Trip Report
Team Dad Descends upon The Needles
Sunday October 16, 2016 5:05pm
This time last year Mr. D and I both became first time fathers. Being a new parent, it turns out, is a piece of cake. They are cute and awesome and joyful, and instinct carries the day. Don't kill the baby, offer your love and good vibes, easy peasy.

The hard part is is attending to the rest of your life and relationships, the balance is an elusive dervish, always spinning on the tip of a pin. Laughing in its writhing chaos, you have to visit all of the extremes to ever hope to end up near the mean.

So what of climbing? How many friends lay their baggage upon me, "This is it. You will never climb as hard. You will turn into a doughy has-been. You're 36? Way past your prime. Next thing you know you'll only post in political threads and you will forever wallow in your self imposed prison of fear."

Oh hell no.

Mr. D and I made a vow to instead do the opposite, be good Dads, push our careers forward, and commit ourselves to getting stronger, climbing harder, expanding the realm of the possible. Of course to motivate yourself while massively sleep deprived, you need a goal, a challenge that inspires and is just on the other side of what you think you are capable of.....

One year later we live up to the promise made, and make the pilgrimage to the Needles.

Credit: snowhazed

Credit: snowhazed

The only other time I was here was four years ago, and I was blown away by how perfect this place is (;. The aesthetic, the rock quality, the isolation, the jets shooting the notch, the committing thought provoking climbing. Paradise. I knew this trip would be no different.

We cruised in from Oakland and set up shop in frigid temps. The next day we took our time, waiting for the sun and hiked out. Our route for the day was Spook Book, one of the best climbs I have ever done. A don't f$#k up or you'll hit the ground badly opening gatekeeper leads to some of the best 5.10/10+ shallow corner climbing I've ever touched. Sustained, direct, small gear, perfect.

Credit: snowhazed

We shivered a bit, but that was ok, we wanted temps to be crisp, for tomorrow was the big day.

Credit: snowhazed

We ate a big breakfast and began our approach. Walking in to big climbs is always filled with introspection and the incredible imaginative power of the conscious mind. I fell into a rhythm, seeking insight. I think of Doug Robinson's words "More dualities, poles that knit us together and pull us apart. At least up here I am forced to contemplate these things with my hands and feet, instead of my overstuffed brain."

I never thought I would ever be strong enough to lay hands on Romantic Warrior. But here I am. I am whisked away into the fantasy land of the perfect climb. The experience is sublime.

Credit: snowhazed

Credit: snowhazed

Credit: snowhazed

Credit: snowhazed

The Book of Deception is one of the best pitches I have ever climbed. Just thinking about all of that hard stemming makes me giddy as I type.

Credit: snowhazed

Credit: snowhazed

We didn't send, but we figured out most of the climbing. The campus traverse was the only part that really smacked us around. More importantly we got to play around on an iconic line. Blows my mind that you are climbing the same crack from bottom to top. More importantly than that we got to see the path forward to getting strong enough to put her down, we will be back. Most importantly we proved to ourselves that we could rise to our own challenges. Despite living in the bay, hustling to keep food on the table while taking the time to enjoy our kiddos, we also are continuing to climb harder. Carrying around a kid helps the lock-off strength I swear it.

Credit: snowhazed

We drank whiskey and ate well, and then treated ourselves to a final day of climbing on Wailing Banshees, Spooky, and Airy Interlude.

Credit: snowhazed

Very grateful for my wife for holding down the fort, very grateful to my daughter for giving me a reason to live as an example for her. Very grateful for the tumult of geological time and resulting mountain ranges of the world. May this practice nourish us, may it help us be free.

  Trip Report Views: 1,796
About the Author
snowhazed is a trad climber from Oaksterdam, CA.

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

Boulder climber
  Oct 16, 2016 - 05:16pm PT
Hey guys!
Andrew here (the old grey guy hanging with Ron and Jeff).

You guys killed it and congratulations on the kids! I have two in college and I'm just starting to hit it hard again.

This shot should be you on Saturday.

Credit: Contractor

I can email for better quality if you like.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Oct 16, 2016 - 05:22pm PT
Sweet Report,
sounds like you enjoy being a Dad.

Trad climber
  Oct 16, 2016 - 05:29pm PT
Nice! TFPU! Only been to the needles once, solo. Scared the bejesus out of me.

Trad climber
  Oct 16, 2016 - 05:34pm PT
Nice job boys! My favorite place to climb. Really good energy there ;-0

A long way from where I started
  Oct 16, 2016 - 08:48pm PT
There's something wrong here...

Oh, wait... You only have one kid. Maybe that's manageable. I wouldn't know, cuz I had two in rapid succession. Which led to four years of changing diapers, no sleep, and far too much whiskey. Climbing was something we managed about one day every other month. Fitness was something we could only dream of.

Your first real climbing trip after parenthood included Romantic Warrior. My first trip after parenthood included stumbling into a tree well on the way out from a mountaineering venture and having my partners (yeah, thanks Tami) say things like: "Hmmm. If we just leave him there will his feet wave around in the air forever?" A mountaineering venture, which, thank god included a helicopter approach, thus saving me from dying on the way in.

Great TR. Keep at it.


Trad climber
  Oct 16, 2016 - 06:25pm PT
[quote]My first trip after parenthood include stumbling into a tree well on the way out from a mountaineering venture and having my partners (yeah, thanks Tami) say things like: "Hmmm. If we just leave him there will his feet wave around in the air forever?[/quote\

Now that is funny!!!!
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Oct 16, 2016 - 06:36pm PT
Living well and loving much, you got it figured out.....thanks for the TR.

beneath the valley of ultravegans
  Oct 16, 2016 - 06:47pm PT
Let's hear it for the Rad Dads!

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Oct 16, 2016 - 08:26pm PT
I continue to be amazed by how The Needles seem to bring out the best in climbers. In the past few years I've seen both veterans and young monkees onsight routes like Pyromaniac, which not so long ago went for seasons without an ascent. Recently I met a couple of Canadians who did Romantic Warrior and Don Juan Wall in a day, then on the next day warmed up on Ankles Away and sent Pyromaniac.

But I am blown away that guys with year old kids can have their sh*t together to do the Warrior. That's truly hard core.

Jingus Newroutaineer
  Oct 16, 2016 - 08:42pm PT
Thanks Dads!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 17, 2016 - 02:53am PT
Really inspiring,
Way to go, dads!

  Oct 17, 2016 - 08:38am PT
thanks-- an inspiring TR for those of us trying to juggle a lot of things in life!

I'm confused by the photos-- did you rap into the Warrior?

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 17, 2016 - 08:44am PT
Needles awesomeness for the Dad Jugglers!!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Oct 17, 2016 - 08:53am PT
We drank whiskey and ate well, and then treated ourselves to a final day of climbing on Wailing Banshees, Spooky, and Airy Interlude.

Does it get any better than that? Congrats on a fantastic trip and for entering Dadhood. Your stoke and your gratitude is contagious. Treat the wife well, put her priorities before yours always, be a dad before a climber and you will have many happy days on the rock ahead. I've been doing it for 20 years and my wife is always my biggest fan when I'm out on an adventure.

See you out there!

Ed H

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
  Oct 17, 2016 - 09:27am PT
Great TR - way to get it done!

Congrats on the new baby.


Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Oct 17, 2016 - 09:26am PT
What a nice TR! What's most impressive to me is that with all the stay at home baby/work time, you went out and did some hard crack climbing. It's less difficult to train sport climbing in the gym and then go out and clip some bolts.
Those are some beautiful lines in a gorgeous place.
Happy climbing!
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
  Oct 17, 2016 - 10:48am PT
Nice. Looks like good times. Get those climbs in while you can--while your wife is still nice about you going away for the weekend, before the kiddie birthday parties consume your weekends and, worst of all, the inevitable spread and stretchy pants. Fight the good fight. Fight the "fat".

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
Author's Reply  Oct 17, 2016 - 11:15am PT
Hey Andrew /contractor, really great meeting you guys. So cool meeting Ron on his first day back to the needles in 15 years!

That's us on Wailing Banshees for sure, great position.

Matt's, no we approached by foot to RW.

I will absolutely fight the fat, fortunately have some role models... Jim Herson anyone?

Mountain climber
  Mar 16, 2017 - 02:22pm PT
wow, impressive stuff. as ghost said, DONT HAVE MORE THAN ONE haha. although the love intensifies, the climbing takes a big hit if you want to still be involved in your kids' lives. all worth it in the end, but i can only dream of being strong enough for anything other than being dragged up trade routes by my kid-free friends.

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Mar 16, 2017 - 02:26pm PT
Good bump.... Good TR.... Good day.

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Mar 17, 2017 - 06:56pm PT
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report