Type: Trad, 1000 ft (303 m), 12 pitches, Grade IV
FA: K. Wheeler, G. Lomme, & S. Miller
Page Views: 2,880 total · 13/month
Shared By: Joe Collins on Oct 10, 2003
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


Debutante's Ball is a discontinuous, yet good, route on the buttress immediately to the left of Comic Relief Buttress. This is probably a 1 star route anywhere else, but it gets an extra star for that special "ambiance" that you can only find in the Black. The route looks stout on paper, but the cruxes are generally short and the climbing goes fairly quickly. A party competent at the grade should expect this to go quicker then say, the Scenic Cruise. It's generally a mixed bag of good climbing and broken sections, with pitches 4 and 5, in particular, being real winners. Expect some of the usual Black Canyon funk and spiciness.

Approach via the SOB gully. Many parties will find that locating the start of the climb is the true crux. The guidebook is useful for this, but it shouldn't be taken too literally. The second pitch "5.8 splitter" mentioned in the guide as a feature to shoot for, is more of a thin broken crack which isn't obvious from the ground. This was fairly misleading beta for us, since the most obvious splitter on the low part of the buttress belongs to Debutante's Debacle. It is interesting to note that the first ascent of the Debacle was mistakenly climbed as the start to Debutante's Ball .

Pitches 1-3: Once you've found the start, follow inobvious features for 2 pitches up towards a right-facing dihedral system. There is a section of low-end 5.10 (twin thin cracks) right off the ground. Pitch 3 gains the dihedral system and follows it to a belay below a roof.

P4 (5.10): Pull around the roof. Continue up and left to exciting slab climbing past a bolt. Excellent pitch.

P5 (5.11-): Climb the upward arcing undercling/finger crack to a bolt and more slab climbing. Quality.

P6 (easy 5th): Scramble up ledges to the top of a ramp. Aim for a flake below a black streak.

P7 (5.11): Climb the flake to a stance below a black streak. Clip the bolt and make committing moves up, then left to gain a ramp. The version described in the guidebook continues slightly right up the black streak to a mantle at a 2nd bolt (contrived).

P8 (5.10): A hard move off the belay to gain a dihedral, then junk. This is a short pitch, and it can probably be combined with P9.

P9 (5.11): Stem up the dihedral, Eldo style. There are some decent gear placements here, but they're in suspect rock and require tinkering.The holds are positive and seem solid, but many are in fractured features. The topo calls this section "rotten 5.11". Its really not as bad as it sounds. Continue up a nice handcrack through a bulge to a 2 bolt belay. A fine pitch.

P10 (5.11, crux): From the belay face climb out left through a peg band and up to a powerful undercling traverse out a roof. We thought this was unquestionably the hardest climbing on the route. There is a fixed new blue alien from a previous party in this section, just waiting for someone with the patience to clean it. Continue up a dihedral and belay high.

P11 (5.10): A long pitch. Climb broken rock up to a long, darkly varnished corner. Awkward, pastoral, and unpleasant with marginal pro. Positive edges keep appearing just when things start looking grim. The S. Green Colorado guide calls this pitch "excellent"... you decide.

P12: A short pitch to the rim. From here its a ten minute flat walk back to the campground.


Standard Black Canyon rack with RPs.