Ascent of Needle Peak on 2017-09-21

Climber: Seb Kraemer

Date:Thursday, September 21, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Needle Peak
    Location:Canada-British Columbia
    Elevation:6857 ft / 2090 m

Ascent Trip Report

I parked at the gravel parking lot on the same (south) side of the highway, and started the hike southwest up the ridge. The first 1.5km through the forest was beautiful but quite steep, (30% avg grade from the trailhead to km 1.5) but after that the hike flattened out considerably as I approached Needle on the ridge. Once above the treeline the summit of Needle could be clearly seen rising above an impressive blocky ridge and forested valley. Eventually I could see the entire ridge connecting to Markhor Peak. After a couple of alternating rising/flat sections, I came to a cairn marking the fork where one can continue left (and up) to Needle along the ridge above the bowl, or right and down into some trees to hike the ridge across to the Flatiron. I would do the latter after summiting Needle.

At this point I was making tracks in the snow, which was some 2-3cm deep, though slowly melting in the sunshine. This trail ascending to the summit is a bit indistinct, so route-finding skills are useful as there are sometimes exposures on both sides if you go astray. There were two scrambles (YDS 3) heading up to the summit of Needle. The first one was the crux, with an exposed slope hanging over the bowl that I dared not attempt due to verglas. I ended up staying to the right at this point and finding an awkward but safer way up just around the corner after some searching. The second scramble was actually a short climb but not being exposed it wasn't much trouble. Just a climb up between two large boulders. The last few tens of metres to the summit I had to take carefully as the footing was uneven and slippery but there was plenty of rock to hold on to. Just took it slow. Finally let out a big whoop as this was the toughest summit I'd ever done, mostly thanks to the snow and ice. Took in some fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the toy-sized Coq down below. The south face of Yak Peak in particular looks quite impressive from up here.

After finding my way back down to the Flatiron trailhead, I rested and had some food and drink. It was warmer and far less windy down here. The hike to the tarn beneath the Flatiron summit was along an easy and well-defined trail through subalpine forest. It's a picturesque little lake with a somewhat dramatic, sleek rock face behind it. If you turn around to look at Needle, it takes on a particularly pleasing shape from this angle. From the tarn, the trail is pretty half-assed going up to the summit, but it can be followed easily enough. A few simple scramble moves and you'll be there. The summit is a bit underwhelming, but the rock formations in this area are really interesting, and the view of the plateau/spur to the southeast is very nice.

Back out the way I initially came up to the rest area.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3140 ft / 957 m
    Total Elevation Loss:902 ft / 274 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4 mi / 6.5 km
    Grade/Class:YDS 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Cold, Very Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3140 ft / 957 m
    Distance:3.1 mi / 5 km
    Route:Needle Peak Trail
    Start Trailhead:Zopkios Rest Area  3717 ft / 1132 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:902 ft / 274 m
    Distance:0.9 mi / 1.5 km
    End Trailhead:5955 ft / 1815 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Needle Peak (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Needle Peak2017-09-213140 ft / 957 m
2The Flatiron2017-09-21764 ft / 233 m
Total Trip Gain: 3904 ft / 1190 m    Total Trip Loss: 3691 ft / 1125 m

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