Rollerball Formation, 5.9-5.12a

Rollerball Formation, 5.9-5.12a

Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Lat/Lon: 34.02316°N / 116.16551°W
Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter


Rollerball, 5.10b***
Dow leading Rollerball, 5.10b***

The Rollerball route itself was one of the last three or four starred 5.10b climbs for me to tick off in Joshua Tree National Park. Although it does not take much of an approach to reach the Rollerball formation, it is a bit obscure in terms of having much else to climb on it besides its name sake. It is not the most straight-forward formation or climb to find either, nestled among an assortment of messy formations.
Rollerball, 5.10b***
Dow leading through the crux of Rollerball, 5.10b***

Once you do lay eyes on it, the route is obvious: a stout roof hand crack up high. The only other moderate route that was starred in Miramontes guide was Keep the Ball Rolling, 5.9*, and it was not worthy of recommendation whatsoever. There is a sport climb, Roller Coaster, 5.11c** and a top rope, Rollerbrah, 5.12a* that do share the same anchor with Rollerball. This formation has little else to offer.

The formation can be tough to find if you head up the wrong gully in the Outback. To make it easier and more straight forward, I advise circumventing the formations in the Outback to the east until you are even with Dinosaur Rock (Negasaurus, 5.9*) on your right which sticks out independently from the desert floor to the east of Rollerball and thus is much easier to identify. Then head for a col tucked in on the northwest side of the Rollerball formation. Once you reach that col, look up and left and you should be able to make out the route itself which features a hand crack running through a significant roof. There is a bolted line that pulls the roof to the left and that is Roller Coaster, 5.11c**. These routes face west and get plenty of afternoon sun.

Route Description (s)

Routes Listed Left to Right as you Face the West Face

  • Roller Coaster- 75’-5.11c**/(sport climb)

  • Rollerbrah- 75’-5.12a*/(top rope)

  • Rollerball- 70’-5.10b***/ In terms of difficulty, Rollerball is definitely in the top tier of the mid 5.10’s. Its two cruxes, the first technical, the second physical, are more difficult to master than anything on Illusion Dweller, 5.10b, for example. You solo up a few mid-5th horizontals and then get one to two pieces of bomber small gear under a flake on the right side before stemming up to clip the lone bolt on the route. The technical crux of the route is over this bolt. A lay back move transitions into a sloped feature mantel. The next few meters go easy until directly under the roof. Place a bomber C4#1 in the roof and jam your way up the overhanging roof facing left. I was tempted to go right, but the feet (when they come) are more helpful out left. Get your left foot up high to leverage another hand jam. After a dramatic couple moves you are on easy street via a straight in hands splitter. The chain anchor is out left. If your 2nd is not up for it, you can clean the route on rap with some ingenuity. Dow

  • P.O.S. Arête- 65’-5.9/

  • Keep the Ball Rolling- 65’-5.9*/ This route was not worth doing at all. I can’t even remember much about it. What I do remember is trending left utilizing chossy horizontals for protection and then back right to finish on much easier ground. Dow

  • Bamboozler- 50’-5.11a*/

  • Romeo- 50’-5.11a/