Dow leading the first pitch above.
I had climbed the Spell (5.10), Sarcophagus (5.9) and Howling (5.10a), all located on the north or west faces of the Warlock, several years earlier but had never ventured to the south side. In the summer of 2017 we climbed the S Crack (5.10), South Face (5.9+) and Imaginary Voyage (5.9). Of these routes on the Warlock, by far the easiest are the Howling and Imaginary Voyage. Imaginary Voyage is a better route than the Howling in that it is more of a sustained climb and considerably longer. Since neither are significant objectives, it would make sense to combine them for one day of moderate climbing. Climb Imaginary in the morning and rap the Howling and then climb the Howling. In any regard, it makes sense to either leave your packs at the notch or drop them at the base of the Howling before descending the col between Voodoo and the Warlock. Imaginary Voyage was established in 1977.
This route is amazingly straight up with few left or right trends. Although a topo that has been circulated as well as the 2017 guide book show this route as 5.9, emphasis should be on 5.9- at most particularly by Needles standards. It is difficult to point out any 5.9 moves en route. The first two pitches are the bulk of the route with the first pitch being favored by most.
Hike into the Needles proper approximately three miles. The Warlock is to the east of the Witch and shares a col with Voodoo Dome. You could approach any of these Warlock south face routes from the same approach some prefer for Voodoo. However, the hike down to the start from where you normally leave your gear up at the main notch is short and simple, particularly for Imaginary Voyage which is fairly immediate from the col. Contour around to the col between Voodoo and the Warlock. The first pitch is an obvious 200’ tall crack with a stem box at the start (photo). From the col, you start angling for ledges below this crack without descending much ground.
Route DescriptionImaginary Voyage, 800’+/-, 5.9 (5.8)
1st Pitch- 200’- 5.8/ This is a stellar pitch sustained in the 5.7-5.8 range. Although there is a lot of mention of it being wide on other beta sites, it is not an off width climb and there is plenty of opportunity for small to medium pro. There are enough features to make much of the climbing 5.7. The crux might be the slab moves through a singular pro bolt near the end. Belay off of a fixed rap at the start of a left facing dihedral.
2nd Pitch- 180’- 5.8/ Follow the curving dihedral up. This is fairly easy climbing with your right hand at times on the top of the dihedral and plenty of features for your feet. Obtain a ledge and continue climbing straight up a vegetated hand crack on the wall directly above. Trend left near the top to enter the base of the chimney.
3rd Pitch- 160’- 5.7/ A real straight forward stem chimney straight up and belay on a small ledge on the right below a large block that forms multiple cracks.
4th Pitch- 115’- 5.8/ Almost every pitch shows 5.9 on the topo I used, but again, hard to find the 5.9 climbing. Head up the obvious crack system to below another large block. I climbed the right side which is a bit wide, but went well. Then traverse left and up to the upper ledge. No matter how you extend your placements, the rope drag over the sharp left you make will be such that you will want to stop at the ledge below the obvious final head wall. There is a fixed rap to the right for an escape off of Warlock, but the final pitch goes up the obvious medium-wide corner.
5th Pitch- 115’- 5.8/ Follow the corner up to its terminus. There are two bolt lines after the intial wide crack on the right wall, you want the bolted arete on the right. Face climb with positive face features to the summit.