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The Balconies
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Brosseau Finish, The T 
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Gold Line T 
Inn Crowd, The T 
Lava Falls T 
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Premeditated T 
Shake-N-Bake T 

Lava Falls 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a R

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 250'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a R [details]
FA: Holmgren, Matthews, Vandevere, 1982
Page Views: 4,628
Submitted By: Jon Hanlon on Sep 26, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (28)
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BETA PHOTO: Lava & Shake

Current Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


Two magnificent pitches of wild stemming up a spooky black groove on the Balconies. Pitch one involves steep knob climbing between sometimes sparsely-placed bolts. An occasional knob can be tied off, but the steep crux comes between a gap in protection opportunities.

Pitch 2 requires more hip-cramping stemming up the water-hardened chute. This pitch is not to be missed.

At the time of this writing, not all bolts are inspiring, and some loose rock is present.


Lava Falls can be found in the middle of the Balconies. The route starts in a stand of trees just uphill from the Smiling Simian. Follow the black gully that pinches off at the top.


Quickdraws and full length runners for tying off knobs and clipping wandering bolts. Bolted anchors on both pitches.

Photos of Lava Falls Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Balconies as seen from top of Machete.
BETA PHOTO: Balconies as seen from top of Machete.
Rock Climbing Photo: Note that the mid-point anchor on Lava Falls is lo...
Note that the mid-point anchor on Lava Falls is lo...
Rock Climbing Photo: A view up the route from the bottom of the first p...
BETA PHOTO: A view up the route from the bottom of the first p...
Rock Climbing Photo: Stemmin' up pitch 2.
Stemmin' up pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ladies and Gentlemen...Lava Falls.
Ladies and Gentlemen...Lava Falls.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tim S. coming up toward the top of P1.
Tim S. coming up toward the top of P1.

Comments on Lava Falls Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Nov 14, 2015
By Tony L
Feb 1, 2016

This route (and almost all Balconies routes) are closed mid Jan until June/July for raptor nesting.
By Kyle Queener
From: Monterey, California
Jan 30, 2009

Re-bolted in January 2009. Expect "bomber" bolts.
By Julie Silvestro
From: Phoenix, AZ
Nov 8, 2009

Bring TWO ropes...
By aaron hope
From: Walnut Creek, CA
Aug 28, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

Well protected. Except for the crux.
By Colin Simon
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 5, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

This was my first lead ever, in April 2008.

I was terrified. I had done a bunch of gym climbing but only toproped outside about 5 times.

This route still feels special, and defined me as a climber.
By Owen McGrath
Jan 16, 2011

Just climbed the first pitch today. Didn't make the second as we were benighted.

Bolts are really solid, except at the crux, place extra slings on nobs or be ready for a decent whipper.

All told, an amazing climb. Great stemming route, and an even more epic view.

Was my first time to Pinnacles. Can't wait to get back.

Also, anyone have beta for those wanting to camp and climb only on the West Side? Is it cool to leave a car overnight and trek to campground on the east side? Anyone tried to ask some of the ranches on the way in if it would be cool to pitch a tent for a night's sleep?
By beachplus4
From: So San Francisco
Jan 16, 2011

I was told no cars over night on the west side by Ranger Mark. Camping on th east is so easy and its a short hike to any of the climbs on the west.
By kovarpa
Jan 17, 2011

You can rap off with a 70m rope if you are willing to downclimb the last approx. 10 feet to the ground.
By Matthias Gottmann
Nov 11, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

Found (by missing the middle belay station) that the two pitches can be combined with a 70m rope. Distances between bolts are substantial, but I felt that the hardest moves were well protected.
By Simon W
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 7, 2014

Really fun route, but I wouldn't recommend it for the new 5.9 leader.

Most of the bolts are in good shape, but in most spots you wouldn't really want to use them. (Due to big air potential and rock that isn't quite steep enough.)

I counted bolts and still almost climbed past the first belay. Look for a manky old SMC hanger out right when you're at the 10th bolt or so and you should notice the chains just outside of the chute.
By Joe Forrester
From: Palo Alto
Apr 7, 2014

Great line and an exciting amount of distance between bolts. You can rap with a 70m in 3 raps, but you have to be willing to equalize bolts 2+3 on the first pitch, then climb back up and get your stuff. A whip at the crux would be exciting.
By Kyle Queener
From: Monterey, California
Sep 17, 2014

I've done this route approximately ten times now and still ALWAYS find it exciting and fun. One of the nicest ways to climb it is to follow the first pitch and continue on leading the second pitch. Since the belay at the top of the first is off to the right you can just keep climbing without ever stopping at the belay stance. Just continue on up and do the whole thing in one nice continuous climb.

I also believe this route is definitely climbable even on the hottest days if you wait for the wall to go into the shade very late in the day.
By Chuck Carlson
Nov 14, 2015

A single 60m rope rappel from the top of the 2nd pitch to the top of the 1st pitch leaves very little rope left, so beware and tie knots. This is usually not done because you have 2 ropes, but we had a 70m and a 60m in a party of three. While two of us rapped the fixed 70m to the ground, the third set up the 60m to go to the mid point anchors.

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