Take the road of choice as defined on the main page to reach the desired trailhead. The distance hiking in from either trailhead is less than 2 miles. The gradient along the ridgeline is not severe, and offers some nice views of the surrounding area. Once near the vicinity of the Rock, turn south off the trail and plunge into the brush, bushwhacking your way down the slope a couple of hundred feet to the north side of the needle. Based on the bushwhacking scale as proposed by SP member "vancouver islander” in his article “In Praise of Bushwhacking”, I’d give it a B2 rating.
Scramble up the NW shoulder, and work your way to the left (east) to the first belay station – a fir tree. At this point you are on a narrow shoulder, looking south down into a deep bowl shaped cutout in the pinnacle.
Route DescriptionTaking it from the fir tree belay, the first short pitch is primarily protected by bolts, and is on decent quality rock, slabby and blocky with some cracks. When we first scouted this route the previous year we did not see the bolts, and had surmised that we needed to protect this portion with iron and hammer. When we came back the following year to climb my partner started laughing as he rounded the corner leading the first pitch, expecting to hammer in a pin. He said “you’ll see”, when I asked what the guffaw was about. After rounding the corner, and then working back up to the right, west side of the face, cross over a bulge and you’ll come to a grassy ledge. The route then turns to the left and up into the corner. We turned the route into two pitches, and I’m not certain if one 60m rope will allow the route to be climbed in one pitch. Find a suitable belay stance just above the grassy ledges.
Once off the grassy ledge and working up into the corner the quality of the rock deteriorates, and more vegetation is present. The second pitch is not easily protected, but is a rather short pitch. The placements that I found to the summit were not that trustworthy. From the belay stance work up a short face, and into the right facing book. I used two sm-md sized nuts, and I girth-hitched a “rock-pinched” horn… probably the most trusting protection point. The stopper placements were in somewhat loose rock, with earth and moss helping to hold it all together… truly “psycho-pro.” The second pitch is not difficult climbing, but because of the iffy protection is more of a run-out. The belay stance on top is easily anchored with the two hefty rap bolts in place.
Tim Olson in Portland Rock Climbs lists this as a 5.9/5.8 climb, but I do not recall that level of difficulty. The first bolted pitch is probably closer to a 5.7/5.8 rating at most. The second pitch I recall as being more like 5.6. In Nicholas Dodge’s route description, as described in A Climber’s Guide To Oregon, it’s listed as I-6-A-1. With the (assuming) A-1 section now bolted, and the “6” rating being the open-book section on the final pitch.
I have also read (I cannot recall the source) of a variation from the same start. After topping out on the bulge on the bolted pitch and reaching the grassy ledge, continue across the west face to the southwest corner of the pinnacle, and then turn left up the steep ridgeline. From this picture you can see some of the potential route, which appears to be of similar difficulty (5.6ish) as the primary route.
DescentOn the summit proper there are two good rap anchors that point you back down the ascent route. We used a two-rope rappel to reach the original fir tree belay stance. The fall line will drop you into the cut out bowl mentioned in the approach section, so you need to work to rappeller’s left on the descent to reach the tree.
Essential GearAs the climbing route consists of both sport and trad climbing terrain, carry several quickdraws, and plenty of webbing. Please do not leave behind bright colored webbing. The rack should consist of mostly small to medium sized nuts (6-8 pieces), and a couple of smaller sized cams. A hammer and pins are not required. A helmet is also recommended.
SourcesDodge, Nicholas A. A Climber’s Guide To Oregon. Mazamas, 1968. Touchstone Press, 1975.
Olson, Tim. Portland Rock Climbs. Sheridan Books 2001.