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Trad, 70 ft (21 m),
Avg: 3.4 from 51
FA: Dan Doody
> Custer SP
> Needles Eye Area
This is a fantastic route and good adventure value! It has crack and face climbing as well as a cool and airy "step across" move.
Follow the approach in the Gnomon rock description. At the base of the spire, follow it around to the left. Scramble up a gully to the NW face. When you are at a gently overhanging 30 ft crack, drop your pack. This is it!
The crack starts out finger size and quickly goes to bomber hands. About 2/3 way up the crack, one can finesse a traverse right on good feet. OR continue up the crack which widens.
Sling the horn at the top of the crack and scramble up the gully a bit. Find the best place to step across. This is a cool move and the holds good.
Meander up a bit. This is a bit spooky since the sling at the top of the crack is your last gear. The holds are good though a bit friable. Clip and back up the fixed pin to your left. Gently climb up to the ledge. Set some directionals. Climb the seam to the delight of the tourists and you're up. Unless you want to do a hanging belay, make sure to bring some cams (approx. #1-#3 friends) for the belay ledge. Sign the summit register (which I neglected to do).
The gear is adequate for a solid 5.8 climber. One must be solid w/ gear placements and the use of directional anchors.
I used a 7 & 9 hex for the initial crack. You might want to bring up to #4 friend if you follow the crack to the top (where gully starts), instead of traversing out 2/3 way up. A double length sling for the horn at the top of the crack. There's a fixed pin about 10' above the gully step-across. I backed this up w/ a medium size stopper to the left of the pin. This flake is a bit creaky. More creaky on the right side than the left. This is why I placed the stopper in the horizontal crack to the left of the pin. On the ledge above, directionals were placed for the seam above. These were a 3/8" - 1/2" cam and a 1-1/2 friend. The seam above took a blue alien and a small/med stopper but a tcu would have worked better than the stopper. Be careful about rope drag for this route. I placed numerous long slings and it wasn't a problem.