Balance Rock LLT
Lizard Peak 2x P500
Crab Claw 2x LLT

Fri, Nov 11, 2022

With: Tom Grundy
Iris Ma
Tom Becht

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile
Lizard Peak previously climbed Wed, Dec 11, 2019
Crab Claw previously climbed Tue, Dec 14, 2021


Following a successful climb of Castle Rock in the Turtle Mountains, we were looking to a few more rock climbing objectives across the AZ border around Lake Havasu. TomB wasn't too excited about the prospect of more questionable rock, but he was willing to join us to check it out, at least. I tried to sell him on Balance Rock as a good place to practice using the ascenders, which may have helped some, but he was certainly not all-in on this one. We had camped a second night off SR62 southwest of Vidal Junction, having about an hour's drive to reach Lake Havasu City. I left camp before the others so that I could get some supplies at the Safeway in Parker, AZ, as well as some caffiene at the Starbucks there. We reconvened at the Sara Park Trailhead off South McCulloch Blvd, which conveniently has flush toilets and a place to refill water jugs.

Balance Rock - Lizard Peak

From the Sara Park TH, it's a 2.5mi trail walk down to the Colorado River and Balance Rock. There are two trail options - the Yellow Trail follows a wash while the Blue Trail stays above the wash on the north side. The Yellow Trail we followed goes through a narrow section called "The Crack" (a short section where the wash narrows considerably) where a fixed line helps one down a short dryfall, the crux of the trail. We spent an hour on the trail to reach the river, turning right to follow the shoreline north to the small bay where Balance Rock can be found at its edge. We had brought a rope and climbing gear, but had mistakenly thought there were some bolts on the feature. A better reading of the available beta would have told us there were none to be found, and our gear would be inadequate. The Leaping Lizard Tribe had used a 200ft+ rope (maybe a 70m would suffice?) to walk uphill on either side of Balance Rock before pulling the rope taut to get it over the top of the feature. Not knowing this, we spent some time searching on all sides for signs of bolts, including the brushy west side that TomG had waded into. Like the day before, TomB immediately said "No way" when he got a close look at the rotten conglomerate that somehow still manages to stand. This time, however, he hung around instead of running off to another peak, perhaps sensing impending failure. After about 20min, TomG and I gave up the effort, and I think I noticed a small measure of satisfaction in TomB's face as we headed back.

Our consolation would be Lizard Peak, a trailed summit not far from our route to Balance Rock. In addition to the named trails, there are quite a few social trails about the area that go off in various directions. Several trails go to the summit of Lizard Peak. With TomB navigating, we followed (what we think is) one of the social trails approaching from the southwest and west. It wasn't the shortest route to the summit, but it is a scenic area and I didn't mind the meandering path we followed. It took us about an hour from Balance Rock to reach Lizard's summit where a picnic table is located. Google Maps has this called "Picnic Table Mountain Peak" which is pretty unimaginative and used, I'm pretty sure, by no one except the person who submitted it to Google Maps. On the descent we went off the north side, then southeast down from a saddle to visit the large lizard geoglyph that was created by the Leaping Lizard Tribe. It has been enhanced since it was first created, with white rocks added to the reddish-brown ones to produce stripes on the long tail. After taking a few photos, we returned to the main wash and then back to the TH shortly before noon.

Crab Claw

Having failed on Balance Rock, we were eager to have a better go at Crab Claw on the north side of Lake Havasu City. We had visited this a year ago without any climbing gear and failed, though we had gotten within about 15 vertical feet of the summit. We drove the two Jeeps to within a few hundred yards of the feature on the southwest side. TomB didn't need a close-up look this time to decide he wanted no part of it. He drove off to scramble up nearby Shangri-La Butte and Little Haystack while the others carried gear up to Crab Claw. Having scouted routes on the previous visit, TomG felt the best option was an off-width crack on the south side of Crab Claw. We carried the gear up to the base of the West Face, then up through a notch to reach the start of the route on the south side. The route looks a bit daunting at first glance, but as Tom quickly showed, the crux comes at the very beginning and turns out to be no harder than 5.6 or 5.7. It took Tom only 15min to complete the climb and set up an anchor and for Iris to begin as second. In all, it took only 30min to get all three of us on the summit - this one was short but fun. "Crab Claw" has been etched into the rocks at the summit and along with three different steel rappel chains/anchors, there is a Leaping Lizard register dating to 1992. Most of the recorded climbs are by Tim O'Conner and other members of the tribe - clearly the summit has been used for a lot of training/workout climbs. After a short stay, we rappeled off the west side so that Tom could have a try on toprope at the West Face crack route that goes at something like 5.10 or 5.11. While he and Iris were arranging things for the climb, I went back to the south side to retrieve all the gear we'd left there, ferrying it over to the west side in several loads. Meanwhile, Tom made short work of the westside route, struggling only a bit at the top where the overhanging crux is located. It was the first time I had seen Tom breathing heavily anywhere, but then again it was the first time I'd seen him climb at a 5.10+ grade - all quite impressive. After he was lowered back down, we pulled the rope and packed things up, then headed down to the Jeep around 3p.

It seemed like a good time to call it a day, so we went off to find a campsite about a mile to the west, on the NW side of the highway. Not the best of sites, but it would do. After showering and reconvening with TomB and Karl, we headed into town for a meal and beverages at the Hanger 24 brewery. We thought it good enough that we came back a second time the following evening. Karl had planned to head home starting this evening, but after plying him with an extra margarita or two, we convinced him to stay with us for the evening and join in the next day's hike to Tumarion Peak. After dinner, we headed back to our campsite for campfire to while away the evening hours until bedtime...


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