The best available enchainment at the Needles is linking the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Love Portion No. 9, 5.10a), with the Wizard (Yellow Brick Road, 5.9+), Sorcerer (via a 5th class scramble), the Charlatan (Spooky, 5.9) and Our Lady of the Needles (5.7) for a five peak link up. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice “Apprentice” is the lowest granite spire at the main needles area and is easily accessed by descending the same popular gully used to access most of the Sorcerer and Witch routes. Love Potion No. 9 “Love Potion” starts at the very tip of the southeast buttress of the Apprentice.
Love Potion is labeled as PG13 on other beta sites. Run-outs on the 2nd and 3rd pitches is what that the rating is attributed to. I led all the pitches and found enough natural features to sling along with other pro options as to make Love Potion as safe as most climbs at the Needles, for the respective grade. I also can’t say I found a singular 5.10a move en-route but the 2nd pitch would have several thoughtful albeit short cruxes in the 5.9+ range. Many folks bypass the 3rd pitch by rapping, but I felt it was the most interesting pitch on the route.
Hike and scramble down the gully between the Witch and the Sorcerer. Pass the Sorcerer and the Wizard on your right. Stay close to the last feature (on your right) down the gully which is the Apprentice. Start circumventing its base through thick brush and Love Potion will be fairly immediate marked by a chimney-flake like corner with large patina holds above.
Route Description1st Pitch- 150’- 5.9/ Stem and jam up the large features among the trees just left of the arête. Make a balance stem right on knobs and continue up the bolts which are hard to see on this face. Climb shallow scoops and chicken heads sustained at the same level through five bolts that slightly angle up and right to a fixed belay.
2nd Pitch- 115’- 5.10a/ Ignore the bolt straight right and down. Rather traverse right and up to the arête proper and climb through approximately three bolts before gaining the right face at a giant knob which can be slung. Traverse right (lower than higher) and then up run-out ground to a rap station. Pass the rap station and climb easy ground to a comfortable gear belay besides a large flake feature.
3rd Pitch- 120’- 5.8R/Climb directly up the face from the flake and take the arête head on. You can get one small piece and sling a small horn on the arête. Traverse out left to sling a large knob, then return to the arête for a few more exposed moves before finding easy face climbing (left) to the summit. If continuing on, go to the summit and belay off a variety of huge blocks. I stepped over one void before bringing up the 2nd to eliminate a hazard to the scramble descent to the base of the Wizard. If rapping, take a double rope rap from a fixed station on the upper face.