me on threading the needle. photo credit: chen qun
Start by the sign next to the Needles Eye. Climb up into the needle, set gear where needed in the chimney. Stem, and climb up on the right side, there's two bolts. After the second bolt climb left to the top anchors on top of the shoulder to the right of the summit of the needles eye formation.
Variation: Instead of traversing left after coming out of the eye, climb straight up to the top of the higher summit. This variation brings the climbing into the 5.9 range and causes lots of rope drag. However, it is still a very good climb. A 30 meter rappel lands you on the trash can.
Note:Climb route when low amount of noise in the parking lot is available (not Sturgis week) because climber traverses where belayer can't see climber. Use a third person to spot if needed.
A great and classic route. just so your aware the final traverse is ballzy for the leader and second. The traverse when my brother climbed it was protected with a micro nut. Bring webbing for the top anchor to tie off the eye bolts, they stick out and you don't want to put extra force by threading the rope threw the eye of the bolt. A great climb and super fun.
Can you climb this and rap off and clean it on the rap down? Or does a follower need to clean it? I ask because I will be climbing with my wife who will not be able to climb a 5.8+. Thanks.
By Adam J. Clark From: Monroe, WA Sep 30, 2013 rating: 5.8+5b16VI-15HVS 4c
August '13 -
By Ryan Steel From: Twin Cities, MN Jun 4, 2014 rating: 5.8+5b16VI-15HVS 4c X
I just did this climb this past weekend, and I have to say that it really deserves the R or X addition to the rating. I know it's on the "Needles Eye" route rating, but the protection on this route is incredibly sketchy. Once you get beyond the bottom chimney and into the actual "eye" stem, you pretty much don't have any pro until you make it all the way to the first bolt, leaving quite a big gap between you and your last pro. Also, the rock is incredibly flaky, making the lack of pro all the more nerve-wrecking. After you get through the eye and onto the traverse and finish, the pro is also very sketchy, and at that point you can't really communicate with your belayer. Not to mention all the tourists, vans, and motorcycles, you practically can't communicate effectively with your belayer after you're in the eye itself. It's definitely a fun stem, and it's worth the cool picture of stemming the eye. But all in all, I wouldn't really recommend this route, unless you're really comfortable with very sketchy pro, flaky rock, and an inability to communicate well with your belayer. There are definitely a lot of better climbs in Custer that are more worth your time, in my opinion.
Ryan, it appears you are the only person (that has used the tick-list on this site) to have not given this route the satisfaction of being a classic and the only person to have given the route an X rating. Where on the climb does it feel like if you fall you would die? That is what an X rating means. If you are terrified and fecal matter is accumulating in your pants that would suggest an R rating or it would signify you are indeed in the Black Hills.