me on threading the needle. photo credit: chen qun
This rock has a highway named after it, and it is paved right to the base. Every route on this formation is extremely bold with massive ground fall potential. Do not plan on climbing this during the day in tourist season. Hordes of tourists will swarm the base. Although, maybe a ground fall might land you on top of a tourist bus. Climb this in the spring or fall and early or late in the day.
Many famous photos show people stemming up the middle of the eye. However, the most popular route now seems to be a 5.10 route that starts directly from the parking lot. To descend, rappel from fixed anchors using two ropes to the ground.
This rock is the main attraction of the Needles Eye area. The approach is stepping out of the car and grabbing the first holds. The crux of the approach may very well be fielding all sorts of tourists' questions.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Needle's Eye:
One of the Needles classics, you can't leave here without climbing it. But, it is serious and if you are not very comfortable leading 5.9, you might want to wait.P1: Start down the hill from the parking lot in the eye. Chimney up to the right and face climb to the arete. You might be able to get a stopper in for protection before you start face climbing. Wrap a runner around the knob and belay. P2: Head straight up on knobs, using the left edge to counter-balance. There is no pro for 25' until y...[more]Browse More Classics in SD
One 60m will get you to the parking lot with a couple inches to spare. Although the tourist season sucks when you are on the ground, it can be amusing when you are climbing. I felt like Sharma at a climbing comp when I got a standing ovation from the Sturgis croud after climbing the eye.
Years ago a gentleman's agreement was made with Custer State Park from the climber's to NOT climb routes that start in the Needles Eye Parking between the hours of 10am to 5 pm between Memorial day weekend to Labor Day weekend. The park was getting concerned about the traffic congestion. They were even considering closing this area (the Needles Eye area) to climbing altogether. But we had conversations with the park and this agreement came to be. Well no signage was place, but they left it up to the locals to tell traveling climbers about the agreement. The climber that were around then are mostly gone now either resposibilities keep them away or they regretfully have passed away.
It is a lot more pleasant to climb those routes without the traffic anyways. Especially during the first full week of August when it's the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
Also when you do the Needles Eye be careful when throwing your rope down so you do not hit people or cars. Years ago a rear window was broken out of a vehicle from a rope coming down.
OK Bob. I was unaware of that agreement. As someone who likes to visit the Needle's and the Tower I would hate to see any restrictions imposed. You are right about watching the ropes. I had to wait a half hour for the group of cycles to move from below the route before I pulled the rope.
Things just get lost with time. As time goes by the little things or even some of the big things get lost. There are only a few of us left from when the Agreement happened. Is someone around that can truly remember how Ceaser(SP) really ruled Rome. That is what has happened around here. Even though a few of us do try to remind people of it or educate them courteously about it.
I had not really thought it over and did not know of this agreement, but congestion aside, its still a bad idea, though we waited until everyone had left- more came. We discovered that even if you do this route late in the day when not many people are around, you still have problems... It's pretty surprising. In Boulder people do not pay much mind to climbers, but in the Needles it's an incredible attraction. People kinda swarm your belayer, unaware that they might cause problems or be a bad kind of distraction. It is for our own safety as well that weekends might be a good time to avoid this thing.
That said- good route, heads up, better for the solid-headed leaders.
A friend of mine was recently climbing "Threading the Needle". Instead of traversing left at the 2nd bolt she said she went straight up past a bolt to the top of the formation. Does anyone know what route she was on? She wasn't sure of a grade due to the runout and being a little freaked, maybe 5.9+/.10.
To tell you the truth, I too did the same thing, went straight up. The climb straight up felt like a 5.9+ to me. The rock is kinda crappy there because water runs down the dark seam that you have to climb up and also I'm sure there isn't a lot of traffic. The section however can be protected with a medium sized stopper, don't quote me but I think I used a #7.