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Ascent of Spanish Needle on 2012-05-28

Climber: Daryn Dodge

Date:Monday, May 28, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Spanish Needle
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:7841 ft / 2389 m

Ascent Trip Report

We first tried to approach the peak via the 9-Mile Road, but the road had washed out last year near the turn off into the Chimney Peak Wilderness. So we decided on an eastern approach with quite a bit more gain.

From Hwy 395, we drove 3.1 miles to the end of Sand Canyon and the trailhead. The Sand Canyon turnoff is south of Pearsonville 1-2 miles or so. We followed the old road to Rodecker Flat where it became more difficult to follow. Rodecker Flat is full of Joshua Trees. Heading up the south fork, the road became more of a use trail, then disappeared altogether as the canyon turned more west. We mostly followed an animal trail through the brush side-hilling in sand above the wash on the north side. Eventually we came to steep slabs of decomposed granite that forced us down into the gully. The bouldery gully at this point was just clear enough of brush so we could hike it for about half a mile to an obvious chute on the left (SW) at an elevation of 6000 ft.

We climbed up this chute of rather loose talus for about 800 feet to ducks on the left side that led us out of the chute we were in. We then began a side-hilling traverse up and across the face of the Sierra Crest towards Spanish Needle. We followed occasional ducks for awhile until we got to a ridge above a chute we obviously could not cross. From the ridge, I we got our first view of the Spanish Needle summit to our right. We went straight up to the crest, then began a class 2-3 scramble on the crest towards the peak.

At the base of the peak, I first checked out the class 3-4 chimney on the west side of the crest. Not too difficult for those that like rock climbing. Actually quite enjoyable. But Stephanie wanted to climb the peak via the class 3 fraction pitch just to the east of the crest. Steph put on her rock shoes for this portion. My boots held fine on the friction slope, but I sure don't want to attempt it if the rock is wet. The final obstacle was a short jump, or step, across (class 3) to the summit block.

We used Steph's GPS twice in two important spots; one marked the summit (can't be seen for most of the climb), and the other marked where we left the talus chute to begin the traverse.

This route was quite challenging compared to other approaches to this peak, although we managed to find a nice route with little whacking of brush. A long, difficult day, but we really felt like we had navigated a route few others have done.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4800 ft / 1462 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:12.4 mi / 20 km
    Route:Rodecker Flat approach
    Trailhead:Sand Canyon Trailhead  3241 ft / 987 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:14 Hours 



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