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Question of Balance 

YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c PG13

   
Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 600', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Paul Horak, Mark Dalen, Glen Banks and David Baltz, 1977
Page Views: 6,000
Submitted By: David Baltz on Jun 17, 2007

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Following the stellar crack of pitch 2. This crack...

Description 

Pitch 1: Begin below a short, curving half-moon flake about 20 feet off the ground. Climb up to the flake and then veer a little left across a slab, up, then left again across another steep slab below a flake. Hand traverse back right across the flake and into a corner with a pin under a small roof. Pull over the roof (5.11-) to a thin hands crack then go straight up steep rock past a bolt to a chain anchor. There are various harder variations to this first pitch, as noted in 'Taos Rock' and in comments below.

Pitch 2: Climb straight up the thin crack past a pin and where the crack dies out, make some thin face moves straight up to some seams heading left. Move left following the seams to the prominent diagonalling crack seen from the ground. Follow the flaring finger and hand crack another 80 feet to the bolted belay. (5.10-).

Pitch 3: Drop down and right traversing along a small dike to its end. Delicate friction moves lead up to a thin crack/flake, followed by more friction up and right to a second flake/crack system. Follow the crack and then make a hard move past a 1/4" bolt and up to another dike below the roof system extending across the top of the face. Clip another 1/4" bolt and then traverse left 30 feet under the roof system to a belay below an overhang with a thin crack running through it. (5.10).

Pitch 4: Step a little left to a huge pocket, go straight up over the roof following a crack to where it becomes a seam (5.10+). Climb up the runout seam to awesome chickenheads to a belay at tree (180 feet). An alternate finish traverses 20 feet down and right before the crack becomes a seam and follows a lower crack to the chickenheads (not as runout). There is also a bolted 5.10 slab finish directly up and left, after you turn the roof.

Pitch 5: Climb easy rock on great chickenheads aiming for the tall pines on the summit of the rock.

Descent: From very near the summit, go right (east) following a faint trail to a gully. Pass above the gully and continue around the next outcropping to an easy tree-covered descent on a now obvious switchback trail. After descending several hundred feet, the trail enters a dry streambed and becomes faint. Bear right and traverse the slope back toward the main dome before dropping again to the base of the climbs.

This climb was originally called A Questa of Balance.

Protection 

Standard rack up to blue camalots. Bring doubles on gray and green camalots.


Photos of Question of Balance Slideshow Add Photo
Bill Geist in the middle of the sideways no-hands traverse of pitch 3. Exciting! August 2007.
Bill Geist in the middle of the sideways no-hands ...
Bill traversing back left at the top of pitch 3 on cool dike features.
Bill traversing back left at the top of pitch 3 on...
Right in the middle of the 3rd pitch before making the 30 foot traverse back to the left.
Right in the middle of the 3rd pitch before making...
Wyatt follows the spectacular crack of pitch 2!
Wyatt follows the spectacular crack of pitch 2!
Working the crack above the 5.11 crux on the first pitch of "Question of Balance". August 2007.
Working the crack above the 5.11 crux on the first...
Josh Smith on the third pitch of Question of Balance.
Josh Smith on the third pitch of Question of Balan...
Getting ready to pull the roof that starts the fourth pitch. Strenuous but very juggy holds above along with a great finger crack make it possible. August 2007.
Getting ready to pull the roof that starts the fou...

Comments on Question of Balance Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 15, 2014
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 26, 2007
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13

A wonderful route. I can recall experiencing rock and solitude like this on Charlotte Dome in California. A great mix of everything and the 5.11 crux is well-protected and done early in the route.

Bob D's rack recommendation here is great although we added a second small blue and purple camalot. Nice.
By Luke Hanley
From: Boulder, CO
Jan 16, 2008

One of the best in the state. If you go to New Mexico, this route should not be missed.
By Karl Kiser
Apr 2, 2008

I believe it is Dave Baltz. FA done in 1977.
By George Perkins
From: Los Alamos, NM
Apr 11, 2008
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13

Great climbing on some of the cleanest rock in New Mexico.
This climb goes at 5.10+ A0, as the 5.11 crux on the 1st pitch is short, and can easily be aided by pulling on the fixed pins. There is mandatory 5.10 slab in a few places on pitches 1&3.

Alternate Start: An alternate harder start to this climb begins just to the right of the traditional start. It joins the rest of QoB at the first belay; it's 5.11 with new bolts and fun, thin climbing. Greg Swift and Sharon Dogruel first did the upper section traversing over from QoB's normal pitch one (noted as Var. #1 in 'Taos Rock'); Josh Smith added the direct independent start later. Bring extra #0 TCUs.

Alternate Finish: The Questa Direct roof variation to pitch 4 (5.11, FA: Rick Smith) is right of the normal route. From the upper part of pitch 3, continue straight up to a 2-bolt anchor. Turn the pumpy roof, passing 2 fixed nuts, and belay as soon as you can after that. This variation is recommended, if you're up for it. This variation is called "Oops" in the 'Taos Rock'. The old 'RC:NM & Texas' guidebook erroneously showed the normal QoB passing through this notch, so people sometimes mistakenly went this way.
By Stu Ritchie
From: Denver
Sep 15, 2008

Super route! 1/4 inch bolts are not an issue on this route. We carried a 3 and 4 Camalot, but felt they were not mandatory. Only 4 hours from Denver!
By Daniel Trugman
From: Los Alamos, NM / Stanford, CA
Jun 28, 2009
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c PG13

Beautiful route that lives up to its reputation of being one of the best in the state.

The MP route description is excellent but is missing pitch-by-pitch ratings. My opinion [edited, after climbing it a second time]:

P1: 11- (or 5.10 A0).
P2: 5.9/10a
P3: 10c (PG? PG-13? Hard moves over thin gear, but it will hold.)
P4: 10c through the roof (great pro), then there are a few variations:
---10a bolted variation goes straight up (PG-13? R? 3 good bolts in over 100 feet. You do the math.).
---5.10? following the crack/seam (I haven't done this).
---5.6/5.7 PG-13 goes hard right after the roof.

All pitches are stellar.
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jun 28, 2009
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13

To add to Daniel's comment, we belayed from a tree at the top of the groove above the bolted 5.10a variation finish of P4. From there it was still another rope length (or more) to the summit but it's easy and way less exposed so we coiled the ropes and scrambled to the summit.

This 5.10a slab variation was very nice and I'd recommend it over the the more standard finish to the right. It is definitely run out (3 bolts in 60 meters not feet!--Thanks Marc) but the bolts are where you need them.
By Tom Rangitsch
From: Lander, WY
Jun 14, 2010

Great route, highly recommended. The traverses on pitch 3 are super cool, thoughtful, but not too scary. Definitely the best multipitch I have done in New Mexico.
By Slade
From: Gunnison
Nov 8, 2010

I loved this route and couldn't believe how good the weather was on November 6 2010. 65 degrees and barely any wind. There was tremendous rope drag on P1.
By Bob Graham
Sep 24, 2012

Great route, a lot of friction and a good mix of other climbing styles make it a full on adventure.
By George Perkins
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jun 15, 2014
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13

The 1st bolt on p3 was replaced and is new. Thanks. The 2nd is still old, but unlikely to be fallen on hard.

There is not a bolt on the "normal way" for p1 (as described above). The fixed gear on this pitch, if done the normal way, is: 3 pins just before and turning the crux bulge/roof, then another fixed pin just before the belay.

It is apparently possible to roll over left to a bolt then face climb up (rather than turning the crux bulge). This is the "original 1st pitch", shown on the original topo and mentioned in "Rock Climbing: New Mexico & Texas". Look to go left after clipping the 2nd or 3rd pin or possibly lower. I haven't tried it, but I think I remember seeing a bolt over there. This may be the reason the description seems slightly off.