Trip Report
Trip Report: In search of the best crack at the Needles
Monday November 4, 2013 10:37am
Voodoo Dome, Sequoia National Forest
Voodoo Dome, Sequoia National Forest
Credit: Aaron Cassebeer

We recently took a trip to the Needles to brush the dust off a forgotten classic, The Emperor.

http://theinspiredclimber.com/2013/11/04/trip-report-in-search-of-the-best-crack-at-the-needles/

Thanks for looking,
-Aaron

  Trip Report Views: 1,566
Aaron Cassebeer
About the Author
Aaron Cassebeer is a climber from Mojave, CA.

Comments
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Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Menlo Park
  Nov 4, 2013 - 10:46am PT
what a beautiful crack ...
ground_up

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
  Nov 4, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Nice Job ! That looks awesome. Thanks !
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Nov 4, 2013 - 01:44pm PT
Very cool crack...

My first BBQ was climbing that thing, aid on hexs...... But I think the 12 section is on P2....A3 or 12a

It's stacked KB's for like 25 feet, I have never spoke to anybody who said they did it free.

Maybe Kris will set the record straight with the new GB....

Good job on sending this one. Its harrd 4sure.
pvalchev

Social climber
Truckee, CA
  Nov 4, 2013 - 02:23pm PT
Glorious looking crack, as always in the Needles! Thanks for the TR!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Nov 4, 2013 - 02:41pm PT
Impressive!!

So how hard is that Emperor thing anyway? You know, just in case it doesn't say it on every single photo....heh..heh...
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
  Nov 11, 2013 - 03:02pm PT
Just for the record; I did the first ascent of the Emperor crack back in 1970Ö..not free, but the OP mentioned the FA. The American Joe Brown followed me up. We nailed it back then while doing the first 3 pitches of PEA SOUP. We got about 1/2 way up the first ascent of Pea Soup on that occasion and left fixed ropes. I went back with Fred Beckey to finish the climb months later. I did do some interesting face moves up higher above the little alcove at the top of the Emperor. From the alcove belay I moved out and left and got onto the chicken-head face out over there. Thereís a sloping chicken head mantle that I put in a bolt above (only part way in and tied it off) and then climbed the face above. Iíve been trying to get somebody to go up there to see how real it is. Itís relatively difficult above 5.10 somewhere. Above the bolt it is blank so I let my body slide to the right with body friction until I could grab a small lie-back flake and move up with that. Anyway, it basically bypasses the easy gully above the alcove and makes a better climb of the wall. I did that section also when I was up there with Joe.

It seems like the Emperor is a bit like 'City Park' at Index Town Wall (5.13d), but slightly wider and with sharper edges and features. I've aided City Park too, but clean. :>)

Thanks, Dan McHale
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Nov 4, 2013 - 04:59pm PT
First pitch is 5.11c. Second is some kind of 5.12. It eluded me when I tried it. IMO harder than .12a...

Looks like y'all had a great time on one of the best Needles cracks.
jaaan

Trad climber
Chamonix, France
  Nov 4, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
So Kris, I'm not sure I'm following this right. Are the photos of the first pitch?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 4, 2013 - 05:49pm PT
Great photos!

Here a couple of overlays which show the general location, and might help other people find it more quickly.
But Kris' guide will help even more!


Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 4, 2013 - 06:04pm PT
Thanks for the history McHale!
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Nov 4, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
Awesome photos Aaron!

Thanks for a location shot Clint.

Looks like there are some other sweet cracks and dihedrals near by. Can anyone draw in some of these other lines?

The Skull, 5.11+ - Five pitches.

Millenium Falcon, 5.13b

The Dark Side, 5.12+

Aurora Austrialus, 5.12a

Aurora Borealus, 5.12

I got those names from here: http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/needles/p18.pdf

But the quality of that scan is pretty bad...

Was hoping for another overlay like this one:
http://www.stanford.edu/~clint/needles/Voodoo_Alexander_8382a.jpg

Wanna bridge the gap until the new guide comes out!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
From Panorama City, CA
  Nov 11, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
Hey Darwin. It's funny, I remembered quite a bit from my time up there with Joe, but I remember zero from when I was with Beckey. Memory from once we got to the high-point of where me and Joe got to is a blank. I do remember Jumaring up the old green military goldline type rope me and Joe had left. It had been hanging up there for quite a few months. That was the crux of going back - that rope was wimpy to start with. I read Beckey's old account in the AAJ and I have no clue of having done any of the upper climb. One clue is that I had a bad case of something like ADHD in High School and could blank out big swathes of time. I remember starting to redo the crux climing on the chicken-head face I had done with Joe, but with Beckey it seemed like we were pressed for time so we probably just headed up the easiest way possible to 'bag' the rest of the climb.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 5, 2013 - 02:01am PT
But the quality of that scan is pretty bad...
haha, that is putting it mildly.

Sure, Luke - I've drawn those other climbs in for you:

Note: I have not done all these climbs; this is just a projection of the Moser-Vernon-Paul topos onto Alexander's photo, using the free GIMP image editing software.
[and with Kris' correction to Millenium Falcon]
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Nov 4, 2013 - 08:04pm PT
Thanks for the TR. That's one fine looking crack!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Nov 4, 2013 - 08:07pm PT
Nice, nice, nice.....still haven't been there, no excuses.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Nov 4, 2013 - 08:17pm PT
Me too!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 4, 2013 - 08:46pm PT
Say YES to crack!!!!!
Ksolem

Trad climber
Monrovia, California
  Nov 4, 2013 - 08:49pm PT
Millenium Falcon starts well right of where shown, on the blunt arete left of Emperor. This will be obvious to anyone looking for it, that is where the bolts are.

To the right of Double Jeopardy, across the clean face, is an arete. It is not as blunt as appears in the photo. When you're up there you'll see the bolts. This is "Supernova," 5.12b, Carson-Yaniro, ***.

The left arching but right facing corner just to the right of Supernova is "The Light Side," 5.11 a/b, Carson-Leversee, ***. Climb a short pitch with cruxy stemming to a good ledge. Pitch 2 continues up the fantastic corner through overhangs to a rap station. Of course one could link with Double Jeopardy to the top.

Just to the left of Ewok is a prominent flake with bolts. This is a fun little sport climb called Broken Arrow. 5.11a, Brian Jonas-Ron Carson, **.
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Nov 4, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
Fantastic photos, Aaron.

TR's are the best thing about the Taco.

TFPU!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
  Nov 5, 2013 - 02:09am PT
Thanks, Kris - I corrected the overlay for Millenium Falcon,
to move the bolts over to the blunt arete.

This is a good example of why real knowledge is a lot better than semi-blindly reproducing an old topo.
I hope work on the real guide is going well!

Kris, I didn't add the other routes you mentioned, but I could take a try at it.
The "eric and lucie" photo shows the sharp arete, but I haven't asked them for the original version.
Do you already have (or plan to make) a good photo overlay of this section for the guidebook?
Or are you using a topo diagram here? That would be quite good also.
I think some people download photo overlays like this to their smartphone
and take them to the crag in case they have trouble identifying the routes.
Aaron Cassebeer

climber
Mojave, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 5, 2013 - 10:32am PT
Luke, this area is well worth visiting for a day or even a weekend. There are several other routes at the same anchor as Ewok that you can warm-up on. Also, The Dark Side caught my eye as an awesome, but ridiculously hard looking corner. The protection looks interesting to say the least. I would also add that the crux of The Emperor (for us) was the first 25 feet. It is laser-cut 0.5 Camalots with marginal feet. We decided the climbing above was somewhere around 5.11b/c to the anchor, but I'm sure there are other opinions out there.

-Aaron
geoffgeorges

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Nov 5, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
Any idea when the Kristian Solem guide book is coming out?
cultureshock

Trad climber
Mountain View
  Nov 5, 2013 - 12:06pm PT
Thanks for all the beta.

Didn't mean to hijack your thread Aaron. I always thought voodoo dome only had slab routes. Good to know there are some killer cracks.

Seems that I will have to make a visit to Voodoo Dome!

Another perspective of the same area from another thread
Credit: splitclimber
splitclimber

climber
Sonoma County
  Nov 5, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
sick looking crack

was just gonna post those pics on here too.

here's another
Credit: splitclimber
guyman

Social climber
Moorpark, CA.
  Nov 5, 2013 - 04:26pm PT


Luke, this area is well worth visiting for a day or even a weekend

The Road would be open in late March... we would keep climbing there - weekend after weekend intill the heat in June would become to intense.

But now the road opens up Memorial Day!

Pretty lame IMHO.

There are some really nice long Moderates that start at "The Dihedrals"... The R & L Snort, Summer Sorjourn etc....

Good to see some climbers going back and sending.
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