Ascent of Milford Needle South on 2020-06-13

Climber: Richard Hensley

Others in Party:Desert Rat
Laura Newman
Todd Passey (Guide)
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, June 13, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Milford Needle South
    Elevation:9582 ft / 2920 m

Ascent Trip Report

From the open area near the end of the road, we followed an opening that led us into the ravine going toward Granite Pk. After a couple hundred feet, the opening ended and we followed the ravine a little ways. Not so bad so far.

After 1/4 mile, we started up the east side of the ravine. We were hoping to hit more open terrain. It never happened. Much is made of the bushwhacking on this mountain. I have been in far denser brush than this. Still, the brush is relentless; it rarely lets you get far before you're tangling with it again. But I think it is the nature of the terrain, in combination with the brush, that makes this so difficult. The slope was frequently steep; large rocks or outcrops to avoid; deadfall; up and down; in and out of deeply cut side ravines. We seemed to fight for every 10 ft of progress. I imagined myself in an 1800's expedition to Mt. Roraima. The next mile, where the slope up to Granite Pk began, took us 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Granite Pk was now only 0.7 mile away. But 1400 ft up. And still there was brush, deadfall, etc. But now add steep loose dirt or granitic sand. It opened up the higher we got. But that sometimes left us without any "vegetation belays" to hold onto our hard-fought elevation. The last few hundred feet, the only way up was through steep loose chutes between the dominant granite formations. This 0.7 mile took another 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Getting over to near the highpoint was routine. Then the climbing gear came on. As noted in a previous report, the scariest part was descending the first granite boulder to reach the chockstone. It started as a broad rounded top that narrowed to a sharp inverted "V" as it got steeper. We were on a rope, but a slip over the side would not have been fun. Then Todd went over our instructions for the climb. This was especially important since winds 30mph gusting to 40 would prevent any communication from the top. See Carey's report for what this looks like. Todd made the climb, then belayed us up one at a time. The three of us struggled on the ascenders. It was made more difficult by the wind blowing away the loops whenever a foot came out. But we all made it up, and touched the HP of the Mineral Mountains. Todd rappelled down, and we reversed the process back to safe ground. This part took almost 3 1/2 hours.

Back to Granite Peak and down the chutes. This time we didn't mess around with the sidehilling, and went straight down to the ravine. Then again, it's easier to bushwhack and slide going downhill. Still it took about 1 3/4 hours to reach the stream. We again started along the east slope, but this time much lower and in sight of the bottom. In 20 minutes we found an opening down to creekside that looked promising, and went for it. There we found a weak use trail, occasionally hard to follow, that continued the rest of the way down. This is the point marked "TRAIL" on my gps track. The last 0.6 mile was easy. This same distance, without the trail, took us an hour coming up.

The entire trek took us 11 hours, including generous breaks. One of the most exhausting days of my life.


1st 0.6 mile, stay on the faint trail near the east side of the creek. I doubt that it went much farther. I can't say there is any best route up the slope. You do need to aim a little left (east) of the Granite Pk summit, to avoid cliffs. Due to signals bouncing off the granite, there is likely some error in my gps track, especially near the top. There is nothing certain about my track up there.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2931 ft / 892 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2931 ft / 892 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.7 mi / 6 km
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Aid Climb
    Gear Used:
Rope, Guide
    Weather:Very Windy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2790 ft / 850 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2374 ft / 724 m; Extra: 416 ft / 126m
    Loss on way in:416 ft / 126 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:NE basin to Granite Pk
    Start Trailhead:38.40161,-112.80794  7208 ft / 2196 m
    Time:4 Hours 26 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2515 ft / 766 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2374 ft / 724 m; Extra: 141 ft / 42m
    Gain on way out:141 ft / 42 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.9 km
    End Trailhead:38.40161,-112.80794  7208 ft / 2196 m
    Time:4 Hours 3 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Hensley
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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