Needles upper approach closure dates

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Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 5, 2012 - 09:34pm PT
I just got an email from Linn Gassaway, USFS Archeaologist and project lead for the cleanup of the Needles Lookout fire site.

The work will begin on Monday, Sept. 10 and continue for about 8 days. They will be staging helicopter work from the trail-head parking area (seems like tight quarters for a helo, but that is what I am told.)

Expect the upper road 21S05 to be closed during this period, and the climber's access trail around the N side of Magician will be off limits.

If you approach the area from below please respect the Magician formation closure. After the work is done I am told that all closures will be lifted.

If I get any more details I'll post up.
graniteclimber

Trad climber
The Illuminati -- S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Division
Sep 5, 2012 - 09:41pm PT
Are they planning on rebuilding later?
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Sep 5, 2012 - 09:44pm PT
You kinda hope not, don't ya?

Margie retired anyway, right?

Then again, that may effect the bathroom, forest road conditions.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2012 - 09:47pm PT
What I am hearing is that USFS wants to do a restoration of the lookout. My understanding is that the legal conditions are being met. Raising the money will be the crux.

One real question which may affect climbers, whether they like the idea of a rebuilt lookout or not, will be this. If there is not a working lookout at the end of the trail will the USFS fund clearing and opening the road each spring?

edit: Margee is not yet retired, she has been at the nearby Jordan Peak lookout this summer.
Jebus H Bomz

climber
Reno, Nuh VAAAA duh
Sep 5, 2012 - 09:49pm PT
Yes, I thought something like that too, Kris. It's the prospect of a looong closure for the rebuilding that stings though.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 5, 2012 - 09:56pm PT
It's the prospect of a looong closure for the rebuilding that stings though.

I'm not sure that will be the case. Speculation of course, but chatter so far has a prefab cab being built offsite and lifted in by helo.

But who knows...
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Sep 5, 2012 - 10:54pm PT
Thanks for the update Kris. Looks like cleanup should be completed just before my annual Needles trip.
generationfourth

Trad climber
Arizona
Sep 5, 2012 - 10:57pm PT
thanks for the info
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 6, 2012 - 12:06pm PT
Yeah it's rude to bump your own thread, but I get a lot of emails about this so I'll keep it on the front page for a few days...

The closure will be for about 8 days beginning 9-10. Hiking all the way up to the main notch from the lower road is burly, but getting to the south face of the Warlock is just a bit further than the regular approach to White Punks on Dope...

The Needles of California - East Face of The Warlock
The Needles of California - East Face of The Warlock
Credit: Ksolem
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 6, 2012 - 07:36pm PT
The plot has thickened.

Moments ago I got another email from USFS informing me that the dates for the cleanup are changing again. The word is "...the dates of the Needles clean-up have changed and are uncertain again, but it should be soon. I will keep you informed. Sorry for the false start."

More to come...
Climbnrok

Trad climber
LA
Sep 6, 2012 - 07:42pm PT
Will all the routes on the Magician be off limits?
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
Sep 6, 2012 - 07:42pm PT
I'm sure if they get a date it will still be a maybe due to the Helicopter being called out for a fire or medical emergancy. Anything that has to do with Helos are subject to change. I guess thats just the nature of the beast. Good time to do White Punks. If your an aspiring trad leader then leading every pitch could make you more knowledgeable about what it takes to lead those old skool kinda climbs.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 6, 2012 - 07:59pm PT
Will all the routes on the Magician be off limits?

All routes on Magician have been off limits since the fire last summer. Everything will re-open after the lookout site is cleaned. For now everything else is open without restrictions but please, folks, resist the temptation to visit the lookout site.

Andyfin

climber
Sep 7, 2012 - 04:10am PT

We are traveling from Finland and the plan was to go to Needles on the 16th and stay for a week before Yosemite. Before I heard of this road closure my main concern has been will we make the trip with a SUV type 2WD car.

Having not visited the place, is there any point going there for climbing if maintenance is carried out and the roads are rough? Can we still camp somewhere with reasonable distance from the climbing?

Advice would be very much appreciated.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 7, 2012 - 04:42am PT
Andy,

If the upper road approach is closed, I would just skip it and climb in Yosemite instead.
You can use the lower road to access climbs on Voodoo Dome, but most people will want to climb on the Sorcerer and Witch (and maybe Romantic Warrior on the Warlock). You will want the upper approach road for those.
So hopefully Kris can update the closure dates when he hears more.
I wouldn't worry about the rough road - you can move rocks around, etc. to get past a few rough spots.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 7, 2012 - 11:33am PT
Andy that is a tough situation. I really hate to see you miss out on climbing at the Needles, this place is kind of the opposite to Yosemite (free unrestricted camping, a wilderness feel to the climbing, etc.)

I suspect that the reason the dates for the work got pushed back is to do some road work. The road, which was already in disrepair, was badly damaged by a couple of local but extreme thunder storms a few weeks ago.

Whatever the case, the project lead for the lookout site work is being very helpful to stay in close touch with me regarding any developments. I, in turn, will post up every bit of news I get here.

You can also send me an email through this forum, and then I'll put you on my list of people to inform directly.
Andyfin

climber
Sep 10, 2012 - 02:13pm PT
I called the Tule River Ranger District (559)-539-2607.
The ranger on the phone said there were no closures at the moment (10th of Sept) and he didn't know of any coming up for road 21S05. This is pretty much what I wanted to hear, but maybe I was talking to the wrong guy.
The only closure he mentioned was for the quarter of a mile leading to the steps to the burnt fire lookout. That shouldn't be a problem?
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2012 - 08:14pm PT
Okay here's the beta...


Date: September 14, 2012 www.fs.fed.us/r5/sequoia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Needles Closed for 10 Days for Clean-up

SEQUOIA NATIONAL FOREST The Needles Fire Lookout Tower, located on the Western Divide Ranger District within the Giant Sequoia National Monument on the Sequoia National Forest was destroyed in a structure fire in July 2011. The Sequoia National Forest has contracted with “Broadbent” to clean up the hazardous debris that was left on top of the rock formation as the result of it burning. Work will begin on Saturday, September 22nd and is expected to last approximately 10 days.
To ensure public safety, a forest closure will be in effect while the work is being done. Forest Road 21S05, Trail 32E22, the stairs leading up to the site, and an area closure around the rock formations, known as the “Needles,” will be closed.
A helicopter will be utilized to sling debris from the top of the rock formation to the trailhead. During helicopter operations there is concern for rock climbers anywhere on the spires being at risk by rotor wash or debris falling from the sling load; therefore all spires on the Needles will be closed to access. If helicopter operations are finished early, the area will be reopened immediately.
The lookout tower was constructed in 1937-38 by the Civilian Conservation Corps atop the rock formation at 8,245 feet. A Forest Service employee, stationed in the tower, was responsible for detecting fires and relaying radio messages to a dispatcher, who in turn sent firefighters and support equipment to extinguish the reported fire. The tower was utilized as this employee’s office as well as their home for the summer months while the lookout was on duty. The Forest Service is working towards rebuilding the tower if conditions allow and funding becomes available.

(press releases sent out bcc)
Denise Alonzo, Public Affairs
Western Divide and Hume Lake Ranger Districts
Giant Sequoia National Monument/Sequoia National Forest
32588 HWY 190, Springville CA 93265
phone 559-539-2607 ext. 212
fax 559-539-2067


Climbnrok

Trad climber
LA
Sep 29, 2012 - 12:11am PT
How is this going? Any word?
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