North Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.72450°N / 107.54980°E
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.7 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 1
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


This un-published (as far as I know) route info, so there may be others who wish to contribute to this page upon its completion. This adventurous climb involves climbing scary, loose, highly fractured basalt with somewhat questionable placements, and 3 "anchors" (2 pitons and a bolt), plus a mystery bolt near the top, and a solid rap anchor. After the trad portion of the climbing is over, there is some 3rd class, steep loose scrambling to be done to reach the top of the peak. It is best to not have people below you at the base of the rock due to its plethora of loose rock on top. Helmets are necessary.

Getting There

From the TH (see Needle Rock page), hike WNW up the steep but clear trail until you are due north of the massif. Pick the shortest line possible through the Gambel oak to minimize scratching. The climber's trail is visible at this point, directly below the NE pillar. The talus is fairly stable, but the scree not so much. I recommend pants to keep the scratching down, and boots that cover your ankles to keep the scree/dirt out. The route seems obvious when you get to the base of the rock. Approx. 50' west of the horizontal hexagonal columns, the route begins on the easy 4th class relatively solid blocks, about 20' before the slope drops away dramatically on the NW corner of the massif.

Route Description

I built a 2-piece anchor about 10' away from the 4th class blocks at the bottom of the route. The 4th class section is about 20' in length, and we were able to get a #1 cam in on a 4' runner on the right in a downward-facing crack. The next series of moves are in the 5.4-5.5 range, and continue to a piton with white webbing on your left hand side as you climb. The climbing continues to be around 5.4 and goes another 8' or so until you reach a bolt, also on the climber's left. From here, the climbing gets a bit harder, about 5.6, until the route traverses left below the last piton, which is about 6' above the traverse. If you are using double ropes, you can clip this piton, and then downclimb 2 moves to traverse left, but you will increase drag. We didn't see any good natural placement opportunities here. Above the last piton (not the recommended route), the gully chokes down and gets significantly harder on lichen covered rocks with little protection available (i.e. none). The traverse is the technically most difficult part of the climb, about 5.7, with (for me) mental factors contributing to make it harder. Most of the rock in this area is frighteningly loose and hollow-sounding. Once in the left soft-dihedral, the climbing and angle relents, easing to around 5.3, and continues up through a few small bushes to the right. Aaron placed a .5 cam in a solid crack just above the crux (traverse), just below the bushes. The dihedral turns more into a gully, and then left to a large boulder. This is the best place for a belay station - large, comfortable, and safe. Aaron protected himself just below this area with a red Tri-cam (#1?). This pitch is about 130' in length. From the belay, the single bolt (rap anchor?) is about 20' vertically below. The traverse to the NE pinnacle/summit saddle is mostly 3+/4- with lots of loose debris and smaller rocks. You can clearly see the double bolt rap anchor on the NW face of the NE pinnacle. It is only 2+ to walk over to it, but a fall here would be terminal. From the saddle, it is a fairly easy 3rd class scramble to the top of the summit, which is comprised of many larger pieces of shattered basalt. It is about 80' vertically from the saddle to the summit.

Essential Gear

Helmets. We used half ropes. Smaller cams (nothing bigger than a #2), some smaller tri-cams, runners, and slings. There might be a few spots for nuts, but nothing great. I used a small nut and a #1 cam to build my belay anchor at the bottom.


We did not climb the NE pinnacle, but obviously someone has - there is a decent sized cairn on top. I also did not traverse to the SE "sub-summit", as I was sketched out enough. A saddle leads to it atop lots of loose, broken rock. To the direct east of the summit, the "Brady Gulch"/"NE Gully" route comes up - 5.2R (no beta). The 5.11+ 4-5 pitch SW arete route tops out on the scary, loose, overhanging summit ridge, and all routes end with a rappel down the NE pillar rap station. First ascent of Needle Rock was in 1921, by Ward Ruble, age 15, up the Brady Gulch route. I believe this rock has seen fewer than 100 ascents total.



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