Hermit Spire is a beautiful, solitary Sierra granite spire to the north of the Needles proper.
Whatever has been said about the Needles applies to Hermit Spire except maybe for the crowds. Plenty of routes slipping into obscurity as the old bolts rust, the pins fall out, and the webbing fades. Beautiful views of the Needles, Kern River drainage and Mount Whitney compete with the piercing whistles of humming birds and annoying buzz of flying insects.
The east, south and west faces present quality routes from one pitch up to 7-8 pitches and 650 feet of elevation gain. The North Ridge is a fine, low 5th class scramble, reminiscent of the walk off of the Witch and should be used as the descent for routes reaching the summit.
The out of print 1992 Needles guide book by Greg Vernon is a great resource: ISBN 0-934641-43-9
Please strictly practice LEAVE NO TRACE and keep this area wild and pristine. Pack out all trash including toilet paper and feminine hygiene waste. No camp fires are allowed in this area.
Hermit Spire is about an hour drive from the trail head parking lot and main camp ground at the Needles. Most of the drive can be negotiated by any car that can make it to the Needles. The final mile requires high clearance and 4-wheel drive is a good idea.
Consider bringing a good bow saw, a come-a-long (a type of hand operated winch) and a shovel just in case a dead fall traps you up there. Please drive slowly on the narrow winding roads, it might surprise you to find others using the road - wildlife, hippies, hikers, bikers, horses and pickups hauling horse trailers.
Head North on the Western Divide Highway - Hwy 190 from the Ponderosa Lodge or from the Needles forest road 21S05 - Hwy 190 intersection.
Just past the Quaking Aspen forest service camp ground on the west side of Hwy 190, turn East (right) on the paved Forest Route 21S50. This winds uphill for about 4.5 miles to the intersection with Forest Route 20S79.
Turn north (right) onto Forest Route 20S79. Go about 2.1 miles on this dirt road until you reach Forest Route 20S53A.
Turn east (right) onto Forest Route 20S53A. Follow this for 0.75 miles, passing the Golden Trout Pack Station, to Forest Route 20S79B (See photo).
This is as far as most passenger cars can go. If you decide to start hiking from here, there is a nice pull off on the north side (left) near here or park at the end of 20S53A an additional 0.35 miles down the road. There are pit toilets here.
If you have a robust vehicle or mountain bikes, follow Forest Route 20S79B south for about 0.60 miles. When the bushes close in and the road starts heading down hill, you have gone to far. Look south for a large stack of logs (see photo). Approximate coordinates: 118.5173 West / 36.1753 North / 7925 Elevation. Park off the road here and check out the new scratches in your car's shiny paint job.
Hike south along a very faint trail about 0.5 miles on a bearing 170 degrees from true north, staying just west (right) of a meadow going up hill all the way to the Spire. The route is marked with cairns often on top of tree stumps and large timber rattlers. A 450 feet of elevation gain that should take about 30-45 minutes.
P1, (160 feet) Start in a corner with a nice, steep 5.8 double crack system to get you to a sloping ledge 15-20 feet up on your right. Walk up the ledge to another corner that goes left, with a chimney above that. Start out face climbing and stemming nice rock with fun moves, then commit higher up to the squeeze chimney, eventually opening to bombay at the top. Prepare to feel stuck, get dirty climbing through ferns, and wish you had a bit more pro. A strenuous pitch. 5.8P2, (100 feet) You need ...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
Well, Dag nabbit and d@%*&$%m those internet posting polecats, Jed! Can't have them varmints stinkin' up the place now can we? Hello, Hermit Spire and the Needles have been common knowledge since Beckey wrote it up in the 70/80s and numerous articles, guidebooks, and Chouinard catalogs have further popularized the area. With 6.5 billion people on the planet someone's bound to frequent your favorite restaurant, swimming hole, or crag. Get over it.