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Debutante's Ball 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c

Type:  Trad, 12 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c [details]
FA: K. Wheeler, G. Lomme, & S. Miller
Page Views: 2,152
Submitted By: Joe Collins on Oct 11, 2003

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Starting the crux pitch.

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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.

Photos of Debutante's Ball Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 9's "rotten 5.11" dihedral
Pitch 9's "rotten 5.11" dihedral
Rock Climbing Photo: Malmgren following the cruxy slab of pitch 4
Malmgren following the cruxy slab of pitch 4
Rock Climbing Photo: Malmgren peering up at the 11- finger crack of pit...
Malmgren peering up at the 11- finger crack of pit...
Rock Climbing Photo: We believe this was the third pitch
We believe this was the third pitch

Comments on Debutante's Ball Add Comment
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By Andy Johnson
Dec 3, 2003
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

This is just an ok route in my opinion. There is a lot of total mank on this route. The saving grace is that there are a couple really fun pitches. Sounds like a lot of Black routes I guess. I have only done about 10 routes in the canyon, and this one is by far my least favorite. I will agree that the crux is finding the start. The obvious feature is the huge boulder next to twin thin cracks and not thin like thin fingers, but beak or knifeblade thin. There were at least 5 moments that I yelled down to my partner that I was 100% positive that I was off route, then moved up a move and realized that I was, in fact, on route. Worth doing once, maybe.
By Boo T. Call
Aug 21, 2004
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a

The blue Alien now adorns my rack.

Worth doing once, that sounds about right.

60m run-togethers: *p3 to a low-angle trough belay above the 5.10 roof (195'); *trough belay through the 11- fingers/RP seam pitch (180?); *'easy 5th' + 5.11 boulder problem =195'; *hard move to junk + '5.11 rotten' (more like 5.10 NTB)= 190'.

You can run the rope out on top as well.
By clustiere
Apr 25, 2007

Would anybody recommend the debacle over the original start???
By stevecurtis
From: Petaluma California
May 17, 2009

We thought this route was worth doing--once.

The start is tough to find and loose. After that, we wandered right and left for 50 or more feet, and got back on line at pitch 5. The top of the route is easier to follow.
The rotten crack pitch requires care--take a # 4 Camalot. Pitch 8 and the area below the black dihedral contain vibrating death blocks. The dihedral itself is often rotten. Enjoy.

By the way, a big piece at the start of the route fell off.
By eric whewell
From: Longmont, CO
Nov 5, 2009
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

One of the worst routes (I have done) in the Black.
By Vic Zeilman
May 2, 2013

Just a note to help people find the correct start: the twin seams are relatively short and hard to find at first. Begin in the SOB gully, below a large boulder which is about 50' above a sizeble tree (just before you reach the terrace that is between the two buttresses). This climb is rad - certainly worthy of more traffic than it sees.
By Bryce Lokey
From: Montrose
Jun 20, 2016
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

2 stars for the 5.11 climbing and the 4th pitch pulling onto the arete. Not sure I can share Vic's enthusiasm for this one. An update from 6/18/2016:

Pitch 7 described above or pitch 6 on Vic's topo: could not see a second bolt on the 5.11 boulder move. Traversing left after the 1st bolt is an easy escape. The corner above is now glistening with dirt, top to bottom. The upper corner had something big fall out of it and what remains is hollow, loose, and downright dirty. Some old root systems from a bush or tree plus several good sized blocks remain adhered to the wall with who knows what. Not fun. Heads up.

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