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Routes in Needle Rock

West Face T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13

Description

This iconic tower sits on the boundary of Telluride Ski Resort. If you've ever ridden Lift 8 (Oak Street), you've spied Needle Rock, which often has a pirate flag flying on its summit. It's a spectacular summit guarded by a long approach and a single pitch of climbing on low quality rock.

Getting There

There is a hard approach and an easy approach:

HARD APPROACH: if you're looking for exercise, start at the base of the gondola and slog up 1800 vertical feet on maintenance roads and ski runs to the top of lift 8 (bottom of lift 9). Then turn left (east) and bushwhack through the forest on occasional game trails to a ridgeline and the formation. This takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

EASY APPROACH: this approach avoids the uphill slog and traverses the ski mountain with only a couple hundred feet of up and down. Take the gondola from Telluride to the first stop (Station San Sophia), then hike down Telluride Trail to the end of the first switchback (where it intersects Lookout), then turn right and uphill and follow the rocky trail to the Plunge ski run. Traverse across Plunge and Bushwhacker, and continue into the forest on occasional game trails down to a gully then back up to a ridge that marks the boundary of the ski area. When you reach the ridge you'll see the formation. This sounds complicated, but it's all pretty straightforward, because you can see Needle Rock until you enter the forest. This approach takes about 45 minutes if you move with purpose.

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