Trip Report
Living Like Stan on the Hermit Spire
Thursday June 7, 2018 10:19pm
Hermit Spire, South Face. An interesting edifice of nature highlights the rolling subalpine hills west of the Little Kern River, closely north of Lloyd Meadows (several miles north of The Needles). Its base is shaped like a typical Sierra dome, but about 600 feet higher its walls slenderize to form a crest-like spire. Dan McHale and I spent Nov. 29 and 30, 1969 climbing the south face, which had to be reached by some cross-country effort. The climbing was spectacular but with a rough (unglaciated) surface of minute horns, hollows, knobs, and spikes. We began up a chimney and jam-crack system that brought some early strenuous moves to the climb. After three pitches and some awkward moments, the route eased through some zigzag ledges to the base of the face’s principal feature: a great dihedral system that carried up to a platform just east of the thin summit crown. First there was delightful face climbing to its right, then a full pitch–mostly a dog-leg crack–hanging onto the dihedral. A pitch of semi-overhanging bonging provided some workmanlike aid maneuvers.

From the platform a smooth face on the left (very small holds) went to the crest of the south arête. In a biting wind and approaching darkness we climbed an awkward aid route on the frontal-right corner of the summit tower. There was no sign of an earlier visit, and the rappel down the “back” led us to believe Hermit had not been climbed before our visit. NCCS IV, F8, A3.

Fred beckey
Stan Searfus was a surf legend and mentor to our community, father of six, and had a Fred Beckey sense of adventure. He died of a heart attack while surfing this past winter.

Stan had asked to do a route with me and Mike a year ago- He was in our thoughts.
Hermit Spire from the Freeman Creek Saddle
Hermit Spire from the Freeman Creek Saddle
Credit: Contractor
You catch a brief glimpse of the Hermit, through the trees from a saddle driving in on a narrow forest road. Holding fast to it's namesake the Hermit is literally cloaked by the more renown Needles, a few miles to the South. The lonely formation is perched above the Freeman Creek drainage to the South and the Kern River Valley to the East.
Setting up camp at Quaking Aspen camp ground
Setting up camp at Quaking Aspen camp ground
Credit: Contractor
Gary, Mike and I left San Diego at 7pm, drove in shifts though the night and pulled in to Quaking Aspen at 2am.
The Hermit's West Face
The Hermit's West Face
Credit: Contractor
After 3 hours of sleep we rambled up to the West Face for a day of zombie cragging. Kris was nice enough to check with one of the original developers, (Mark Robinson) for the condition of the hardware. We found the bolts to be generally in good condition.
Gary Anderson leading "Shoulder Hopper"-10b
Gary Anderson leading "Shoulder Hopper"-10b
Credit: Contractor
Some of you may know Gary, he is one of the most humble and generally cool guys around. I call him the Peruvian Mummy- at 64, he requires no water and just get tougher with age- he still pulls on 11's.

6 years ago Gary was stupid....I mean nice enough to help teach Mike and I to climb- we were 46 at the time.
Mike- Two yards and a cloud of dust, true to form
Mike- Two yards and a cloud of dust, true to form
Credit: Contractor
Mike and I have been best buds since 1st grade. We played football, surfed, partied, traveled and created mayhem together ever since...I never thought we would be climbing partners. Mike was a punishing All-League defensive end and fullback in our home town of Coronado. A good fullback protects your blindside and moves the ball downfield every touch- So it goes with Mike's climbing- reliable and tough.
Left to Right: Ron Carson, Gary Anderson, Contractor, Mom, Mike and St...
Left to Right: Ron Carson, Gary Anderson, Contractor, Mom, Mike and Step Dad.
Credit: Contractor
I'd be remiss not to mention my Mom and Stepdad (Alpha Squad). My Stepdad, was a Navy Frogman/Seal and served 3 or 4 tours in Vietnam, so to keep the folks active and out of trouble we usually send them in early to reconnoiter and establish an advanced camp. He has a special skill of making contact with the "friendlies" and gathering valuable intel- this is usually the camp host and we can count on preferred treatment throughout our stay.

Ron (pictured on the left) is a local climber, artist and cowboy poet and has become a special friend to our family. On our visits over the last 4 years, Ron has toured us around the Needles and Dome Rock and shown us some very special places and things. Unfortunately he couldn't join us on our climbing activities this trip- it was nice to catch up though.
Park here for the approach to Hermit.  It's about 1/8th mile past the ...
Park here for the approach to Hermit. It's about 1/8th mile past the meadow on your left as you drive in.
Credit: Contractor
Due to red wine, beer and a few pipe loads the night before, we got a gentleman's start on Saturday morning for our approach to climb the South Face.
Heading in with a leisurely pace
Heading in with a leisurely pace
Credit: Contractor
After walking a few hundred yards though a few open spots and a couple of patches of trees the cairns will lead you on a long traverse up and to the left. We did much trail work on our two days of walking the trail.
The Notch, looking South East
The Notch, looking South East
Credit: Contractor
The huge roof on the West Face
The huge roof on the West Face
Credit: Contractor
We racked up on the notch saddle, left our packs and headed down the steep gully towards the toe of the formation.
Between the second and third buttress, an open recess marks the start ...
Between the second and third buttress, an open recess marks the start of the climb
Credit: Contractor
The start
The start
Credit: Contractor
Look for this splitter as you scramble up the recess- it marks the start. Much of the beta describes climbing the dirty cracks to the right of the splitter....why? The splitter is 10 something and protects well, just make sure after about 15 feet you exit and stem across to gain the ledge to the next crack system.
Contractor moving up the first pitch
Contractor moving up the first pitch
Credit: Contractor
Gary stemming the vegetated chimney on a fixed line
Gary stemming the vegetated chimney on a fixed line
Credit: Contractor
The vegetated chimney on the second section of the first pitch was a little more strenuous and run-out than I expected but solid kick-stepping in the ferns helped immensely.

To save time, Mike and I swapped leads and fixed a tag line for Gary to follow on a TR solo rig-this worked well. I had burned through my large gear by the time I got to the ledge at the base of the second pitch but a chockstone at my feet worked fine (a #4 and #3 would have been nice here).
Mike working the crux on the second pitch
Mike working the crux on the second pitch
Credit: Contractor
The second pitch has many options but I believe the easier climbing is out on the face to the right of the cracks. A well placed Big Bro by Mike tamed down the run-out here.
Gary Looking down on the third pitch
Gary Looking down on the third pitch
Credit: Contractor
Mike pulled up to a huge ledge and slung a big boulder to set the belay for the third pitch. This pitch involved some scrambling up a short face and loose blocks, left towards the massive dihedral. A couple of exposed zigzags up ledge system lands you at the base of the dihedral and a perfect hand crack start.
The start of pitch 4
The start of pitch 4
Credit: Contractor
Mike at the belay, atop pitch 4 with Gary moving up the stegosaurus ju...
Mike at the belay, atop pitch 4 with Gary moving up the stegosaurus jugs below
Credit: Contractor
What can I say, pitch 4 was amazing!
Contractor on pitch 5
Contractor on pitch 5
Credit: Contractor
Pitch 5 was fantastic as well with slung knobs and a tricky blind placement. After the angle of the dihedral backs off and you find yourself walking on the east edge of the dome, the dogleg crack appears on your left. There is a nice comfy belay right at the base of the start of pitch 6- this is marked by a thin horizontal seam about 8 feet off the deck.
Gary looking over the Freeman Creek drainage towards the Kern River Va...
Gary looking over the Freeman Creek drainage towards the Kern River Valley to the East and the back of the Needles to the South East.
Credit: Contractor


To start pitch 6, move up and though the seam to gain the dogleg corner crack.
The dogleg
The dogleg
Credit: Contractor
The dogleg will eventually trend up and right, though some blocks and along a walk-way with a short wall on your left side- soon you will see the summit block. Step up and left onto the flat patio and setup a belay.
Gary on the summit patio getting psyched to lead out to the summit blo...
Gary on the summit patio getting psyched to lead out to the summit block
Credit: Contractor
For pitch 7 there are a few options to the summit block. Gary went to the right side of the tower and lead through an airy traverse that protected very well. After 25 feet of traversing under a roof, a nice angling lay-back crack with solid finger locks lead Gary to the summit and a bolted belay.
Mike and Gary on the summit
Mike and Gary on the summit
Credit: Contractor
From the summit belay bolts, you walk to the north end of the summit block where you will find a couple of rap bolts. From here it's a 30 meter rap to the notch and a few steps to your packs.
A nice end to a great climb
A nice end to a great climb
Credit: Contractor
Is the Hermit Spire a Needle- yes!
Enjoying our trail work on the way back to camp
Enjoying our trail work on the way back to camp
Credit: Contractor
Alpha Squad (Mom and Dad) had hot grub when we returned to camp- thanks for being there!
Vicious- 11c
Vicious- 11c
Credit: Contractor
Incarcerater- 11b
Incarcerater- 11b
Credit: Contractor
No Needles trip is complete without a TR session on get-away day in the Amphitheater at Dome Rock.
Nobe Young Falls
Nobe Young Falls
Credit: Contractor
Then followed by a cold beer and a bath at Nobe Young Falls.

Pitch 1. 160
Pitch 2. 110
Pitch 3. 110
Pitch 4. 160
Pitch 5. 200
Pitch 6. 180
Pitch 7. 100

Suggested Rack:

1- set of medium to large nuts
a few aliens
1- set of doubles to #4
1- #5

It seemed that #4's and #3's were handy at the belays so having extras would have been nice- we didn't have extras and much of the territory requires wide stuff and although the climbing is not too hard the pitches are long.

a big bro in the 8" range was nice
South Face of The Hermit Spire
South Face of The Hermit Spire
Credit: Contractor

  Trip Report Views: 2,459
Contractor
About the Author
Contractor is a boulder climber from CA.

Comments
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skywalker1

Trad climber
co
  Jun 7, 2018 - 11:06pm PT
Good times with great friends, and a hidden gem. Nice read, felt like I was there. I want Alpha Squad!!! Mine is sorta reversed. ;-) Oh and the water...Looks like it was a great time, something everyone needs. Thanks for posting!

Cheers!

S...
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 8, 2018 - 03:04am PT
Nice granite!
Thanks
tradmanclimbs

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
  Jun 8, 2018 - 06:01am PT
Nice!!
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Jun 8, 2018 - 06:05am PT
Nicely done, lads. Great pics and a wonderful story, thanks for sharing your adventure with us.
cheers
Friend

climber
  Jun 8, 2018 - 06:33am PT
Awesome!
I wish I had a photo of my mom and dad and Ron Carson camping in the sierras.
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
  Jun 8, 2018 - 07:52am PT
Nice guys! Did that one over a decade ago. What a prize! Great to see Ron Carson out there. Diod he get in some climbs with you guys?
shylock

Social climber
mb
  Jun 8, 2018 - 07:58am PT
Cool trip with the family. And Mr. Carson! That's pretty cool. I have yet to make it to Hermit and really want to. Thanks for the trail work. And also, good system with the party of three. My friends and I do that a lot.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Jun 8, 2018 - 09:33am PT
Nice TR. Hermit Spire rocks.

Ron Carson put up some of the hardest routes of their kind on the planet. Go to Dome Rock, do skid row, and try to imagine drilling the bolts on lead from "stances." And that's one of his easier routes on Dome. Yikes.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jun 8, 2018 - 09:53am PT
Way to get after it guys!
Cool report and pics,
TFPU
Tad
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jun 8, 2018 - 10:04am PT
Looks like a great spot to visit and climb. Thanks for putting this on my radar.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jun 8, 2018 - 11:29am PT
Nice. I did that route well over 20 yrs. ago and occasionally get back there, typically if it's a holiday weekend and we think the classics at the Needles might be a little crowded.

Question: where did you park for Nobe Young Falls? I've been trying to figure out where that is for some time. I think my kids will likely refuse to help look for it after a couple of poor recons.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
  Jun 8, 2018 - 01:14pm PT
workmanlike aid maneuvers
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  Jun 9, 2018 - 10:24am PT
what talent on display contractor, so well presented.
i think we can find a replacement for you at your day job if it leads to a fresh stack of trip reports

glad to know about this: http://kernriversierra.com/hike/Nobe_Young_Falls_Hike.html

Credit: artist: dahartley.com
StahlBro

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
  Jun 8, 2018 - 03:17pm PT
Very nice. Hermit does not get enough love.
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Author's Reply  Jun 8, 2018 - 05:40pm PT
Thanks for the nice feedback folks!

Mooch, Ron didn't climb this trip but we climbed last season together a Dome Rock. I brought a 300-foot static line with my TR solo kit.

He promptly went out and got the same setup. He's been free soloing Tree Route and running laps on a static line from time to time.

I have a future Trip Report in the works involving Ron.

Fat Dad
Credit: Contractor
there's a nice pool and slide about a hundred feet down the hill from the falls.

Hobbie, thank you so much I appreciate that! I thoroughly enjoy being a participant and contributor to the climbing community- a special group of souls.

neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Jun 8, 2018 - 09:11pm PT
hey there say, contractor... wow, this was very very nice!

thanks for sharing... loved the 'mom' part, :)


and, the waterfall, :)


thanks again, :)
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Jun 8, 2018 - 09:26pm PT
Thanks Contractor. I'll have to try again. Good tip about the pool and slide. The kids will be up for that.
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
ne'er–do–well
  Jun 8, 2018 - 11:16pm PT
Epic summit block.
moosedrool

climber
Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Jun 9, 2018 - 09:38am PT
Very cool.

TFPU!

Moose
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 9, 2018 - 05:26pm PT
Dig it! Looks like a great trip with good friends and a stellar location.


Tell me about your solo top rope set up. I'm interested in how you read things. Sounds like something that would be great for our local crag that has a four pitch 5.5 that would be amazing to go huck a lap or two on after work when I cant find a partner.

Scott
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, Bozeman, the ocean, or ?
  Jun 9, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
What an awesome report. Wonderful pics too


Susan
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Author's Reply  Jun 9, 2018 - 09:53pm PT
Thanks Susan!

Scott,
The second (follower) tags a dynamic, cleans all the gear with the exception of a piece or two for directionals, then at the belay, fixes the tag line on the master point for the third.

The Third TR solos with two devices, preferably. The most common setup I see is a Microsender on top, held up with a chest harness made with two shoulder length slings and a micro traxion on the bottom. That's just one way, there are obviously several methods that are safe and have been discuss thoroughly on supertopo.

The third was careful to tend the tail of the fixed line as he moved through to make sure it wasn't hung up on anything. If the fixed line got caught on anything I'm sure it would have been easy for Gary to go in rap mode and drop down to deal with it. We had no such issues and he arrived at the blay consistently right around the time the leader was moving up on the next pitch.

I forgot the most dicey detail. We would pull up the slack on the TR solo line before fixing it for obvious reasons. Gary would yell, "that's me" as in a traditional follower response. I say dicey because if Gary does not have the line secured to himself in some way, he could be left on a Ledge with the rope out of reach.

Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Author's Reply  Jun 9, 2018 - 08:55pm PT
We started at noon and were off by 7pm. We were moving at a leisurely pace and taking lots of photos.

For a party of three climbing a thousand feet I thought the system worked very well and saved some time.
Jed Andersen

Social climber
Descanso
  Jun 27, 2018 - 04:13pm PT
Very nice write up. Sweet pictures. Almost like a Climbing Magazine article and you guys are the gnar sponsored climbers. Lol. Mike recommended I look it up. Keep it up fellas.
L

climber
Just livin' the dream
  Jun 27, 2018 - 04:48pm PT
What an awesome TR!

Thanks for the beautiful photos and detailed commentary.
two-shoes

Trad climber
Auberry, CA
  Jun 27, 2018 - 09:32pm PT
Who can remember when Ron Carson was one of the most bad-ass climbers in the whole country? Good to see a pic of him, he's looking great!

Thanks for the TR!
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
  Jun 28, 2018 - 06:34am PT
Contractor for the win! Nice.
mooch

Trad climber
Tribal Base Camp (Riverkern Annex)
  Jun 28, 2018 - 07:31am PT
Sounds like something that would be great for our local crag that has a four pitch 5.5 that would be amazing to go huck a lap or two on after work when I cant find a partner.

Awww, c'mon! You know you've done the Traverse a ton of times. You should be comfy soloing it by now. I used to do laps on that thing. I haven't heard anyone take on my "time trial" lap.....yet.

Contractor -

Let me know when you get out there with Ron again. I'd love to pick his brain about a few obscurities. And to get in some climbing with that dood!
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Author's Reply  Jun 28, 2018 - 08:44am PT
Mooch, I'm there every spring and every fall. I'll let you know, probably early October this year.

We'll probably camp in Quaking Aspen and roll over to the Needles each morning for a long weekend.

I went up a year ago with a 300 foot static to gain access to those crazy run-out routes on Dome Rock.

A TR solo cruising an unfettered 300 foot pitch on some of the best face climbing around had me pretty giddy. Ron picked up the same setup and he's out there from time to time.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
  Jun 28, 2018 - 08:39am PT
Cheers!

DMT
Alois

Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
  Jun 30, 2018 - 08:28am PT
Thanks for posting this TR. Wonderful reading, great place, brought back some memories. Cheers, Alois.
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Jun 30, 2018 - 09:03am PT
Good gravy contractor...yer killing it! Great TR
Contractor

Boulder climber
CA
Author's Reply  Sep 4, 2018 - 11:30am PT
Water colour Topo added
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 4, 2018 - 02:37pm PT
Killer work on the watercolor man.
Roots

Mountain climber
Redmond, Oregon
  Sep 5, 2018 - 09:34am PT
Sweet!
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