Monday, April 27, 2009

Trip Report: Weavers Needle Backpacking/Climb

Date: April 24-25, 2009
Destination: Weavers Needle (Superstition Wilderness Arizona)
GPS: N 33.43 and W -111.37
Details: 4553' Tall. Technical rock climb to the summit...has been done without ropes by crazy people:) I am not one of them. Almost 4 miles exactly from the trail head to the summit with about 3600' of total elevation gain from the trail head. No drinkable water anywhere...

- Wore my Garmin 305 on this trip...Uploading it to Google Earth and viewing the hike in 3D Rocks! Next time though...I need to take it off the 3 second increments :) -

My longtime buddy Justin and I have been tossing around the idea of climbing Weavers Needle here in Arizona for 5-6 years. About 4 weeks ago he sent me a trip report with great pictures and details for the climb that someone else had recently put together. I hadn't really been serious about climbing for 7 years...but something clicked in me. I remembered how much that type of adventure meant to me...and for several days I could not get that climb out of my mind. I told Loree that I had decided I really wanted to get back into climbing (she shook her head and agreed after a lengthy look at the pros and then dusted off the old TRAD gear, tried on the harness, and checked out miserable condition of my old rope. Of course, getting back into climbing meant a few new purchases :) 60meter Rope, New Harness, and some Rock Shoes....let's just say my REI refund check should be pretty good this year. A few visits to the climbing gym, a morning of repelling at coon's bluff...reviewing my anchor building and multi-pitch climbing...I was ready to rock...mostly :)

We began the hike in at 1pm from the Peralta Trail head near Gold Canyon Arizona. It was cool to sign in to the registry for a destination of weavers climb/camp. We were on the trail head at 1pm. Temp was in the low 80's with some cloud cover...probably the last decent weekend here before it gets really toasty.

- Heading out from Peralta Trail Head -

- Looking back down Peralta Canyon -

- View of the Needle from Fremont Saddle...2 miles in 1400' elevation gain -

- Several comments made here..."we are climbing that and camping on the summit? Phreaking crazy" :) -

After a few minutes of break we headed down into the canyon. The trail here is misleading. It takes a sharp turn east towards "lone pine" lookout but eventually doubles back to the west side of the canyon. On the way down we saw 2 Gila monsters and 1 lost dutchman :) No kidding, we ran into a homeless guy living at pinon camp. He told us he had been there for 6 weeks and was on his way to Globe. He had no idea what trail he was on and looked about 70 years old. We gave him a few pointers about how to get out of the canyon there and out at least to Peralta Trail Head. He asked us where we were headed, and we told him we were going to climb the needle....then the foreshadowing...he told us that we would never make it up before it got dark :)

-Gila Monster...first one I have seen in the desert. -

We finally made it about "90" degrees to the West of the Needle and headed up. At this point it was about 4:30...meaning it took us 3 1/2 hours to cover the 3 1/2 miles...from the trail head to the turn. Slower than we thought.

-Let the bushwhacking begin...1 hour from here up the slope to the base of the climbing -

- 45 degree slog/scramble to where the climbing would begin -

- Finally at the ledge and gearing up - 5:30pm

- Combined the 1st 2 pitches into 1 long 180' ft pitch...about 10 ft left on my 60 meter rope...low class 5 climbing...made much more difficult with my pack on :) -

About the time Justin made it up this first long pitch, we realized that we had better get a move on this last few hundred feet of class 3/4 scrambling.

...About 200 feet from the top...8:30pm...class 3 scrambling becomes pee your pants scary in the dark :) Time to rope up and get to the summit. Funny...but this was a 10+ on the pucker factor scale...I think we named this spot "pee your pants ledge"

- This is my "I need to trad climb this last section in the dark" face...I was quiet for about 30 minutes while gathering my nerve to finish the climb :) Justin tried cracking some jokes which I appreciated...but didn't work so "type 2 fun" -

- Justin dropped his flashlight on the way up this last section...this is definitely my favorite picture of the entire trip -

9pm and we are finally on the Summit...setting up our sleeping area and reading through the summit log. My favorite entry was a story about killer ring tailed Lemurs and attacks at night. We had Mountain House Lasagna for it was killer good! The temp got down to the low 50's so it was a great night.

-5:30am Sunrise -

-Justin's "short bus" wave at the summit :) Amazing views!! I think he is still upset that I forgot the oatmeal packets :( we had our desert from dinner for breakfast...) Unforgivable! -

- My saggy muscle wave :)

- 7am - Geared up to head back down.

-1st Repel off the summit. No matter how many times I repel...that first step is always hard!

- 2nd Repel

- 1/2 way down to the bottom, I had to use some of the fixed gear to avoid having to scramble down with no is the pipe and bolt in the wall...

- 2 miles to the trail head...what an adventure!

- Our Great Friend Julia and her husband Jeff met us at Fremont saddle...they brought cold Root beer and sandwiches! Oh man, these guys are the best!!!!

2 more miles of hiking to get back to the trail head. This was a great way to get back into climbing. Lot's of "type 2" fun...where looking back it is much more fun than when actually doing it :) What would I do differently? 1 - reduce my trad rack by about 10 lbs...only really need some large slings and a few medium/large hexes and stoppers. 2 - remember breakfast. 3 - Get an early start and learn better rope management...trad climbing in the dark sucks!


  1. Holy Smokes; what a climb! Great Pictures and fabulous annotations! I look forward to keepin' in touch! Especially if I get to indulge in blogs like this one! Welcome to Blog Spot my friend!

  2. Wow that looks awesome. You’re always good for inspiration on how to have a good time. It crossed my mind that MT Hood is in my backyard. I may have to get it in gear and follow your example. I’m going to have to tuck that term “type 2 fun” away for future use. I think I’ve been with you more than once thinking that same thing without have a name for it.

  3. i'm jealous man. i dont think those pictures do the intensity of that climb justice. That's sweet that you finished it off in the dark.....i wish i could have been there. you should bring some of your gear to the Smith with us.

  4. Jill does not think I should venture off and do that, at least until I have climbed some smaller "needles". So you better include me in some plans. It looks like it "rocked".

  5. Lenny! you are such a stud! i am so proud of you and I am happy you came home to me alive & in one piece. I have a feeling WHAT'S NEXT is gonna be something even more daring and! I really am glad you and justin got to live this dream out! :) i love you!

  6. Pretty cool bro! I love the pic of you in the sleeping bag. You look like a giant caterpillar! :)

  7. Wow, looks like lots of fun and beautiful country, remeber you should be in bed by dark next time! I can't believe Loree let you do that after the ankle banger you did a few years back. Good thing you didn't have permission from your mom!

  8. Amazing.. That looks like daring stuff. It looks like it was perfect weather.

  9. You guys are crazy! Sounds like it was a fun (scary at times) trip. Thanks for blogging about it...and for getting Justin out there and keeping him young! Jody (Justin's Sister)