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Spook Book

5.10+ R, Trad, 4 pitches,  Avg: 4 from 41 votes
FA: Kamps & Laeger - July, 1978
California > Southern Sierra > Needles / Kern… > Needles > Witch

Description

AKA "Welcome to the Needles."

Yet another beautiful, perfect route -- I think it's the Witch's analog to the Don Juan Wall: shorter, and perhaps easier, but more heart-pounding and intense. The crux pitch is one of the most exceptional corners I've ever climbed -- super technical, sustained, devious, and full of committing moves above fiddly gear.

P1: Begin at a small left-facing left-leaning loose-ish flake system. Place some uninspiring gear (I believe there's a shitty pin as well), then perform some committing moves up and right onto the face. A few desperate moves to a thank-God clip. A fall before this bolt would be at best violent and at worst catastrophic. Wander right, then back left and up to a second bolt (crux, 5.10a). Continue up to a crack and belay at a stance.

P2: Enter the long left-facing corner system. Climb this system at desperate, difficult 5.10. Belay at another obvious stance.

P3: Climb a short 5.8 pitch up an overhanging flake system. Do NOT link this into the next pitch (when things look really hard, stop).

P4: Climb the increasingly hard 5.10 dihedral. RPs and TCUs galore. A combination of jamming, palm smearing, and arete pinching will get you through the sustained 5.10+ crux. It is possible to run this pitch all the way to the top, or you can step right and belay for a short 5.8 summit pitch.

Descend north - see the Witch description for more info.

Protection

Double cams from TCUs through #1 Camalot. A single #2 Camalot. Wires & RPs. Quickdraws (no slings needed).

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Josh Janes and Greg Barnes on the crux pitch of Spook Book, Needles. Photo by Karin Wuhrmann.
[Hide Photo] Josh Janes and Greg Barnes on the crux pitch of Spook Book, Needles. Photo by Karin Wuhrmann.
Chris Brown on P1 of Spook Book, as taken from The Entity.
[Hide Photo] Chris Brown on P1 of Spook Book, as taken from The Entity.
Ian leads pitch 3 (5.10a) of Spook book.
[Hide Photo] Ian leads pitch 3 (5.10a) of Spook book.
Spook Book (5.10+) on the Witch takes the obvious left facing dihedral at the top left of the photo.
[Hide Photo] Spook Book (5.10+) on the Witch takes the obvious left facing dihedral at the top left of the photo.
There is a piton under the roof, then 2 bolts protect the face moves.
[Hide Photo] There is a piton under the roof, then 2 bolts protect the face moves.
John figuring out the crux section of the corner, where the crack peters out and you have to make a few delicate moves to a positive arete hold. There was a fixed nut and John also got in a black totem cam to protect the crux.
[Hide Photo] John figuring out the crux section of the corner, where the crack peters out and you have to make a few delicate moves to a positive arete hold. There was a fixed nut and John also got in a black t…
Pitch 3 (as per MP route description). We linked this with Pitch 2. This is the most moderate climbing on the route.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 3 (as per MP route description). We linked this with Pitch 2. This is the most moderate climbing on the route.
The awesome corner continues for Pitch 3. The gear is really good and this pitch involves thoughtful climbing that never seemed strenuous or spooky. A really fun pitch.
[Hide Photo] The awesome corner continues for Pitch 3. The gear is really good and this pitch involves thoughtful climbing that never seemed strenuous or spooky. A really fun pitch.
Pitch 2 of Spook Book follows the obvious corner in the center of the photo. This photo was taken while climbing The Sorcerer.
[Hide Photo] Pitch 2 of Spook Book follows the obvious corner in the center of the photo. This photo was taken while climbing The Sorcerer.
Spook Book - Looking down the first pitch.
[Hide Photo] Spook Book - Looking down the first pitch.
Preparing for pitch 4 (5.10+) of Spook Book.  This is a long pitch.
[Hide Photo] Preparing for pitch 4 (5.10+) of Spook Book. This is a long pitch.
Stein leads pitch 2 (5.10+) of Spook Book.  He took an upside down 30 footer when a microcam popped.  Lucky for him he had a helmet and Camelbak on.
[Hide Photo] Stein leads pitch 2 (5.10+) of Spook Book. He took an upside down 30 footer when a microcam popped. Lucky for him he had a helmet and Camelbak on.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Crack Addict
San Diego, CA
 
[Hide Comment] Pitches 2 and 3 can be linked together with a 60m rope. Have your head on straight for this one and bring plenty of wires and RPs. Jun 22, 2006
[Hide Comment] This climb struck me as fairly graded although getting to the bolt on P1 was harrowing. The book proper reminded me a lot of Devils Tower. Jun 25, 2006
1Eric Rhicard
Tucson
 
[Hide Comment] A great route with a very committing move to the bolt on the first pitch. The second bolt was added by another party. The new bolt protects a tricky move to the right. You are also a long way out and will probably get banged up if you blow the last moves getting to the first belay ledge. This was for our party the spook part of the book. It would be really exciting if 10+ was your limit. Jul 18, 2007
[Hide Comment] 10+ on A3 gear should keep your attention where it belongs. This was pretty close to my limit at the time and it sure had mine. Don't skimp on the brass. Aug 14, 2007
Kristian Solem
Monrovia, CA
[Hide Comment] Hi Eric - FYI Bob Kamp's contemporaneous notes from the FA have him placing the first bolt and Herb Laeger the second. On the first day,7-9-78, they ran out of time and traversed to Inner Sanctum to escape from about P3. Came back 7-15-78 and did the whole line. May 23, 2011
Aaron Cassebeer
Tehachapi, CA
  5.10+ R
[Hide Comment] P1 - The move to the first bolt is only ~5.9. It is mentally challenging, but not hard. The 5.10a section is after clipping the first bolt. Bolts are modern.

P2 - The definitive crux. Bring RP's or expect to run it out. Recommend linking Pitches 2 & 3.

We brought doubles to #2 Camalot with triples in the finger sizes, offset alloy and brass nuts, regular set of nuts.

This route lives up to its classic status. It is very safe (with the right gear), other than the move to the first bolt on P1. Get on it! Sep 9, 2013
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] I'd agree with the above comment that P2 is the crux. It's also the only pitch that really needs any amount of RPs (and you'll be fine with a single set...) The 'crux' pitch is pretty mellow, well protected enduro climbing with no distinct crux. (Despite what the description here would lead you to believe.)

Also, the fixed pin is gone and a good marker for where to belay after the 5.8 (besides 'when the climbing gets hard') is at the perfect foot ledge at the top of the flakes. Sep 28, 2014
Kristian Solem
Monrovia, CA
[Hide Comment] Long pitches work well.

P1: Up to the ledge at the start of the business.

P2: 190 ft. to the ledge on the little tower.

P3: Another long pitch to a belay on a keystone shaped chockstone.

P4: Scramble to the top. Jan 3, 2015
[Hide Comment] Impressions

P1 5.9 or 10- R to the first bolt. Move to the second bolt is semi impossible if you are short. For me at 6'2 it felt like a solid 5.10 at least to reach the holds on the right. No feet, got to heel hook and mantle
P2 5.11 solid trickery in one spot. Hope for fixed nuts here, if they are not there it will be mentally more challenging. Bring a single #2 cam which you can place in a good spot to protect the small traverse right. If you did it right, you can link this with the next pitch which felt 5.9ish.
P3 or 4 (the other corner), felt 5.10+ish, not harder but not much easier. Or can step out to the face and do some sick face climbing. Great climbing on this pitch. Protection is available, moves are fun etc etc. Awesome.
Last pitch to the top is fairly short and easy. 5.7 or 8 with lots of pro. May 26, 2015
Ted Baker
Fresno, CA
 
[Hide Comment] We did the first pitch by climbing up and clipping the first bolt on Wicked and then placing a small piece before walking over to the Spook Book second bolt on a rail. This added another bouldery move at that first bolt. Aug 3, 2015
Thomas Claiborne
North County of SD or Idyll…
  5.10+
[Hide Comment] IMO not R. The gear is good, albeit tiny for the majority of the P2. The moves getting to the bolt on P1 are 5.9 and are protected 10 - 12 ft below by a pin and a tiny, bomber nut. If you have any amount of thin face chops, as you should for P2, getting to the bolt should be comparatively trivial. Remember that the bolts were drilled from a stance by the FA team.

P3 is definitely a sandbag at 5.8. 5.10+ for the route seems fair. No standout stopper moves -- just sustained. Jun 18, 2018
Monica Jones
Bishop, CA
[Hide Comment] Great 2 pitch route with an 80m. We happened to have quadruples of finger sizes and it made it safe and fun. Ground to the top of the 5.8 part. From there to the top. Aug 1, 2018
Lucas Barth
Yosemite, CA
[Hide Comment] As of a few days ago there is a solid looking fixed pin before the first bolt. I guess it was gone for a while. I thought any gear that you could get below that was marginal so it was really nice to clip the pin. It can be done in 3 pitches with a 70m, which I think go at 10a, 10d, and 10c. Besides the first pitch having a bit of spice I thought the route was really well protected, single set of rps was fine, definitely C1 gear, not A3. Awesome climb, quite sustained and interesting moves throughout! Aug 11, 2018