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Routes in Vertigo

A Clean Getaway T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Housing The Sin T 5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a
Trading War Stories S 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
Vertigo T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a PG13
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GPS: 43.848, -103.567 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: CURT LOVE on Jan 22, 2007
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty
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This little formation is is a great example of what's possible. The formation, climbing, everything about it is all there for you to vizualize and do, but still somehow it seems elusive, and rarely does it get climbed. I dreamed of doing ths route so many times. I went over and over it in my head. I would often think of what would happen if it got really hard and really scary, but these were just pre-thoughts and they don't really help. Once you get on it, it tells you right away whether it's the day or not. Pick a good day and have fun. If this is a route you've been wanting to do, then get out there and Just do it. Thanks to the folks who put it up. As for the folks who are no longer with us, may they rest in peace.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Vertigo

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a PG13
Trad 2 pitches
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
A Clean Getaway
Trad 2 pitches
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b
Trading War Stories
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a PG13 Trad 2 pitches
A Clean Getaway
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad 2 pitches
Trading War Stories
5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b Sport
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Kris Gorny    
PG13 with some iffy gear placements, 30 foot run-out, and only 15 or so ascents? I believe Vertigo is R/X. May 7, 2007
Hello Kris,
I don't mean to let the cat out of the bag on this one, but here goes. Vertigo is a pretty safe climb. Thirty foot run-outs are NOT common place on this route, in fact there is a ton of gear all over the route, most of which is bomber. The crux, both of them are protected well enough and the only big run-out is on easy terrain. I think this is one of the best routes I have done anywhere.It does have a reputation though and I think thats why people think its so scary. In my opinion the Rating R means serious potential for getting very hurt, X means certain death if a fall were to occur, PG-13 = big fall potential. I think with all the good gear we have today this is a safe route. The worst gear on it is the rurp, but 3ft below it is a double bolt set-up = good gear, second worse gear is the high pin, but below that you have many good pieces as well as above, also your way off the ground and if you were to fall there really is not much to hit, you could go big and be ok. I have done a lot of routes in the needles and have been in real danger before. Not once on Vertigo did I think to myself holyshit I am going to die. FYI as far as I can tell I was the 13 person to lead it, Although I am sure some people have done it without signing the register. I hope I am not coming of a s jerk by asking you this, but have you done this route Kris, or have you just HEARD about. I hope more people get out there and do this, of course people climbing this route need to have a good head and most of all want to do it. Have fun! May 7, 2007
Kris Gorny    
Er...well pointed criticism. No, I didn't do it. I would like to try it and so I did talk about it with Dave Groth who had done it and I just read an article about it in old R&I (that's why I actually checked out your description). I was just surprised with PG13 based on what I heard and read. Sorry, I should've made that clear. So I humbly back off. PG 13 that is. My hats off to you for the 13th ascent. I'll voice myself when or if I do it. May 7, 2007
David A Groth
David A Groth   Lacrosse
I did the 13th ascent or at least was the 13th one to sign the register.I would have to check my photos but think it was 98. I think Matt Samet did the 14th. It saw a long dry spell of few ascents. I broke the old pin on a previous attempt and drove the shitty blade to bail. Came back later and did it clean in colder conditions. I will weigh in to keep the R rating. I thought the gear by the roll on the upper part was not great and was committing moving out to the crack.
I am not into the down grading thing too much. I don't think it is super dangerous but does deserve an R!
It is a great route! Must do
Dave Groth May 8, 2007
I think you're probably right about your ascent being the 13th, for one I can count for #$@!, and it is hard to tell who actually climbed the thing or just did the jump over. I will also out of respect for the people coming to climb this thing agree with a R rating. After all it's totally possible to break your ankle during a big whip.

If you're in the mood to do this thing, you should go give it a try. You will find out for yourself what it's all about. Have fun and good luck. May 8, 2007
David A Groth
David A Groth   Lacrosse
Maybe with it should stay PG-13 it would see more traffic, your call!
I have a nice photo of climbing the route from Camps crack i will scan and add.
It is good to see people out doing this route either way it is super classic.
Have you done Larry's route spooky? I added it awhile back.

Dave Groth May 8, 2007
I think this climb is one of Herb and Jan Conn's. I also think it has seen more than 13 ascents. If you can check with Rusty Lewis or Neal Countryman, they have better historic information on this than I do. Neal never climbed it, but may know who has. I would suspect that Rusty and or Mike Lewis did this climb. Apr 22, 2008
Brent Kertzman
Black Hills, SD
Brent Kertzman   Black Hills, SD
Quote From: Roy Stahl, on 04-22-08
"I think this climb is one of Herb and Jan Conn's. I also think it has seen more than 13 ascents. If you can check with Rusty Lewis or Neal Countryman, they have better historic information on this than I do. Neal never climbed it, but may know who has. I would suspect that Rusty and or Mike Lewis did this climb."

The summit of Vertigo was first reached via rappel from Outer Outlet by John Reppy in 1958. The actual first fifth class ascent of Vertigo was climbed on July 19, 1979 by Kevin Bein, Barbara Devine, Bob Archbald, Jim Mullin, Mike Gotszche & Paul Muehl. All members of the F.A. party shared in the establishment of the route over a three day period.

In light of the fact the Conns did not own harnesses and down climbed everything, I do not believe they ever experienced the summit of Vertigo let alone claiming the F.A. None the less the F.A. of Vertigo was definately a high point in the history of rock climbing for the CSP Needles.

On another note: It seems to me like Matt Samet's article in Rock & Ice (X-Rated scrolled over a photo of himself climbing Vertigo on the front cover) seriously over-hyped the Needles experience much like any mainstream media would sensationalize their headlines to sell more copies. Apr 22, 2008
Some historical info on early Vertigo Ascents. This is from memory and first or second hand conversations. Agree that it isn't an R route. 5.11C PG13 sounds right (if the bolts & pins have been replaced). Surprising there hasn't been more activity over the past 20 years. It is one of the Needles classics. FWIW.

1st Ascent Kevin Bein, et al
This was really Kevin's show, he and Barb were grades ahead of anyone climbing in the Needles. Interesting that both of the bolts were drilled by first timers. (Kevin and Jim M.)

2nd Ascent Mark Hudon and Max Jones. 1979?
The legendary team of "Long, Hard, and Free", they had almost freed the Salathe. Used one rope & short slings and fought vicious rope drag.

3rd Ascent Kim Carrigan, et al 1980?
One of the world's top climbers, he took a long (50+ foot fall?) on the route, adding greatly to the route's intimidation factor. Heard 2nd hand that the fall was due to a super "relaxed" belay, and off-route climbing. Apparently the belayer said something along the lines of "he doesn't usually fall on 5.12". Which in 1980 was ....

4th Pete DeLanoy 1983?
Said he had overtrained for the route, doing hard right-to-left boulder traverses to prepare for the cruxes. Wasn't as difficult as expected. First Mortal Ascent : )

5th Ascent Christian Griffith 1985?
No falls, no drama.

6th Ascent Mark Jacobs 1985?
Fell on the first traverse, and broke the RURP sling.
Fell between the cruxes (snapped a hold) and pulled a nut (flake broke).
Fell on the crux traverse, and pulled the "bomber" nut left by Pete D.
Based on the fact that you could fall lots and rip gear, its safe.
Came back the next day to finish it. Sublime, fortress-like summit

7th Ascent Tim Toula 1986?
Belayed Tim, and he had phenominal endurance from a season of Tower climbing. Climbed around and mucked with pro forever. Looked like he could have downclimbed it. Following it was a different perspective than leading. Lower crux seem easier (11A) and the upper crux felt hard (11C/D). Apr 25, 2008
josh balt
Hill City South Dakota
josh balt   Hill City South Dakota
I finally did this climb after 8 years of contemplating. When I was 13 I read a article about it (Before I was even a climber!). I watched two friends climb it but never top roped it then yesterday grabbed my best buddy Tim and we climbed it together. It was so great.

I will stick my Curt’s beta for this. Keep in mind though that Curt and others who would call this pg13 are solid 5.12 climbers. What is pg13 for them may feel like R for you. I felt vary safe for the 2nd crux but I did feel scared right at the end of the 1st traverse….I was having trouble letting go to clip the pins that were at my waist, and I had a sudden realization that a fall with slack in my hand from right there could result in injury, but after a few deep breaths and fancy foot work I got em clipped and was fine. That said, all the worst falls including the one from the end of the 1st traverse have been taken and none of those people where injured.

Do the route if you have been wanting to, it’s worth it.

Josh Sep 13, 2010
Brent Kertzman
Black Hills, SD
Brent Kertzman   Black Hills, SD
FYI - The double 1/4" bolts were replaced in 2008 with a single 3/8" bolt making for a bit safer outing. Sep 13, 2010
Does anyone know any good training routes before attempting Vertigo? I have spent a week in the needles back in 2007 and onsighted "2 year plan" 5.11b with ease and started checking out Vertigo from the summit of 2 year plan. I have done a few of the other easier classics, but I am planning on heading out to the needles for a couple of weeks this fall to get used to the climbing again and hopefully psych up for an ascent. Jun 6, 2011
Brent Kertzman
Black Hills, SD
Brent Kertzman   Black Hills, SD
Some routes in the Needles to help with building up to Vertigo are:
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades 5.11, Farewell To Arms 5.11, Leaning Jowler 5.11+, Beau Visage 5.10R/X, Nocturnal Submissions 5.11-, Forked Tongue 5.11-X, Old Man's Face 5.11R, Bronchial Distress 5.10+ PG13, Honey I Shrank My Gnads 5.11R. I hope this helps. Later in the day the route goes into the shade. I lead the route with one fall about 20 years ago and felt it wrong to sign in. Never made it back for the red-point. Jun 7, 2011
Thanks Brent! That definitely helps. Jun 10, 2011
Some beta:
I was on the first ascent.
We used double ropes. The route takes two jogs to the left. With a single rope unless you use long runners, which will make falls more serious, rope drag will be rediculous. In addition double ropes avoid increasing fall distance when clipping. (Why we don't use double ropes on more serious climbs is a mystery)

Its a wonderful climb.
Jim Mullin Jun 4, 2013

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