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Curecanti Needle

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Curecanti Needle  


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Elevation: 7,800'
Location: 38.4496, -107.413 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 11,836
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: phil broscovak on Feb 27, 2008
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BETA PHOTO: Scan of lst known ascent info from peak register.

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Description 

Approximately 5 miles down river from the Blue Mesa Dam At the dual confluences of the East Fork of Little Blue Creek on the southern side and Curecanti Creek on the northern side with the Gunnison river stands the stately 700' three sided pyramid of the Curecanti Needle. The Needle is easily visible from the Pioneer Point overlook on the Black Mesa road.

Getting There 

Driving west on US Highway 50, go 7+ miles past the turn off to the Blue Mesa dam. The highway will make two big turns one to the left and one to the right after which it will head straight almost due west for 4+ miles. As the road takes a sweeping turn to the left, look for a turn off to the right at 50 E Rd. This is a portion of the original Highway 50. If you head down into Little Blue Creek Canyon, you have gone to far. Once on the turn off road, drive around to the far north side of the hill and park off the road. Do not head into the most obvious gully to your left. Rather, head in a NNE direction towards the Black Canyon. Stay on the highest ridge ground until very close to the rim. You should see a steep descent gully heading down almost due west. This approach will deposit you at the river directly across from the now impressively visible Curecanti Needle. Cross the river (not always easy to do) and hike up to the saddle between the South West Arete of Curecanti Needle and the adjoining ridge.

Climbing Season



Weather station 6.5 miles from here

3 Total Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',1],['5.9',1],['5.10',1],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Curecanti Needle:
Northwest Rib   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Trad, 4 pitches, 700'   
Browse More Classics in Curecanti Needle

Featured Route For Curecanti Needle
The classic pitches 3-4. Totally an awesome, 60m, ...

Northwest Rib 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c  CO : Gunnison : ... : Curecanti Needle
"Screw the Canyon Proper, this rock quality is the sh#t!" -Dirty Captain Meat Sauce.To access this phenomenal rib of Curecanti Needle, exit North onto CO 92 from W. US Hwy 50 (right if from Gunnison) cross over Blue Mesa Dam and drive about 7 miles west to Pioneer Point. Then exit left to Pioneer Point which is a senic overlook with an outhouse. Take Curecanti Creek Trail (right of outhouse and right from the Curecanti Trail sign) for about 1.5 miles. This can be a grueling march with kaya...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Curecanti Needle Slideshow Add Photo
E. Foster, just below the summit.
E. Foster, just below the summit.
Courtesy mygunnisonvalley.com
Courtesy mygunnisonvalley.com
Through there?
Through there?

Comments on Curecanti Needle Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 4, 2014
By phil broscovak
Feb 29, 2008
I have done 4 routes on this cool crag. I will try to dredge the memory banks and post up.
By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Feb 29, 2008
I remember doing a route that started on the down river side, and it wound its way around to the US 50 side then up a 5.9 crack. It was three pitches as I recall.
By YDPL8S
From: Santa Monica, Ca.
Feb 29, 2008
Yeah, Allen and Phil (4 routes Phil?), all I remember was a scramble up stuff that reminded me of the Maroon Bells and then a short roped pitch up a crack to the top....don't remember much more than that, I was pretty "peaceful" that day.

I think I did it with Jack Panek and a guy named Mark that used to work at the Alpine Mountaineer .... remember that store?

Allen, that crack was probably "old school" 5.7.
By phil broscovak
Mar 1, 2008
After more recall, it was actually 2 routes one done twice and one done with a variation. The best route was with Scottie on the eastern flank. I remember 3+ pitches of good climbing to the summit. The crux of which was a steep right facing dihedral that was really stout. It must have been hard, since Scotty took a winger off of it. Scotty always moved so fluidly that I was taken off guard and had too much slack in the system when he pitched. It was a longer fall than necessary. I would probably call it 10+/11-, and that would be old school. Scottie and I descended by downclimbing the south and western face. Scottie hated to rap. The other route went up the northern flank and had a sweet, left-facing dihedral that went at 5.8/5.9 or some such thing.
By Tom Griffiths
Apr 21, 2008
On September 16, 1975, two other park rangers (Don Hill and Brad Harriman) and I made an ascent of the Curecanti Needle by what we called the Northeast Ledges. We made our approach by small boat from the Morrow Point dam. We started a bit more around on the east side by a short moderate pitch (maybe 5.6), moved around to the right up through some ledges and trees, and finished up a short exposed ridge on the north side. There was room on the summit for only one person at a time. The initial pitch could have easily have been bypassed, making the climb quite easy.

According to the register, the last person to climb the needle before us was Vin Hoeman. He signed in as follows: J. Vin Hoeman, 5 June 1965. A.A.C. applicant. Member-Mountaineering Club of Alaska. Had to get here before water laps the base Climbed from corkscrew ledge to N. face + up after long walk in over Fitzgerald Mesa. (note: Vin was an inveterate mountaineer and peak bagger from the Colorado State Hikers Club and later, the Mountaineering Club of Alaska. He was the first to climb to the high point in all fifty states. He was killed in an avalanche on Dhaulgari in 1969).

Also, according to the peak register, the first recorded ascent of the needle was in 1932. It was recorded as follows: 3:00 PM * What a Thrill!! We the undersigned have on this 19th day of Nov. 1932 climbed this peak. (Sans Ropes) J. Boyd Pearson Robert Wilson Clyde B. Heer Philip J. Larnell? Walter Wagner See attached.

Also of interest in the summit register was this note: Currenti Needle 3000 ft. 775 ft. 18/7/54 West Ridge Route 15 pitons Class III+ Harvey T. Carter Don Sell Ray Northcutt (this is difficult to read - but looks like M&CarTC-CCMC Thunderstorm on the top. (note: the CCMC may be the Colorado College Mountain Club).

On the same day we rangers made our climb, Chuck Tolten, Gary Kocsis and Bob Dickerson, from Western State College, did the 2nd ascent of the West Ridge.

One further note: On July 25-26, 1976, Jimmy Newberry, Robert Stucklen, John Pearson, and Les Choy made the first known ascent of the west (or souhwest?) side of the needle. They were caught overnight on the climb and didn't finish until the morning of the 26th. They were reported overdue, and three rangers from Curecanti NRA were called out. The rangers scrambled up a gully west of the needle to a small saddle between the needle and the adjacent ridge to check on the condition of the climbers. A hugh rock was dislodged by the last climber as he topped out on the summit, which broke into multiple large pieces, falling all around the rangers. It was pure luck no one was hurt or killed.

The register was removed to the National Park Service archives, as dampness in the register was starting to deteriorate the contents.

Tom Griffiths
Kenai, Alaska
By phil broscovak
Apr 21, 2008
Tom thank you so very much for that wonderful piece of Gunnison climbing history. CHEERS TO YOU!

Do you have any more stories of those days? If you do please post them up.
By YDPL8S
From: Santa Monica, Ca.
Apr 22, 2008
Tom, what a cool historical comment! Chuck Tolton (proper spelling), Bob Dickerson, and Gary Kocsis are the guys that taught me to climb. I'm sure I'd have been with them that day, but I was serving my country in S. Korea at the time.
By coloradotomontana
Dec 24, 2008
Just posted a route description for the "northeast ledges". If anyone has any comments/suggestions for it, please contact me.
By Allen Hill
From: FIve Points, Colorado and Pine
Jun 11, 2010
What ever to Bob Dickerson? He was hardcore. I spent a afternoon at his house in Denver while he was doing his PHD at DU drinking beer on his front porch. Peter Thurston (my absolute role model, even grew the ponytail like his) took me along for the visit. What a great group of guys.
By YDPL8S
From: Santa Monica, Ca.
Jun 12, 2010
Bob is living in Arvada and working for a geological consulting company, mostly working in Nevada. He is the geology guide for several raft trips this summer for Western State, I'm thinking on the Green River, it's offered on the school website.

When the subject of Bob comes up, I have too many stories to tell. He is a very colorful character!
By matthew lloyd
From: Gunnison, Colorado
Aug 4, 2014
Wanted to point out some rappeling options: firstly, you can do this with two 60 meter ropes. The top rappel is pretty obvious and on top with two bolts with hangers and rings. The second rappel can be done with the three bolts that have cordelette running through them; but be warned, if the cordelette is not long enough to hang off the ledge and the rope is still on the ledge and not on the side; then you will rappel down and realize that your rope is stuck and you will have to prusik all the way back up the ropes you just rappeled from and replace the cordelette so that it is longer and hanging over the edge. The last bolt anchor is to the west of the second rappel. Just take your time and don't rush. Last time I was on this climb we got stuck on the rappel and got back to Gunnison around 4:30 in the morning. This could also be that we had to do all of this at night with one lighter for light and no moon.