I have taken lead falls on them and they've never pulled, and they've never popped when the second has taken falls just below them. When I first bought them I had partners shudder when they saw them on my rack, and make those comments about pulling, but I've never experienced it personally. That said, I don't fall that much so I've not had a statistically significant sample I suppose. Perhaps my turn is next!


Partner philbox
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Nov 10, 2002, 1:33 PM
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   I`ve said it before, I love my Lowe Ball Nuts. Once set these things will just keep on keeping on. Yeah I had one pull on me once but it way my fault as I had not placed it well.

The very smallest ballnut has taken such a pounding from numerous falls on it that it is almost due for retirement.

When I go aiding I always leave space for my ballnuts. But then I try to go clean aid where ever I can and these tricky pro pieces help me to achieve that.

I can tell you that in my experience the key to ballnuts is the setting of them. You almost have to funk them to set them correctly. For removal simply twist them away from the direction of set and then release the trigger and hey presto. You may actually have to use a bit of funking as you twist the ballnut in its placement to facilitate removal. I have not lost one ballnut yet.

I would not recommend their use on soft rock though.

...Phil...


winkwinklambonini


Nov 10, 2002, 5:53 PM
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Sounds like they are too hard to set correctly and clean while free, if you have to really yard on them.


Partner philbox
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Nov 10, 2002, 10:36 PM
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   Nah not really I was just overdramatising how to set them. Once set they`ll just keep on keeping on. I`m not here to argue for their general use on every aid or trad climbers rack but truely they can be an invaluable tool when used in the right sort of crack.

Check this pic out for a ballnut which held just fine in a very flaring groove.


Grant my sometime climbing buddy has used ballnuts extensively to trad climb an OZ grade 27 free route. Pretty darn tough free climbing.


brutusofwyde


Nov 17, 2002, 10:48 AM
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I've worn out and retired 2 sets of ball nutz so far. Use them a lot on aid routes. One of the pitches on Muir wall last year was almost entirely leapfrogging #2 - #4 lowe balls. Alien Hybrids have their place as well as straight aliens down to black. My disclaimer is that I don't have a set of cams smaller than Black aliens at this time.

For free routes, the Balls also have their place, although they are a specialized tool to be sure. Left only one ball nut fixed so far, a #3, on Windhorse, Lone Pine Peak California.

Brutus


punk


Nov 17, 2002, 11:13 AM
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I use and like them both it is just another gadgets that make life in climbing a little more convenient and straight forward but I wont go lower then CCH ⅓ or WC Z3 for clean seam placements the loweballs rock it is also great piece for trad climbing too (much stronger then the Z2 and Z1)


copperhead


Nov 25, 2002, 9:47 PM
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Ball nuts can work like nothing else in desparate aid situations. They can be key for thin expando but might shift and make 'popping' noises, though hold well enough to get you through. Don't leave home without 'em.


bigdan


Dec 2, 2002, 2:07 PM
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Yeah, there's almost no point in comparing them. Both are necessary for certain placements. Aliens are easier to set, so I guess if I had the choice, I'd pop in an Alien, especially if I were on a free route.

I hadn't used Loweballs much until pretty recently. I have found them to be very useful in Eldorado Canyon, where sneaky Loweball placements routinely sew up the cruxes of .10 and .11 runouts.

Also, I was in the Fishers with Andrew Gram and Brian Shelton this past weekend. Who would have thought Loweballs would be so useful in that stuff? The first pitch of Sundevil Chimney took like 7 or 8 Loweball placements, and they were the only thing that would fit well in some of those flares. It would have been much harder to do that pitch clean without them.

God Bless Loweballs!!!


atg200


Dec 2, 2002, 2:21 PM
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Those were some scary Lowe Balls I placed in the Fishers, but I don't see how I could have done that pitch on the Sundevil hammerless without them. Consider them mandatory if you are doing hard clean aid(which you should - only wankers hammer when you can be climbing clean).

Wouldn't bother with them unless you are doing hard clean aid or hard poorly protected free climbing though.

Andrew - proud owner of 2 sets of Ballnuts.


yosemite


Dec 8, 2002, 10:24 PM
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My experience with Aliens (particularly the small hybrids) versus Lowe Balls: Prefer the Aliens. But when they get to be sketchy or impossible, grab the Lowe Balls. Then say a prayer. Sometimes that is all it takes. CuHd is right: Dont leave home without them. But if you need them, maybe you should think twice before leaving home.


skywalker


Dec 8, 2002, 11:20 PM
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I understand your delemma well. For me, if the fissure or crack is deep and parallel I go with the cam. When I encounter a placement that can accept a tiny nut (a constriction of sorts), but the direction of forces may not keep the placement stable, I go with the lowe ball. I suppose one can use the cam like a nut but it is hard to see all the lobes. I guess I think of a lowe ball as an active nut that will hold the piece in place if the direction of pull isn't ideal. I focus first on using it as a nut then allow the slider to hold it in place. It's always a 'crap shoot' with these if you really need them. They are essoteric in many ways. Think of them as an 'active' nut and its use may become more clear. I used one as the crux move on a route in the Fisher's where I had to pendulum off it and it it really saved my ass. I have no idea what else could have worked. I hope this helps! Cheers!


andyk


Dec 9, 2002, 4:09 AM
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I find that for aid, rather then protection, Leeper hooks (alu fragile, wide, standred and micro) work way better, espiecally on expando. I've got a set but have never placed one yet on ten hardish El Cap routes.

Andy K


bigdan


Dec 9, 2002, 12:08 PM
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i agree with you on the cam hooks, for granite. but for anything less than perfect sandstone, cam hooks tend to just tear up the rock. sandstone is where loweballs come in really handy!


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