by We didn't write this

The needles are steep, jagged rock formations. They are 1000 feet tall at some points, and stick out precariously from an otherwise relativley flat rewood forests. The light grainte is covered in striking neon yellow and green lichen.

Mike and Sara on the Don Juan Wall.

The granite is very solid and is much less slick than Yosemite. A lot of rock is covered in patina and solid granite edges, very remenicient of Bishop. Some stretches of climbs are like 100 foot long versions of Green Wall Center, but of course, sans finger grease of every Bay Area foamback.

This weekend, we got to sample some Needles classics. To get introduced to the style of the area, we did an awesome 5 pitch 5.11 called “The Don Juan Wall” Here is Tara on a middle pitch.

Notice how she is completely backwards from the rock. This is one of the things I love about trad climbing. It requires crazy, f*cked up solutions to problems, and is often much more creative than yanking on the smallest crimp you can. As long as you accept that you may have to try your very hardest on 5.10, you will get to do some awesome stuff on route.

The highlight of the trip was the “Romantic Warrior.” On Sunday, Mike, Sara, Tara and I went up the route in a super fun 7 hour climb.

Romantic warrior takes the obvious dihedral in the back, right formation, and then tops out all three needles in the back

On the crux pitch, I navigated the thin, technical stem crux, held on for the pumpy mid section, clipped a pin, and ran it out to the anchors. Feeling pumped, I grabbed the highest hold in the crack and reached for the obvious jug ledge, ready to mantle and clip the chains. Turns out what looked like a ledge from below was actually a redpoint crux, a henious HorsePens 40 style mantle on big granite slopers.

I glanced down, and the my last piece, that old pin, was a good 10 feet below my feet, and below that, 400 feet of air. I instantly lost focus. A few deep breaths and shakes, I commited to the crux. Palming an akward gaston, I began to mantle, my high foot shaking in a siezure like motion. With the last of my effort, I lunged over the lip, only to come up short. I let out a scream, tumbled backwards, and screamed twice more flying down the wall. 30 feet lower, I dangled, sad because I blew the redpoint but overall feeling quite alive. These multipitch whippers are as important as they remind you that it is OK to go for it.

We finished the trip by climbing the classic “Ankles Away.” This super thin, technical seam can be climbed in a single, 70 meter pitch. I managed to onsight the route with only a handful of small cams and 4 wires on the rack. Exciting to say the least. Here is Mike, also onsighting.

My big theory about climbing is that your awesomeness as a rock climber relates directly with how little you look like a climber on the hike out. If you are a super badass and freesolo everything, you are up a wall in 3 hours and briskly jogging out, not looking like a climber at all. If you are walking out with a triple set of hexes, haggered and sunburned to hell, well…. you probably aren’t as good. Here is Tara rocking an ideal post climb look.

Stay classy my friends,