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Ball nuts


Original Post
Nick Haha · · Baltimore, md · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 115

What are you thoughts of using ball nuts, are they necessary when you have a rack of nuts and peanuts?  How many people use them and found them useful when climbing?

greggrylls · · Salt Lake City · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 152

Lots of threads on this there was a fairly recent one the search isn’t pulling up.  Here is a old thread. 

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/106320338/camp-ballnuts-lowe-balls-love-em-hate-em-worthless-priceless


Basically, they’re really awesome for thin cracks which cams can’t protect.  Can be a bitch to place and clean yadayadayada  Unless you’re climbing in an area with dead parallel thin cracks probably not needed. 

  They are a specialty piece.  I’d get micro nuts before these 100 percent.      You’ll get some folks raving about them like tricams but, similarly, they are probably climbing in an area that caters to them.  I’ve carried them before and I know people who I climb with will add them to their rack if it’s in the gear beta but you’ll place them maybe 1/20 times on “normal” routes.  

But normal for me is little cottonwood and the desert I’m not climbing hard enough or in areas to need anything that small.  





John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

Generally theyre most useful for hard trad climbing- basically 5.11 and up. There's the odd 5.10 out there where they're nice to have, but they're rare-ish.

If you're pushing the grades, I'd consider them mandatory gear for sure.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487

They're definitely specialty gear for cracks that are too thin and parallel or too shallow to accept small cams or micronuts. However, when you need them, you really need them and are screwed without them. I would hold off on getting them, though, unless you already have a double rack, nuts, offset nuts, micro nuts, and still want more gear or unless they're really cheap. The original lowe ones are better than the CAMP or trango ones.

I carry mine on most routes (because they're so light I'd rather just bring them) but they rarely get placed. Worth carrying if you have them, but probably not worth buying for your typical budding trad leader. 


David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122
eli poss wrote:

The original lowe ones are better than the CAMP or trango ones.

Are these still sold anywhere?

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122

Another relevant thread: mountainproject.com/forum/t…

Marc H · · Longmont, CO · Joined May 2007 · Points: 250

tricsms




Is that the great feeling you get after sinking a bomber tricam?

Alex Kowalcyk · · La Conner, WA · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 65

I used to carry the #2 (red) when climbing in the Gunks. The #1 seemed way too small to trust for free climbing and the #3 seemed redundant with micro-cams.

George Bracksieck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 1,420
John Wilder wrote:

Generally theyre most useful for hard trad climbing- basically 5.11 and up. There's the odd 5.10 out there where they're nice to have, but they're rare-ish.

If you're pushing the grades, I'd consider them mandatory gear for sure.

What does route difficulty have to do with the presence of a placement for a Ball Nut? I've placed those on easy routes where nothing else could be placed, except perhaps a piton. As Eli says, when you need one, you need it. 

Btw the original Ball Nuts were invented by Steve Byrne, who also invented the TCU. He sold his design to Lowe Alpine Systems, which changed the geometry of the sliding surface (and the name to Lowe Balls).  CAMP manufactured those for LAS.  


John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
George Bracksieck wrote:

What does route difficulty have to do with the presence of a placement for a Ball Nut? I've placed those on easy routes where nothing else could be placed, except perhaps a piton. As Eli says, when you need one, you need it. 

Btw the original Ball Nuts were invented by Steve Byrne, who also invented the TCU. He sold his design to Lowe Alpine Systems, which changed the geometry of the sliding surface (and the name to Lowe Balls).  CAMP manufactured those for LAS.  


Well, I mean, sure, there are rare exceptions here and there, but generally, the harder the climb, the thinner the pro (or really wide). Super thin cracks where the only option for pro is a ball nut is generally going to be pretty tough. I've been climbing a long time and I've used ball nuts on a decent number of climbs, but never on something less than 5.10 and I can't recall ever wishing I had one, either. Thats not to say those climbs aren't out there, but I'd wager they're in a very tiny minority.

George Bracksieck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 1,420
John Wilder wrote:

Well, I mean, sure, there are rare exceptions here and there, but generally, the harder the climb, the thinner the pro (or really wide). Super thin cracks where the only option for pro is a ball nut is generally going to be pretty tough. I've been climbing a long time and I've used ball nuts on a decent number of climbs, but never on something less than 5.10 and I can't recall ever wishing I had one, either. Thats not to say those climbs aren't out there, but I'd wager they're in a very tiny minority.

I have found lots of exceptions. I've tamed R- and X-rated routes with Ball Nutz and Tricams. Most people may not consider protection to be possible because they aren't familiar with those gadgets, or don't want to bother adding those to their racks. . 

zoso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2007 · Points: 465

I've found them indispensable on older, odd, and less traveled routes.  They'll often fit where there's supposed to be a pin but it's missing.  

George Bracksieck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 1,420

I have all three sizes of Steve Byrne's Ball Nutz. He produced those after he left Metolius and founded Wired Bliss. His design is the best. I think LAS tweeked it to be cheaper to mass-produce. The CAMP/TRANGO design out there today is the same as LAS's. CAMP makes gear for Trango now. 

Kalil Oldham · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 55
George Bracksieck wrote:

I have found lots of exceptions. I've tamed R- and X-rated routes with Ball Nutz and Tricams. Most people may not consider protection to be possible because they aren't familiar with those gadgets, or don't want to bother adding those to their racks. . 

Which R and X routes? 

Tim Stich · · Colorado Springs, Colorado · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 1,476
zoso wrote:

I've found them indispensable on older, odd, and less traveled routes.  They'll often fit where there's supposed to be a pin but it's missing.  

That's what I found them useful for as well, although I never fell on such placements so I have no idea if they were worth anything. Psychological pro.

George Bracksieck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 1,420
Tim Stich wrote:

That's what I found them useful for as well, although I never fell on such placements so I have no idea if they were worth anything. Psychological pro.

I've fallen on well-placed Ball Nutz and their successors. They were harder to remove afterward, but I was grateful nonetheless. Like any gadgets, they have limits regarding what they, or the rock in which they are placed, can handle.  

Edit:  You should set them hard, so the rope doesn't lift/rotate them out of their placements. 

Eli · · GMC3500 · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 3,024

I aided a thin crack with them recently and my friend said it was like watching a ballnuts commercial.
I didn't believe before, but I do now.
They work well.

A C · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 115

they are really nice for eldo and some aid. In general, they fit in places where most small cams won't and if you get at using them, they are super solid. The smallest camp ball nut (blue) is rated to 7KN, more than most c3s and by far smaller than even the 000 c3. They do have a reputation of becoming fixed if you whip on them, but i have also seen them come out easily after a fall. 

George Bracksieck · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 1,420
Kalil Oldham wrote:

Which R and X routes. 


The first time I used them was onsighting Aerial Book (11a), in Eldorado. The first pitch was rated R after the pins disappeared. Other routes are more obscure, such as Horse Trough (5.8++), near Durango. It's not rated R in the guidebook, but you could break your ankles before you can place a good nut. I'll have to get hypnotized, to recall others through the decades. 

Edit:  What's with the italics?^^^^^^^^

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 487
George Bracksieck wrote:


Edit:  What's with the italics?^^^^^^^^

Yep I've also used them on horse trough as well as on an old Jim Beyer route up on Animas Mountain. Since you seem pretty well versed in the history, I have a question out of curiosity. I have the two smallest ball nutz, yellow and red and the yellow is stamped Lowe/Byrne and the red is stamped Lowe. Were Lowe and Byrne ever producing these together or was it just Byrne and then just Lowe?

The yellow one seems to have a slightly different shaped indention in the paddle, more rounded than the red. Could just be because of the size difference but after reading what you wrote earlier I wonder if the yellow was manufactured with a slightly different design than the red.  

Kalil Oldham · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 55
George Bracksieck wrote:


Edit:  What's with the italics?^^^^^^^^

Thanks for the examples

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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