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.
If doing all three pitches to the summit, you can walk over, scramble some short 5th class and climb Yellow Brick Road or hike up and out the gully (5th class chimney at the top) between the Charlatan and the Magician. If just doing the first two pitches, rap from atop the second pitch with double ropes. You can also rap from the summit with doubles to make two double rope raps to the ground. Other beta sites don't make mention of this upper fixed rap station.
Single rack to 2" with a mix of draws and runners should suffice. Obviously if you are doing the enchainment as I suggest, you will have a more significant rack. Carry plenty of runners or even a few double shoulder lengths to tie off several key natural features on pitches 2 and 3. Love Potion faces SE and gets plenty of exposure to the sun, dress accordingly.
Interesting option to camping at the end of the road (which is nice, but no internet or phone service). I have friends (professional saddle makers) who live in Ponderosa, the small hamlet just one mile south of the Needles turnoff. They are one of the few full time residents and would like to offer climbers three options for accommodations. Cabins, trailer and/or tent sites. They own a beautiful private piece of land bordering the National Forest. Can prob figure out a hike to the Needles from there, I have not taken the time to do that yet. Bathrooms, internet, showers, fire pits, great company, etc. They already operate as a BnB and VRBO but will take campers as well.
They own that entire meadow!