Balance Rock LLT
Peak 1,260ft P300
Horse Hoof Point P300 LLT

Dec 8, 2023

With: Iris Ma
Tom Grundy

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2
Balance Rock previously attempted Nov 11, 2022


Following our success on two LLT summits the previous day, we headed to Sara Park on the south side of Lake Havasu City for a rematch on Balance Rock. Afterwards we visited a few summits in the nearby Aubrey Hills as this two week road trip headed towards its conclusion.

Balance Rock

This striking 40-foot pinnacle lies along the AZ side of Lake Havasu, overhanging on all sides. We had visited it a year earlier but had been unable to locate the bolts we had expected the Leaping Lizard Tribe to have installed when they had climbed it. Since then, we found that no bolts or pro were needed at all, just a rope trick. So this time we brought the 70m rope once again, some ascenders, and a bit of gear for securing ourselves to the summit once up. We used the same TH at Sara Park that we'd used before, and followed the same Yellow Trail for the 2.5mi hike down to the lake. This trail goes through a narrow gorge called The Crack with a short class 4 descent at a dryfall and a few easier class 3 moves, good fun. It emerges at a heavily vegetated cove, the trail exiting north to avoid the bushwhack, taking one to the north end of the same cove where Balance Rock is located. Tom took the rope and walked around on another trail to the north side of Balance Rock, taking him to a bluff overlooking it. The trail continues southwest to a BLM restroom found near the water's edge, but long before that point, he tossed one end of the rope down to where I was waiting at the base of Balance Rock. I retrieved the rope end, walked it back up to the opposite side where Iris had remained, Tom and I now both roughly the same height as the top of Balance Rock. We pulled up the rope, and then like a jumprope, swung it around to land across Balance Rock. About as easy as that. Tom tossed down his end, then returned around the way he'd come, while I walked my end of the rope down until it was hanging straight down the east side. Tom returned to secure the other end of the rope on the west side to a collection of trees growing haphazardly at the base of the pinnacle.

It had taken an hour and a quarter for the approach hike, then the remainder of the second hour to get the rope set up and ready to climb. Going first, Tom was rather speedy, taking less than five minutes to climb the rope using ascenders. He would belay Iris and I from above using the free end of the rope to make it safer for us while we were on the ascenders. We weren't nearly as quick as Tom, but it would take only 40min to get all three of us on top. There was no register in the usual sense, but the Tribe had left metal dog tags with their names on them attached to a pin driven into the rock. They had made two ascents, first in 1994, then a repeat in 2015 that was written up in the local paper. Ours may have been the third ascent, but who knows. We enjoyed our success at the summit for about 15min before rapping back down. I went first, followed by Iris, then Tom, after he'd first done his balance trick on Balance Rock. We gathered up the rope and packed it away with our gear, then headed back on the Blue trail. Just over four hours for the whole outing.

Peak 1,260ft - Horse Hoof Point

The Aubrey Hills are found south of Lake Havasu City and Sara Park, sandwiched between Lake Havasu and SR95, part of Lake Havasu State Park. The peaks here can be accessed from SR95, but we wanted to get closer using BLM roads that can be seen in the satellite view. As we came to find out, vehicles used to be welcome in the area but the public is now discouraged, though we saw no signs to make it official. A large network of mountain bike trails has been constructed in the area, which may be why they want to keep out vehicles. We found our way onto a utility road starting from the junction of SR95 and Dub Campbell Pkwy. At the SW corner we had to move a rock to allow the Jeep onto the BLM road. We drove this for several miles until the road ended in a wash on the northeast side of Peak 1,260ft, about 3/4mi away. The topo map shows the road continuing down the wash to the lake's edge, but we missed the track that would have allowed us to go further. It didn't matter much, we were close enough.

Shortly after 1p, we set off through wash and across low hills for the first 15min before starting upslope towards our first summit. The upper face on the east side is fraught with cliffs, so we aimed for the shoulder on the Southeast Ridge that looked to offer the best way up. After reaching the shoulder, Iris and I followed this ridge more directly, finding a short bit of loose class 4, but otherwise a fun scramble. Tom found the easier route around to the class 2-3 south side, but overshot the summit. I was surprised when we pulled up onto the highpoint that Tom was standing at the next, lower point to the northwest across a difficult gap. His route was better, but his route-finding was not. It would take another five minutes for him to downclimb around the gap on the south side before joining Iris and I. We still had two more peaks on the agenda, so we did not stay long - the next summit, Peak 1,379ft, was about a mile to the SSE and and looked like it could be interesting.

In his visit to the area in 2021, Stav had reported circumnavigating Peak 1,379ft, only to find it ringed by cliffs, backing off after he had breached the first cliff band on the south side. We had brought a rope and some gear in case this one turned out to be more than just a scramble. After descending the south side of Peak 1,260ft, we headed SSE across an intermediate point before dropping down to a wash and then up and around to the east side of Peak 1,379ft. Along the way, we discovered the first of the many bike trails throughout the area. Some would be helpful, others not. Tom found a map of the trails using the heat map on Strava, a clever find that we would make us of on the way back. After reaching the saddle SE of the peak, we traversed across the south side, aiming for the easier cliffs well to the left (west). Almost without trying, we stumbled upon the pile of rocks Stav had described stacking in order to overcome and 8-foot, overhanging cliff edge. After sizing it up, we decided Stav had more gumption than we'd guessed - neither Iris nor I were wanting to solo our way up that. Once again, we would let Tom do the tough part, soloing up while would spot him from below. He went up easily enough with his pack on (which suggests he wasn't too worried), after which we tossed the rope up and he went looking for someplace to anchor it to. After bringing me up on toprope, I went ahead to explore the route further while Tom was belaying Iris up.

As Stav had found, it appeared there are a series of cliffs to surmount by staying on the south side. I went around a corner to my left and soon discovered there is an upper shelf above the deep canyon cut into the west side that looked to offer a way around to the easier approach from the north. I think Stav must have missed this because it all goes at class 2 once that initial crux is surmounted. I went back to collect the other two, and together we went around the west side shelf and up to the summit about 15min after starting out. We could see the large summit cairn from a distance and began to suspect this was another of the Leaping Lizard Tribe's summits. Indeed, behind a white-painted rock on the north side of the cairn was their register from 2000. They called this Horse Hoof Point, a name I would adopt as well. Older cards listed their earlier ascent starting back in 1975. They were also the last to sign the register back in 2018. In between, there were just a small handful of other parties not members of the trible.

It would be nearly 4p by the time we returned to the crux. Iris and I rapped down, then Tom downclimbed it while we again spotted him from below. Sunset would come shortly after we packed the rope away and started back to the saddle. The last summit, Peak 1,361ft, would have to wait for another time. We descended to the northeast in the general direction of our vehicle, eventually coming across more of the trail system. Here's where Tom took over, guided by the Strava heat map, taking us along various branches of the trails that would get us most of the way back. It was getting pretty dark, but we managed to get back to the Jeep without needing the headlamps, just before 5p.

We drove back to our other vehicle parked outside the shooting range at Sara Park, showered, and said our goodbyes at the end of another successful roadtrip. Tom and Iris were heading back to the Southland via Parker Dam while I would turn north towards I-40. On a whim I decided I would check out Castle Rock north of Lake Havasu City in the morning, so I found a quiet place to camp off one of the dirt roads on that side of town. No campfire tonight - too close to the town residents...


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