Trip Report
Needles -- a photo TR
Wednesday October 22, 2008 3:55pm
In one of the current “You’re an stupid a$$hole” “No you are a stupid a$$hole” threads, Ed Hartouni made the radical
suggestion that we should “just move on to discussing other topics. A starting topic suggestion: climbing.”

So, here’s my attempt. Not much story, just a bunch of photos from my first-ever trip to the Needles last month.
It was Mari’s gift to me for my 60th birthday, but I got so sick the week before while on a business trip to Miami
that I could barely climb. She must have felt like she was climbing with a piano tied to her harness.

Started with a stay at a B&B a little north of Kernville, where we met this guy

Here’s the Needles, seen from Dome Rock (I think that’s what it’s called) a few miles south.

Our beautiful campsite

Hiking in

First objective was Fancy Free. A 3-pitch 10b on the Charlatan

Top of the Charlatan features the weirdest summit block I’ve ever seen.

Next up was Igor Unchained, on the Witch. It runs more or less up the center of this face,
and I’m sure it’s a great climb, but after I just about died on the first pitch we called it a day.

A rest day gave me back limited functionality, and we spent Thursday on the Sorcerer. Thin Ice is an amazing
climb, but I left my camera back at the campsite, so no pics. Friday we got on Imaginary Voyage on the East
Face of the Warlock.

And finally, a few random shots from our stay:

A fellow traveller

The obligatory Lookout Tower shot

A late-afternoon shot of the campsite that I should sell to MSR

And the décor in our room at the B&B


Edited to reflect Clint's route-name corrections.

  Trip Report Views: 908
Ghost
About the Author
Ghost is a climber from A long way from where I started.

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
handsome B

Gym climber
SL,UT
  Oct 22, 2008 - 03:59pm PT
looks like a great 'hang'

thanks for the TR!

survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:01pm PT
Well done ghost,

hurray for climbing threads!!



Needles someplace!


More Needles!


Ahem....Needles!


There's your strange summit block! Cozmic Banditos blocking the view.
Crimpergirl

Sport climber
Boulder, Colorado!
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:02pm PT
Most excellent! Thanks.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:08pm PT


Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:13pm PT
I like that summit block too.

The Lifeboat:


Igor Unchained:


East Face of The Warlock:
bluering

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:16pm PT
pretty cool, Ghost, to bad you were illin'. At least you got some climbing in.

I have yet to visit the Needles. Fabulous looking stone though.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:17pm PT
" ...I have yet to visit the Needles... "

Bluering, you have an appointment with The Rock!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:30pm PT
[edited to remove dup photos / route name suggestions]

What happened on Igor Unchained p1? Unexpected whipper down low, when you didn't have enough gear in yet?
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Oct 22, 2008 - 04:43pm PT
Clint asks What happened on Igor Unchained p1? Unexpected whipper down low, when you didn't have enough gear in yet?

Nope. Just total respiratory failure. I was just too sick to climb. I barely made it to the first belay on a top rope.

Thanks for the reminders on the route names. I'll change them in my OP

D
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Oct 22, 2008 - 05:29pm PT
Thanks David! That was cool.
I absolutely have to schedule a visit to the Needles (both of them) as soon as possible. Hope you're feeling better.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 22, 2008 - 06:19pm PT
bluering,

Yeah, a date with the stone is soo in order.
Great location, killer stone, mostly uncrowded, cool camping,
what's not to like??


Awesome light as well!

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Oct 23, 2008 - 01:57am PT
thanks Ghost, to bad you were down with the flu.
A favorite place of mine I don't get to visit enough

socialclimber

climber
CA
  Oct 23, 2008 - 02:18pm PT
bump
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Oct 23, 2008 - 02:40pm PT
Couple of side notes that didn't make it into the OP

For a few days we had the place completely to ourselves. Perfect weather, and not a single other person. No climbers, no hikers, no campers, nobody. Not even Margie, cuz she'd taken a couple of days off from the tower. This is maybe the single best cragging area I've climbed in in almost 35 years, and it was empty. What's up with that?

We were eventually joined by two other parties. Nicolas and Paulo from Chamonix, and an American guide and client. All really cool folks, so it was a pleasant time in the campground. Nicolas and Paulo guide in Cham, and this was their fifth visit to the US. Mostly they go to Yosemite and work on freeing the big routes on El Cap, so maybe some of you know them. This time they'd decided to try aiding. But as Nicolas said "We climb five pitch of Mescalito. We set up our portaledge but it is very hot so we drink all our beer. Then we eat all our good food. So then we come down."

Somebody told them about Romantic Warrior, and that it would be cooler in the Needles so they headed up. They warmed up for a couple of days, and were headed up Romantic Warrior the day we left.

When the American guide (don't know his name, but his van had a "California Alpine Guides" sign on it) found out this was our first visit he immediately said "So did you find everything here really hard for the grade? This place is totally sandbagged." Dude's obviously never climbed at Index. Or any place where the ratings are actually stiff. Needles grades on the routes we got on seemed to be pretty much right on.

Anyway, it was an incredible place, and we'll be back. Maybe sometime when I'm not sick.

D
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Oct 23, 2008 - 02:53pm PT
I love the Needles! Just wish I had the time to climb there.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 23, 2008 - 02:56pm PT
" ...This is maybe the single best cragging area I've climbed in in almost 35 years, and it was empty. What's up with that? "

A lot of folks go there once, get their gymbags scared right off and never return. That plus no guidebook so a climber actually has to get by without a topo, gear list, exact rating of each move, etc.

Here, Herb Laeger is starting up pitch one of his new route, Flying Warlocks (5.10,) on the N side of The Warlock. Number 22 belays.



(for those who don't recognize that hairdo, seen so often at The Needles, #22 is Rico... ;-)
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 23, 2008 - 03:03pm PT


What a beautiful place.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Oct 23, 2008 - 03:05pm PT
I gotta get there too.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 23, 2008 - 04:11pm PT
Hey Jaybro,

I can't believe that a greybeard like you hasn't been there.
Took me a long time to get there too.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Oct 23, 2008 - 04:13pm PT
seems weird to me too. Timing is all, I think. Bet if I'd gone once I'd have been back a bunch, though.


Currently shaven...

Slim Jay Dee bro, out.
Tami

Social climber
Canada
  Oct 23, 2008 - 06:26pm PT
Grate Pix Davey!!! So sorry to hear you was sick. Didja do the Robitussin + whisky chasers?
I am in total denial that yer 60.
Are you sure that isnzt yer IQ
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
BIG STINKIN GRIN
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Oct 23, 2008 - 07:20pm PT
Friend,
I recognize Love Potion #9 in your first shot, but what is the second on Voodoo. Millenium Falcon? Pea Soup?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Oct 23, 2008 - 08:13pm PT
Fat Dad,

"#22 Leading" is *not* on Love Potion #9. Friend's photo might be taken from Love Potion #9, though.

It's a bolted arete on the SE side of the Wizard, right of Nearer My God to Thee. We could count at least 7 bolts on it, viewing from Sorcerer's Apprentice.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Oct 23, 2008 - 08:25pm PT
hey there ghost.. say, this is great... really BEAUTIFUL rocks... i have heard of these areas, but never yet seen pictures like these...

thanks for the trip share and the pics...
very nicely done...
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 23, 2008 - 09:07pm PT
#22 followin' is Emperor Crack, Voodoo Dome. aka Pea Soup as an aid line.

Old&InTheWay

Trad climber
NC
  Oct 23, 2008 - 09:44pm PT
Climbing related bump
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 23, 2008 - 10:02pm PT
Needle related bump!
Dudeman

Trad climber
Idaho/Beyond
  Oct 23, 2008 - 10:16pm PT
Thin Ice

Lookout on The Magician

The Sorcerer
Grant Meisenholder

Trad climber
CA
  Oct 24, 2008 - 12:12am PT
It's been too long... Such a beautiful place. Hard to not take a beautiful picture.
Definitely not for the timid. The walk in alone is 5.9+ on the horizontal. 3 miles uphill each way! Don't underestimate what 7000 feet does to your VO2.

And there is a guidebook, albeit somewhat dated. Contains all of the classic lines though.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Oct 24, 2008 - 12:24am PT
Grate Pix Davey!!! So sorry to hear you was sick. Didja do the Robitussin + whisky chasers?

Nah. Nowhere near that sick. You don't know how close to death I was back on that night -- or how close to death you were riding with me. How the f*#k did I get the car from Golden to Canmore in that storm?

And on the subject of photo TRs, aren't you glad I didn't have a camera the night of the Robitussin + whiskey cure? Course, even if I'd had one, I'd probably have ruined it trying to take underwater pictures in the hot tub, or messed it all up in the snow storm trying to take pictures of the naked trampolining.

I am in total denial that yer 60. Are you sure that isnzt yer IQ

Just be glad I am that old. Otherwise I'd have the energy to go digging through the photo archives for pictures of you. Well, okay, now that I've got a working scanner again, maybe I'll dig out some pictures of you for ST, but they won't be that kind of picture.

xoxoxoxo

D
pk_davidson

Trad climber
Albuquerque, NM
  Oct 27, 2008 - 01:29pm PT
First trip there, climbing Black Magic/Magic Dragon, I'm just finishing nth pitch, the one where you come off the west side onto the rib and can see the rest of the area in profile.

I hear a rumbling and look down valley to see some fighter jet screaming up at us just hundreds of feet off the tree tops.

As the jockey approaches the main domes "he" does an aileron roll up and over the top of the domes and disappears down the next side, maintaining just hundreds of feet off the deck.

What a way to first see the main domes up close!

Next day we're doing Igor when the rock starts rumbling and I look up to see a pair afterburners disappearing from view.

Margie told us the fighter jocks love to try and creep up on her and rattle the windows at the same time giving her a new perm. They'll sometimes make the hike in to laugh with her over their antics. Her game is to catch them on film too close to the tower.

My understanding is that this is a MOAC area where navy jockeys practice pure instrument flying.

Gave me a pretty good appreciation for just what my F-16 flying younger brother is really all about.

What a cool place to climb.
Churningindawake

Sport climber
Portland, Oregon
  Oct 27, 2008 - 02:04pm PT
Awesome pictures, thanks for posting them. I especially like the summit block.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Oct 27, 2008 - 03:12pm PT
I hear a rumbling and look down valley to see some fighter jet screaming up at us just hundreds of feet off the tree tops.

Same thing happened to us while sitting in the Witch/Sorcerer notch. Huge noise and I look up to see a fighter jet screaming across my narrow field of view -- below me -- starting a roll as he disappeared from view.

D
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 27, 2008 - 04:50pm PT
"And there is a guidebook, albeit somewhat dated. Contains all of the classic lines though. "

(sshhhh...)

OK, nevermind. I love the old Stonemashers guide which I think Eddie Joe is selling on his website. It shows you the major routes but still requires the climber to be able to size things up and have serious good judgement.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
  Oct 27, 2008 - 05:05pm PT
We were on Summer Sojorn on Voodoo when a B1B in terrain following mode flew UNDERNEATH us headed up canyon.

About a half hour later he did it again southbound.


Never had any issues with the guidebook, but then I started out with Wilts and the Roper green book.

Last time we were up there the proprietess at the Ponderosa told us someone stole the Stonemashers guide that hung on the nail by the first booth for years.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Oct 27, 2008 - 05:26pm PT
Not to change the topic of the thread entirely, but has anyone ever done any routes on Trilogy (aka McIntyre Rocks) nearby? You get a nice view of it down the road in Camp Nelson but I've never been.

Anyone?
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 27, 2008 - 05:34pm PT
"Last time we were up there the proprietess at the Ponderosa told us someone stole the Stonemashers guide that hung on the nail by the first booth for years. "

For the record, that was not a stonemasher guide, but the more current Vernon, Paul, Moser book. It's theft was a great loss, as it contained many corrections, updates, new routes, etc which climbers had penned in over the years. It had become a bit dog eared though. I know it had my fingerprints all over it.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
  Oct 27, 2008 - 05:50pm PT
Used to be a Stonemashers guide there also. We used to compare descriptions with Vernon's

I believe it may have been stolen several years before the Vernon guide disapeared.
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 27, 2008 - 05:55pm PT
Funny, I sort of remember that now that you mention it.

"Sort of" being the operative words.

:-)
CAMNOTCLIMB

Trad climber
novato ca
  Oct 28, 2008 - 11:20am PT
very nice
Mike.

climber
  Oct 28, 2008 - 12:08pm PT
Thanks to Ghost and everybody posting the fine snaps and stories.
jenren

Trad climber
Sac, CA
  Oct 28, 2008 - 03:49pm PT
bump
LV

Trad climber
NV
  Nov 2, 2008 - 12:02pm PT
Thanks for the reminder of what a great area this is. Now I need to get back there.

Can't remember the name of this climb, but it was a great one!

[img]http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo224/southwestclingon/Needles018.jpg[img]
rincon

Trad climber
Coarsegold
  Nov 2, 2008 - 12:34pm PT
That's "White Punks On Dope" on Voodoo Dome. Yep, it's good!

Here's your picture...


TGT

Social climber
So Cal
  Nov 2, 2008 - 01:58pm PT
Doesn't the first pitch go up the splitter in the center of the alcove to a sling belay?

Seems that's what we did, and is what the Vernon guide shows.

On another note, When I did Igor the first pitch dihedral didn't look all that classic so we did the splitter just to the right. This involved some rather though provoking moves at its end to get back left. Still 9+ or so. Has anyone else done it that way?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 2, 2008 - 02:58pm PT
TGT,

> Doesn't the first pitch go up the splitter in the center of the alcove to a sling belay?
>
> Seems that's what we did, and is what the Vernon guide shows.
It's certainly what the Vernon/Moser/Paul topo shows, but the Joe/Leversee topo shows it in the LFC to the right, and since EC did the first ascent,
plus the climbing in that corner is really nice, I'm goin' with that as the "official" line! :-)

> On another note, When I did Igor the first pitch dihedral didn't look all that classic so we did the splitter just to the right. This involved some rather though provoking moves at its end to get back left. Still 9+ or so. Has anyone else done it that way?

Wow, did you do that thin crack between Igor Unchainged p1 and Vanishing Point? I have never tried it. Was it hard?

Maybe you can verify your line in the photo below?


climbers visible on Airy Interlude p1; Igor p1 is the shadowed LFC in the center.
climber also visible on Igor p1 above the third roof.
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
  Nov 2, 2008 - 03:44pm PT
So I click into this from Chris's e-newsletter. But first I look at Ed and Zanders exploits on the Five Books, then this.

The only thing I can say is: arrrghhhh.


I am so jealous of you all. I have to get back to California.


I have never been to the Needles but it has always been on my tick list.

Nice TR gentlemen.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
  Nov 2, 2008 - 04:38pm PT
Clint,
It was a long time ago, but the crack is amazingly consistent in size and I used everything I had between 3/4" and 1-1/4" and wished I'd had more. Probably continuous 7+ 8 and marvelously good.

At the top the crack curves around under the shadow and it undercuts sharply to the left so continuing to climb with hands in the crack looked impossible. I don't think you could hand traverse at that point. Long pondering lead to a couple of face moves up on some small knobs and a balancy step around into the crack again. I was above gear but not crazy run out.

Hard to say how hard it is. 9+ if you figure it out, if you don't???
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 2, 2008 - 05:02pm PT
TGT,

Cool, I will have to try that one. Hopefully I will figure it out! :-)
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
  Nov 2, 2008 - 05:29pm PT
Those are some really great photos.

I'm gonna have to go there specifically for picture taking... Love the long lines, gold and silver, black and tan.... Magical!

Thanks for the TR.

Jaybro, tell me when, I'll be there with the camera.
rincon

Trad climber
Coarsegold
  May 6, 2009 - 04:59pm PT
Needles Bump, 4 good pics and road info, etc, etc..

I called the Tule River ranger station today, and confirmed the upper road (21S05)to the Needles is still CLOSED. They don't expected to have it open until after Memorial day weekend.

The lower road (22S82) IS open! Good time to climb on Voodoo, before it gets too hot. Also Demon Dome and Merlin Dome are climbable now.

The main Needles can be reach from 22S82. Though it requires a strenuous approach. East and south facing climbs on Warlock, like Imaginary Voyage, Bird of Prey, and The South Face are doable now, and no crowds!

I have some pics from last weekend, already posted on another Needles thread a few pages back. These are taken from the end of road 22S82, at the Lloyd Meadow trailhead, and show the snow still lingering along the ridge on the backside of the Needles. The south side is completely dry and balmy.








Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  May 6, 2009 - 05:48pm PT
Hmm. There was a post on Mountain Project that 21S05 was open, along with the rest of Hwy. 190. To be honest, it seems a tad early.
socialclimber

climber
CA
  May 6, 2009 - 06:02pm PT
nice

Charles
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  May 6, 2009 - 06:19pm PT
thanks for dredging this one up, i was very sceptical. that snow does linger and i don't know if any gov't snowplow people are in any particular hurry to open up the road this time of year. i've seen the gate unlocked with road closed and had some hair raising crossings of the pass. you don't know if your out of the woods till you've found the other gate open, assuming you don't get stuck. even then the man could drop the hammer. been turned back by locked gates more often, and doubted the word from nfs when i inquired. such is the plight of the off season climber. access into the topside is a whole other question.

that stealing of the notebook is sickening. most of the gold i created in montana went down the same stinky drain. i'm pretty ambivelent about guidebooks, but destruction of grassroots communiques ranks with the scurge of the nazi bookburnings. heads up scumbag note thief, cutting lines of communication strikes right at the core of a community and even goofy has beens will defend the nest. very selfish act. if you have any regard for the hearts and souls invested in such a document you will reappear that book and restore man's faith in man.

sorry, compadres, i got some cordwood to split, topped with a hat i can spare
hooblie

climber
from out where the anecdotes roam
  May 6, 2009 - 06:50pm PT
ok, i'm back. kind of hot out there and my stove won't go in till fall anyway. black moment indeed.

well that post about the f-16 pass got me back on the bright side. happened to us out there too. and also city of rocks. the best buzzing was on a rig working the overthrust belt on the utah-wyo border. noise of the rig masked the sneek up. we were the only obvious target on the featureless terrain and i was in the derrick. i'm saying he was supersonic. i've been startled before but this was a bomb without the debris and i was in the derrick. the stockholm syndrome kicked in and my initial mindset was about bargaining for mercy. i usually come up cross eyed when chumped like that but in the quarter second it took me to figure out what happened was all it took to love every little thing on the side of the living. that pilot taught me a lesson in awe slash gratitude in a very short timeframe, i only regretted the lack of a chance to buy him a beer
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
Springdale, UT
  Jun 12, 2009 - 04:59pm PT
outstanding thread. I believe I must go there.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jun 12, 2009 - 05:06pm PT
Sweet! The Needles is the "must go" area of places I haven't been. This Summer!
Porkchop_express

Trad climber
Springdale, UT
  Jun 12, 2009 - 05:09pm PT
when? early or late summer?
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Jun 12, 2009 - 05:15pm PT
Sweet! The Needles is the "must go" area of places I haven't been. This Summer!

Yeah! I've got some unfinished business there, so I think I'll be back. Maybe September.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Jun 12, 2009 - 05:52pm PT
Gimme a holler David - Never been...like to go!!
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Jun 12, 2009 - 06:12pm PT
Hi Greg

Probably third week of September (19 - 26). Can you & Felicia get that time off?

D

ps: Are you sure you want to climb with me? I mean now that you're officially one of "Arizona's Manliest Men" and all, don't you only climb with superheros?
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
  Jun 12, 2009 - 06:37pm PT
Dang... it's getting rougher by the day around here! Thank God I skipped that photo shoot, or it would be worse. :-)

I really want to get over there!! Send me a heads up when you're ready to get serious about plans!
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Jun 15, 2014 - 12:51am PT
Wow solid gold right here big bump.
Grippa

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jun 15, 2014 - 05:37am PT
i can always count on RyanD for some quality climbing stoke!
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Jun 15, 2014 - 11:25am PT
Wow solid gold right here big bump.

Thanks for the bump. Brings back some good memories.

And you really ought to get yourself (and some of the other Squamish crew) down there. I wasn't joking when I said this is the finest cragging venue I've ever climbed in. Routes from single pitch to about ten pitches, at a variety of grades. Flawless rock, uncrowded, and in a fabulous setting.
It just doesn't get any better.
It just doesn't get any better.
Credit: Ghost
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Author's Reply  Jun 15, 2014 - 12:14pm PT
Took a break from brewing and yardwork, and dug into the archives for a couple more shots.

Pulling through the roofs on Fancy Free
Pulling through the roofs on Fancy Free
Credit: Ghost

Stemming to infinity.
Stemming to infinity.
Credit: Ghost
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go