Type: Trad, 5 pitches
FA: Ed Ehrenfeldt & Mike Pope, July 1976, FFA: Mike Waugh, Tony Yaniro & Randy Leavitt, 1981
Page Views: 18,696 total · 122/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jun 18, 2006
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Words cannot describe how amazing this route is.

P1: Take the same right-facing corner start as Thin Ice/Ice Pirates. Move the belay to the far left end of the ledge formed by the top of the flake. 5.9+

P2: The next two pitches follow the immaculate left-facing corner system. Climb a long finger crack with stemming and progressively harder moves. Belay at bolts. 5.11.

P3: Continue up the corner system. Again, 5.11.

P4: Climb up a lower angle face and corner with tricky gear, step left and belay on the face below the huge roof. 5.10.

P5: Undercling out the roof to the right, pull the roof, change corners, and continue to the summit. This is very physical and strenuous, but awesome. 5.11. It is also possible to escape left, but probably not as classic.

It's hard to say where the crux is. Physically, and according to the rating, the last pitch gets it, but we felt the technical cruxes were on P2 and P3. This route is rated easier than Atlantis, but the Atlantis crux is short and powerful. This climb is continuous and sustained and felt much harder.

Descend to the north; see the description for the Sorcerer for more details.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but a climb like this puts routes like Wunsch's Dihedral and The Naked Edge to shame.


Double set of cams from micro to 0.5 Camalot. A single 0.75 and #1 Camalot. Wires, larger RPs. Lots of quickdraws and a couple double-length slings.
The second pitch is sensational and extremely well protected. There are two options for pitch three: continuing straight up the corner, potentially baffling 10+, or stepping left into another corner/crack system at 5.11; I did only the former so can't recommend between them.

I thought the quality of the climbing deteriorated in the upper pitches. In other words, I did not feel DJ put The Naked Edge to shame. Jun 25, 2006
Scotty Nelson
Scotty Nelson   Boulder
I've only done the first 2 pitches of Don Juan, but they gassed me more than Atlantis. Jul 24, 2006
manuel rangel
manuel rangel   Arizona
I thought the last pitch was the crux. I was tired, and I had the rope get stuck when turning the roof in the crack. Had to downclimb and put a nut in to keep it from happening again. Feb 27, 2007
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
toddgordon Gordon   Joshua Tree, California
This is my favorite climb in the Needles. It is absolutely *****. May 15, 2007
I thought the 3rd pitch corner was the one with the trickiest gear. I did what I thought was the crux with a 00 alien just below my feet. After that, I luckily found two fixed stoppers just above me. Protecting the fourth pitch and the climbing itself was very enjoyable after that.
Thanks for the note Manuel, I placed a piece at the lip of the roof on the last pitch and it prevented the rope to get stuck. Jul 2, 2009
Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett   Michigan
Great route, the second pitch is probably the hardest, most sustained lead, and we thought the last pitch had the hardest single move.

We tried the 11c variation on the third pitch, the climbing was worthwhile but it felt pretty contrived. It also would be pretty runout if it weren't for the fixed heads. I would recommend the normal 10d 3rd pitch.

-Scott Jul 9, 2009
Kristian Solem
Monrovia, CA
Kristian Solem   Monrovia, CA
On 7-25-09 I replaced the belay anchors at the top of P3 and P4. Original 1/4"x1" bolts were cleanly removed and replaced with 1/2" 5 piece powers anchors and Fixe ring hangers. Special thanks to ASCA for the gear.

The old anchor atop P4 had two 1/4" bolts about 5 feet apart backed up to an old thin pin in a flake about 5 feet above. I replaced the right hand bolt by redrilling the same hole, added a second anchor the proper distance to it's left, and left the remaining antiques in place for "atmosphere."

The anchors on P1 and 2 are not original. Each has one 3/8 buttonhead and one 5 piece type bolt also 3/8", equipped with rings. Jul 27, 2009
J. Albers
J. Albers   Colorado
Thanks for the time and effort Kris. Dec 18, 2009
Beautiful route. Beautiful place. I was just reliving this climb and thought I would offer this video up as a reminder of how good the whipper is at the crux. I am sure there are many of us who have taken it. vimeo.com/15534954 Sep 12, 2011
Dr. Crushenstein
Ogden, Ut
Dr. Crushenstein   Ogden, Ut
Awesome video! Pretty much the same thing that happened to my onsight attempt. At least the bird that lives in that hand jam was nice enough to stay out of your way. May 24, 2012
Mr. Stevens
Boulder, CO
Mr. Stevens   Boulder, CO
The third pitch was one of the best leads I've ever done. Amazing granite trickery. The 4th pitch has great gear, p.3 is definitely thin. Jun 29, 2013
Dustin Stephens
Dustin Stephens  
fantastic route. pitches 3 and 4 (10+) link easily. beware the inevitable rope-in-the-crack hassle on the final 11a pitch, consider using nuts to keep it out of the 2 obvious constrictions Jul 8, 2013
Mojave, CA
ACassebeer   Mojave, CA
It was nice to have triples in finger size cams, although not totally necessary. Whereas Atlantis is bouldery and commiting, this route is sustained 5.10+ and keeps you engaged the whole way. There's only 15 feet of 5.11 climbing on the route. Sep 9, 2013
Amazing. I placed several bomber small offset nuts on pitch 2, and it was comfortable to have doubles of .75 and #1 camalots. Aug 25, 2014
Anders   Berkeley
I tried to rope solo this a few days ago which meant that I had to climb every pitch twice. My system didn't work super well so I ended up French freeing most of it and then rapping and climbing it on traction. And I must say, DAMN this thing is fucking sustained!!! I was annihilated at the end. Literally. Maybe no single move is super hard but because of attrition is felt like 11+. And that third pitch is devious as hell! Harder than the second IMHO. Serious kudos to whomever can climb this one clean. Sep 6, 2014
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
Max Tepfer   Bend, OR
Pitches feel pretty short (like on a lot of Needles climbs...) Linking 2 and 3 eliminates a semi-hanging stance and makes the pitch length feel a little more normal. Also, no brass necessary and the 'difficult to protect' 5.10 on pitch 4 protected easily. Gear wasn't always at your chest when you wanted it there, but it was never unsafe or devious. Sep 26, 2014
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
Would recommend linking 3+4 over 2+3 (unless crux doesn't faze you).

If there is a (slow) party on Thin Ice, the direct start to Don Juan goes fairly reasonably. Pro is a little funky getting to the big flake, I clipped the second bolt or so on tradewinds. Pro is also a little weird once in the flake but it's pretty secure. So anyway, if you just can't wait, it goes. Oct 20, 2015
Josh Janes

Josh Janes    
I agree with Max: link 2&3 and skip the only hanging belay. You could also easily and naturally link 4&5 (the 5.10 pitch into the direct, 5.11 finish), though I haven't done this latter link. Oct 21, 2015
I fully agree with Todd Gordon! Oh wait...I was there with him! And I've climbed the route at least 6 more times since. On my top-ten favorite routes list for sure! Dec 8, 2015
Justin Skaare   CO
We didn't look at a topo or read a rout description and assumed the climbed went through the off-width for the final pitch. You need probably need a #5 or more likely a #6 C4 to adequately protect it. Oct 24, 2016
Lucas Barth
Yosemite, CA
Lucas Barth   Yosemite, CA
Rack recommendation is spot on, except I would also bring double .75 camalot. Jul 8, 2018