Type: Trad, 500 ft, 3 pitches, Grade II
FA: Fred Beckey, David Black, Steve Eddy, 10/74
Page Views: 9,040 total · 58/month
Shared By: Scotty Nelson on Jul 24, 2006
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

63 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


Pitch 1: either climb directly up the crack, or start to the right. Up the crack then surmount a small roof and through a tricky face crux (bolt). Belay in a groove (200 feet).

Pitch 2: Up the groove then move left past a roof and belay on a ledge (150 feet?)

Pitch 3: short pitch up and off.


Starts just right of Spook Book.


Standard rack to #3 camalot is sufficient.
I climbed this route over the weekend and didn't see any bolt protecting the tricky face crux. Did I miss something? A bolt would have been nice, cause it was a bit scary without it. Otherwise, nice route but not of the quality of Igor Unchained. Jul 16, 2007
The bolt ( if still there ), is under the roof on pitch 1, not above. Jul 16, 2007
1Eric Rhicard
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
Did this route in June. The bolt is below the roof and doesn't protect the harder moves. Small nuts can be found above. If you move left above the roof it is easier than going right. This route is worth doing and was a good warm up. Jul 18, 2007
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
We climbed it by going up and right above the roof, which feels pretty committing. Your gear are some thin wires in a left leaning crack and, even with a sling on them, climbing up and right just feels like it's going to pull them out. It's pretty solid 5.9+ face though. Like most things, not too bad once you actually commit to it. Aug 24, 2009
Will S
Joshua Tree
  5.9+ PG13
Will S   Joshua Tree
  5.9+ PG13
Less than obvious routefinding at the crux regardless whether you go right or left. I stood on a stance above the roof and went up and down, left and right a few times before committing. It's not just a left/right decision, it's also a "do I want my hands or my feet on this rail/feature". Feels a little spicy with slopey/smeary moves above small wires. P2 is a supercool feature and the gem of the route. And yeah, bolt is still there...but not really needed IMO, I clipped it but ended up backing it up maybe 2ft above...rusty 1/4" with a Leeper IIRC. Jul 14, 2010
The bolt looks pretty bad (I didn't even bother clipping it) though I don't think it should be replaced. You can get a solid mid-sized nut just above it.

I placed a couple of nuts above the roof in the crack, slung them long, and stepped out right to work my way up, which didn't seem all that difficult. 15 or 20' above the nuts, I slung a big black knob which added at least a little mental pro.

The rest of the route is casual and no harder than 5.7 or 5.8. Aug 30, 2010
Kristian Solem
Monrovia, CA
Kristian Solem   Monrovia, CA
The bolt was placed by Herb Laeger in 1976. His personal diaries list the FA of Inner Sanctum ("Named after an old television horror serial") as Herb Laeger, Mike Jaffe, Eve Uiga 12 July 1976. They graded it 5.8 at the time. On this ascent the first belay was at the bolt with some gear too.

Becky et al may have climbed it earlier but the bolt and route name came from the 76 ascent. It is also possible, even likely that Becky's group climbed a different line altogether. Many of the early Needles climbs were not well documented, and many of the obvious cracks were aided previously to their FA's as free routes but no one really kept careful track of it all. May 23, 2011
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
The bolt is still there, but I can't imagine it would hold a fall. There's good gear right there anyways. My partner went left above the roof because she "read it was easier." She was looking at a fairly large pendulum fall, one that could be avoided by taking the more direct (and more obvious IMHO) line straight up. You have to do 9+ (10-?) moves either way, and the gear in the roof is pretty bomber.

We did this in two LONG pitches w/a 70m. Not recommended really, as I had to escape to the tree on the right at the top to belay for lack of more rope and gear. I guess I could have stopped anywhere, but the tree looked closer that it actually was.

Anyways, cool route, but not as good as the other routes we did. Sep 23, 2011
On the first ascent, there were no bolts placed. At that time there were no friends, and we simply used chocks.

Steve Eddy
619-889-9894 Jul 11, 2012
I don't know who Kris Solem is, but he doesn't know what he is talking about. The 1974 assent was free and clean. We called it Inner Sanctum. I remember years later Fred contacted me. He said someone else was trying to get credit for it. Fred is that way. I wrote up what happened during the approach, ascent and descent and sent it to him with a photocopy of the route from a couple of guides. One, SoCal Select by Vogel has the route, as does Hardin's guide.

Steve Eddy Jul 11, 2012
Kristian Solem
Monrovia, CA
Kristian Solem   Monrovia, CA
Thanks for the correction Steve, and the email. My comment was based on what I thought was 100% reliable info. Laeger placed the bolt - they belayed there - and I think he believed the route was unclimbed at that time. Dec 31, 2012
5.9+ PG13
5.9+ PG13
This is a fun route, but the thin face moves above the roof were fairly heady. The roof protects well (bolt completely unnecessary), but it's after that it gets harder and isn't super well-protected. The pro was sparse and not great (I got a small nut in the crack above roof, then moved right and up and slung a "knob" that wasn't much of a knob). I doubt this section is any harder than 5.9+/10-, but I was surprised by how committing those moves felt on a 5.9 climb (I also thought P1 of this climb was harder & much scarier than Airy Interlude, which somehow earns 10b on MP). The second pitch was a really fun romp. I guess we're assuming that anyone climbing at the Needles is cool with committing moves, but be aware that those face moves are a bit spicy. May 26, 2015
Thinking back on the route, I don't remember a bolt, but then again it was along time ago. For certain we did not drill a bolt. Jun 17, 2016
Conor Clarke
Washington, DC
  5.10a PG13
Conor Clarke   Washington, DC
  5.10a PG13
I thought this thing was considerably harder and scarier than Airy Interlude, and could be a disaster for a 5.9 leader. I know that everything at the Needles is supposed to be a sandbag, but this still felt like a sandbag among the sandbags . . . Aug 30, 2017
Sean Maher
Santa Barbara, CA
Sean Maher   Santa Barbara, CA
Good thing I took two shits back at camp, otherwise I might've emptied the contents of my own inner sanctum on p1. Great route! Jul 1, 2018
Brian Feretic
Ocean Beach, CA
Brian Feretic   Ocean Beach, CA
The first pitch is quite heady after the roof! Be prepared to run it out! The 2nd pitch is the best imo, and filled with a plethora of different types of climbing technique on easy cruiser terrain. I'd recommend being a solid 5.10 leader for this guy. Jul 13, 2018