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Routes in Voodoo Dome

A Little SBC T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Emperor aka Pea Soup, The T 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Summer Sojourn T 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
White Punks on Dope T 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c PG13
Unsorted Routes:
Type: Trad, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: Burrell, Leversee, E.C.Joe, Edmiaston (1976)
Page Views: 35,540 total, 258/month
Shared By: Matthew Fienup on Jul 24, 2006
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Description

Considered by many to be the best moderate route in Southern California. Six incredible, wildly diverse pitches make this a Sierra Classic.

Pitch 1 (5.7+)
A beautiful, knobby crack slowly tapers before leading to a belay in a comfortable alcove. Stretch a 60m rope to reach the alcove. Climbers with a 50m rope will need to establish a belay from gear before the crack tapers to nothing.

Pitch 2 (5.8+)
Leaving the alcove is the clear crux of the pitch. Climb delicate face holds out the north (left-hand) wall of the alcove. Climb a slab alongside a thin crack and establish a belay in a cave-like alcove above.

Pitch 3 (5.7)
Exit right and enter a large chasm. Walk along the chasm to the far end. Chimney up and then scramble to a spacious ledge beneath the famous dihedral.

Pitch 4 (5.8/5.9)
One of the most memorable pitches you'll ever do. Lieback a wave-like left-facing dihedral. A finger size crack in the corner takes many small nuts, cams, & TCUs. Just as the difficulty eases, the crack widens into a gaping offwidth--place a 4-5" piece before setting off on the runout. Continue liebacking sans protection to a small belay ledge. Save some small gear for the belay. DO NOT be seduced out left of the offwidth onto face holds.

Pitch 5 (5.8)
Runout, diagonaling slab climbing past 4 bolts leads to a ledge with an aging pine tree (stump?!). The runouts are not horrendous.

Pitch 6 (5.8)
Step 15-20 feet left of the tree/stump and climb a beautiful splitter to the top.

Location

Wide Punks on Dope is located in a large recess on the South/Southwest side of the dome. The recess is created by a massive detached block on the right-hand side which abuts the dome. The approach from Needlerock Creek takes 45-90 minutes depending on your experience with the trail.

To descend from White Punks, walk north along the crest of the dome. Find the spot where the main east-west ridgeline nearly meets the top of Voodoo dome. Look for slings around a constriction and make a short rappel to the ground. Walk east or west (I like east) and then south around the dome.

Also, see Voodoo Dome main page.

Protection

Small to 3", carry extra small gear, 4-5" piece recommended.
Climbed this route last Saturday. Great route with an incredible variety of climbing. The approach was fine following the description in the book (stump with cairns, left at first fork, etc.). There were many cairns and it took about an hour. Very steep with many bugs.

Following up on Brad Young (above):

Pitch 1 - 200+ feet. Crack tapers to slab for 15-20 feet. It would be difficult to set up a good belay toward the end of the crack. Better to just simul (or use a 70m) up to the base of the roof. There was a fixed sling there and good placements for other gear.

Pitch 2 - Short pitch but clearing the roof is tricky. Good opportunity for high left heel hook. Once over the roof, there is a good placement for a large cam out left, then go right and up to the alcove. Going up left from first cam leads to more difficult thin lieback.

Pitch 5 - Very committing. This was the crux for us. As mentioned above, there is an opportunity for a .75 cam about 10 feet before the first bolt.

Pitch 6 - Wonderful thin finger crack. A 60m did not reach the tree so better to set up the belay about 15-20 feet below.

Descent was good as well. Head up to the summit trending left (west). At the summit, there is a dropoff with slings on the ledge. One quick rappel for about 60-75 feet and the small trail is below you. Nov 3, 2017
B-Slim
San Jose
 
B-Slim   San Jose
 
Approach from the main trail to this route sucks... especially in hot weather the bugs are so so so annoying, make sure you study your way in and allow enough time to find it. Jul 5, 2017
Jared Murray
Oakland, CA
 
Jared Murray   Oakland, CA
 
This is a great route that includes a bit of everything - lieback, slab, chimney, and face moves. Plus the views ... highly recommended!

We climbed WPOD on 11/30 after the early winter storm. The approach trail was fairly easy to follow, even with a few inches of crusty snow. The ledge below P1 was covered in ice. Thankfully most of P1 and P2 were dry and super fun climbing.

Leading P4 was awesome except for the 2 foot wide span of ice that began at the offwidth start and continued until the belay. I slipped on the ice and took my first fall on gear after placing a #4 at the undercling and pulling around the bulge. I was able to step wide over the ice on the 2nd go. The runout would have been much more enjoyable if it were dry :)

I'm glad my partner led the wet P5 slab. It was fun traversing and routefinding, but man it seemed heady with the runout between bolts! Guess I need to up my slab game.

We rapped down through a few inches of powder after sunset and made it back to the lot after about an hour of post-holing up to waist-deep snow. Awesome late season send! Dec 2, 2016
We did this climb about two weeks ago. The hardest part was finding it. The description here is quite inaccurate and confusing. The climb is on the left side of the dome and it is quite hard to identify the "massive detached block", because there are so many. If going from the road below the dome, go to the left side of the dome, which means to the left from the obvious roof in the middle of the wall. To get to the climb you will have to scramble a little and do some moderate bushwhacking to reach a pine tree below the climb. Do not hesitate to go further to the left than you would expect. Jun 6, 2016
G Halsne  
 
Did this great route yesterday with NB !

A few comments that may be helpful- We took our sweet time climbing and enjoying the scenery, got plenty lost on approach but made good time on descent. Took exactly 12 hours ( noob time) In retrospect, we could have done much faster if we hauled less and had approach dialed. The follower hauling a pack made those pitches less fun as climbing with a pack is no fun, especially in the dihedral and chimneys. But seemed a necessary evil in order to haul water/ food approach shoes. In retrospect, since im lazy, i would have figured out the rapp off instead.

Approach-The trailhead easy enough to find, but this is key: After a few minutes on trail, there is an obvious fork with a cairn. One looks a tad more traveled and goes to the left and then up a dirt hill to the bear clover meadow, the other goes right to LOST land. GO LEFT HERE. ( Follow the trail babies and it should lead up easier terrain to the general base of climb area) Figured this out after we went right and ended up on 2 hour approach bushwack, and rough terrain leading to far to the right of WPOD base area.

Descent- seems like conflicting info is out there on getting off, but it would seem from the summit, you MUST do the short north face rappel to get to hike level. ( some beta said otherwise, we could see no "non sketchy" to get off the dome.Once to trail level, don't just head east as you will cliff out, go north west-ish to find the trail. Its very well marked if you pay attention to the trail babies. It wraps all the way around and meets back up with the original trail.

P1- very fun, but the slickest section of granite on route. We went to the alcove. ( permanent slings here for a rap off, but would need two ropes.)
P2- Theres a newer yellow Cam super stuck in the crack overhead, below the roof. Great first clip! Pulling the roof was fun! Then a short face climb to the second alcove. ( Another webbing nest here for a rapp deep in the alcove) -
P3- Confused here on of we did this right- If you climb out right and up the face, then you have to descend into the trough and the rope drags like crazy on the constricted granite. Especially after placing a few pieces in the trough, then the chimney section ( which was a blast! ) Used the tree for an anchor which is about 20 feet below the P4 belay, due to excessive drag) If i was doing this again, i would climb through the small cave in the alcove to decrease drag.
P4- FUN FUN FUN.
P5- More fun that challenges the laws of gravity/rubber/stick. :)
P6- We did the splitter vs the other variation above the bolts. The first 40 feet of the splitter were mindblowingly fun :) Sep 14, 2014
brian burke
santa monica, ca
 
brian burke   santa monica, ca
 
super rad route! was pleasantly surprised to find the route empty and not to hot in late july.

the approach (from the southeast) and decent (1 rap off the summit to the northeast hiking back to the road) were both well marked with cairns and reasonably easy to follow.

agree with the other comments about traveling light and not bringing big gear. a bd #3 and a double rack of the rest of (tcus to bd #2) was totally enough for a 5.10- leader.

real talk about how fun that dihedral pitch is. wow. Jul 28, 2014
waxisgood
Milwaukee, WI
waxisgood   Milwaukee, WI
MG1
MG1  
just to add I climbed many years ago with the old bolts: its a sporty run out on the slab pitch. Travel light, no need for a big pack. And I agree the descent off the back, contour down then one rap thru trees to base of the dome wasnt bad at all. Heading back this spring. Jan 20, 2014
A couple notes: approach trail is in pretty good shape, not hard to follow. The start is more like 1/4 mile up the road from the parking area, look for an old stump with a duck on it.

On p3, climbing out of the alcove to the right, it's easy to get your rope pinched. I'm wondering if anyone has tried climbing the cool looking arete on the left side of the chasm... looks super fun and mellow, but maybe difficult to access and sparse pro.

Also sending a little love for p6, I thought it was the best pitch on the route. Amazing splitter fingers with an interesting thin crux. Oct 24, 2013
Joe Catellani
Seattle, wa
 
Joe Catellani   Seattle, wa
 
watch out for ants if you leave any gear at the base. worse ant infestation I've seen in 30+ years of climbing. Oct 12, 2013
Jessica T
seattle, wa
  5.8+ PG13
Jessica T   seattle, wa
  5.8+ PG13
APPROACH info from LOOKOUT side-straightforward easy trail walking most of way. About 80 mins from camp to warlock-voodoo notch with full packs moderate pace. 20-30 mins down gulley to base of climb following mostly obvious trail.. (Staying near skiers left "hug voodoo") Top out and return to packs at notch hike out easy trail to camp. Pretty easy approach, and can leave gear to climb other routes next day. Fun route. No need for anything bigger than #4 bd. Oct 6, 2013
Hunter Bon
Slo, CA
  5.8+
Hunter Bon   Slo, CA
  5.8+
Rad Route! A classic for sure. Accidently linked pitches 2&3and did some face climbing to the right of the chimney towards the top of p3, rope drag was there but not horrendous. The runouts on the fith pitch are nothing to be worried about. Descent was through the gulley on the right side of the dome......didnt really follow much more than game trails, made one rap off a tree at one point. Aug 19, 2013
Justin Tomlinson
Monrovia, CA
  5.8+ PG13
Justin Tomlinson   Monrovia, CA
  5.8+ PG13
I want to comment on a couple things sdrockstar81 wrote in their write up.

Mostly, I disagree that a 70m is a good idea. The only place they used the extra rope was on the first/second pitch, where he experienced "this was perfect except for the fact that the roof tends to auto lock the rope."
So, in other words, it wasn't perfect. Save the weight, use a 60m.

Secondly, I didn't find any 10a on the last pitch. I climbed the finger crack and did have a thin face move to transition into another crack but wouldn't call it 10a.

Also, don't let the "50 feet to first bolt" on P5 scare you. That is the easiest bolt to reach, with the hardest 5.7 move close to the the anchor. 50 feet sounds like an over estimate.

I think Brad Young's description is spot on.

Cheers sdrockstar81, this is a great route, glad you enjoyed it! Jul 7, 2013
JMo
Tucson, AZ
  5.9 PG13
JMo   Tucson, AZ
  5.9 PG13
Fun! Great views! Great rock! 100 best climbs? Best in Sierra? Get real. There are 8 better lines 2 formations away! The 100 best lines dont include throwaway 2nd pitch or throwaway chasm pitch. Still, LOVED it, It is a great moderate sandbag at .8, with definite spice on pitches 4, & 5, p1 is glorious. Jun 25, 2013
sdrockstar81
el cajon, CA
  5.8+ PG13
sdrockstar81   el cajon, CA
  5.8+ PG13
Climbed this last weekend...

So we hiked up thurs. after the drive from San Diego with all of our gear to dial the approach, then we set up a 2 man tent and left all of our gear and water off of the trail near the start of pitch 1... We came back fri. morning grabbed our gear and water and started pitch 1... The approach took about 1.5hrs with a 60lb pack
-Used a 70m rope...

Pitch(1&2) 1= (sexy)5.7+: medium cams 200+ ft,the cresent crack that leans left, hand/fist jams with left foot on face at times... when the crack starts to taper out transitioning to the crack on the right that leads to underneath the roof was the crux... climbed past the roof and set up the belay... this was not perfect because for the fact that the roof tends to auto lock the rope -_- ...

Pitch(3) 2= 5.7, 100ft follow crack that continues on the left up and around the right side of a boulder and into the birth cannal... continue through the cool corridor and stem up, continue a scramble to the start of pitch 4...

Pitch(4) 3= 5.8+, 160ft, Start the incredible enduro corner. 1" Left facing dihedral great secure finger locks... BD#00-.5 with a bd#3 up high underneath the offwidth... throw your feet in the offwidth and hang upside down for style points... continue up the 30-40ft runout of low angle offwidth/layback... you can use a Right knee/heel, Right hand/elbow body cam to rest inside the offwidth if need be. Once on top of the offwidth on the ledge set up the belay, continuing up the crack seemed 5.10c ish?

Pitch(5) 4= 5.8 pg13, 160ft, Bolted belay, Can set up a great belay medium sized cams... This was in my opinion the best pitch ( the enduro pitch was very awesome), due to the sweet granite slab climbing, the run out bolts, and the amazing exposure... The first bolt is about 25ft from the top of the dihedral and to the right, about 45ft from the start of the climb... from the ledge Mike traversed down and to the right continued up and moved left to the black dots of granite then up to the 1st bolt... 2nd bolt is about 25ft up and to the right which if I remember correctly was the crux, traverse R off of bolt 1. the rest is up and slightly to the right...

Pitch(6) 5= 140ft, 5.9 finger crack with a 5.10a face move takes small to medium cams. the starting crack tappers out and the crux is the face move transition into the crack on the right... continue up and belay from the tree or further up right and body belay...

Continue up to the top for an amazing view... on the north side there is a small ledge that you can scramble to. continue down and around the north west side of voodoo dome and follow the trail right next to the Warlock... scramble down between voodoo dome and the Warlock sticking close to voodoo dome...

Enjoy an epic and beautifully amazing classic climb in southern california...

Thanks to Justin Tomlinson for the comments, I edited accordinly...
-Harumph. Jun 18, 2013
Brian Prince
morro bay, ca
 
Brian Prince   morro bay, ca
 
Just to put it out there because I haven't seen mention of it, one can walk off (after rapping from the summit or not) the other way. That is, the gully between the Warlock and Voodoo dome. This involves some tricky trail finding to not get cliffed out as you make your way back to the base of the route (yes, this leads back to the base of the route) but it 's not bad. Just hug Voodoo dome when you get near the bottom of the gully. There are some cairns.

I've done both ways and this is definitely faster.

The approach is tricky because you're down in the trees and can't see the dome (where you're going) but just go up.

And I don't know where one would ever find a better 5.8 (or 5.9) pitch than the corner on this route. It has a slight curve to it so you can't see the whole thing from below. It just keeps going. It's seriously an extraordinary feature. Amazing and, really, just beautiful. Feb 11, 2013
InlandEmpireDudes
So Cal
5.9 PG13
InlandEmpireDudes   So Cal
5.9 PG13
Great climb!
Approach: when you reach a fork at a boulder you think is near the base of the climb, go right.
Pitch 4: I found a Black Diamond C4 #5 useful, huge mental piece. Anchor - I used a Metolius Master Cam #2 (yellow), Metolius Master Cam #1 (blue), and a Black Diamond Stopper #6.
Pitch 5: 4 bolts like everyone says, each is somewhere between 1 & 2 o' clock from the last one, 4th one is hard to spot; climb ends at two bolts for the anchor.

Descent: sucks. Jul 22, 2012
Did this a couple weeks ago, it was definitely an epic. We arrived a day early to dial the approach which helped avoid any speed bumps the day of the climb. The first pitch was straight forward and a rope stretcher but a 60 does reach the alcove.

We didn't encounter any problems until the slab, which was mellow through the first 3 bolts. After the 3rd bolt we attempted to go straight up to the ledge which definitely seemed much more difficult than 5.8 slab. I proceeded to slip 15 feet above the 3rd bolt and cheesegrate for about 30 feet. After getting up, we saw the anchor 25 feet to our right--were you supposed to traverse right after the 3rd bolt to a 4th and then up to the anchors?

The dihedral was physical and fun, I felt the hardest part was the beginning where the right side bulges outward somewhat making it a little more difficult to stay in the crack as well as lieback. Jun 27, 2012
Socka
Bloomington, IN
  5.9- R
Socka   Bloomington, IN
  5.9- R
This awesome climb can be rapped on 2x60. 4 long and 2 short raps using brown, double-bolt anchors get you down in 20-30 min. Money pitch is easy but run-out. Enjoy! Dec 1, 2011
Anders
Berkeley
  5.9 PG13
Anders   Berkeley
  5.9 PG13
Just did it yesterday. South Approach is not easy. But after a few days it started to make some sense. The 5th pitch run-outs are indeed horrendous! 35-40 feet between some bolts and traversing. After the 2nd bolt at least the fall would be clean, but this was a delicate and stressful lead and therefore very satisfying in the end. Awesome, awesome climb! Nov 28, 2011
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
 
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
 
Did this route back in the mid 90's with Tone Tenn, Burnsy and Steve Kahan. It still sticks in my memory as a great and varied climb. We approached it from the Needles Campsite. Sep 16, 2011
Mary Moser
Joshua Tree, CA
Mary Moser   Joshua Tree, CA
I had the honor of swinging leads on this route back in 2003 and it was spectacular. My partner got the 5th runout slab pitch and I'm glad it worked out that way because she was WAY more confident in that type of arena than I was. I was fortunate to lead pitches 2, 4 and 6. Pitch 4 and that lovely dihedral was the best part. We did find it challenging to locate the start of the climb and dealt with the usual yellow deer flies, etc. However, it was truly one of the best climbs I've ever done and well worth the hike in. Aug 17, 2011
Tim McCabe
  5.8+ PG13
Tim McCabe  
  5.8+ PG13
There is no need to carry your stuff up the route. As I recall it was pretty straight forward to get back to the start. From the summit rap down to the tree at the top of pitch 5. It's been a while since I was there but I do remember good bolt anchors all the way straight down. At some point we always did one of them as a half rope. Just don't skip any anchors the one short one is there for a reason. You'll come out above and east of the start. Jul 19, 2011
Ken H
Granite, UT
 
Ken H   Granite, UT
 
Great route. I did it back sometime around 2005.

Thought I'd comment quick about the runout lieback. I had no idea it was coming and was carrying nothing that big not even a #4, thus my last piece was the piton in the corner. Midway into the runout my rope caught on a little granite finger and I took a little slip down climbing/shaking it free. Would have really liked to had a big piece as Matt describes placed at that moment. Jan 22, 2010
Yo,
We climbed WPOD 9/8/2009. We got kinda schooled on the approach and descent- bugs, heat, brush, dust, pine needles. I was hoping to read here that we missed some secret info. We did miss the first part of the lower trail on approach, but it hardly mattered. Anyway, it was a grand adventure for sure. We descended the east side of the dome and found a full 60 m rope tangled along the base of the wall. It's faded, but looks to have been abandoned/lost relatively new. (ie not fuzzed or worn) We carried it out, in any case.
Jed
Sep 9, 2009
escherch
San Diego
  5.9- PG13
escherch   San Diego
  5.9- PG13
Fantastic climb. We got off route on the first pitch on a crack about 20' left of the route. Instead of bailing, which it appears a couple other teams did previously, we set up a belay station about 10' below where the off-route crack ends and did a traverse 5.7/5.8 back on-route for the 2nd pitch. Using a 60m rope, we didn't have any trouble reaching the second belay station. Aug 21, 2009
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
 
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
 
I like the big piece because it can be placed out left, where the short undercling turns to the runout layback. This big piece out left will keep you from swinging back into the dihedral if you come off of the layback section. Jul 25, 2009
fantastic route, seems so improbable, I looked at the first pitch and thought wow, gonna get sand bagged on this one, but it was all there. We took a double rack to 3 camolot which was way over kill, the big piece for the money pitch I didn't see the point. I got a #3 when you start to commit a big piece might give you and extra 5 feet of comfort? Just go for it and don't drag that big lug up there! 4 bolt face seemed a little easy for 5.8 but it is runout just search for the holds they are there. The last pitch (please take the thin crack for gods sake) was great also, just wish it stayed like that for days and days. Great finish to my first ever Needles adventure can't wait to go back. Jul 23, 2009
Aerili
Los Alamos, NM
  5.9 PG13
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
  5.9 PG13
My partner and I felt the crux of the route (the steep exit off the slab on pitch 2) was 5.9, but the layback dihedral on pitch 4--although enduro in my opinion--did not have a single move of 5.9 on it.

You might be happy to have a #4 on pitch 1. I sure wish I had taken it with me instead of leaving it with my partner at the bottom. Take doubles of 2 and 3 and do not place any of them early on if possible; the middle of the pitch becomes and stays wide for a quite some distance. I had 60' feet of no pro here because I only had one gold and one blue cam left when I hit it and was leapfrogging them as I went.

Unfortunately, I can give no useful approach beta. It is, as posted elsewhere, totally dumbfounding. Probably a good idea to allow 90 minutes for approach unless you are familiar with the area.

Rack up at your car and carry only the kind of pack you would want to have on the route with you (as others have stated). Coming back for anything at the bottom could add 2 hours and many bushwhacks and ant bites to your day (depending on how you descend, I suppose). We walked off the entire thing, so it is possible to avoid rapping. Whether this is the 'best' way, I don't know--it's true the walk-off is long. There are some cairns to mark this descent as you head northish at the top; then proceeding with the best routefinding you can muster will get you off this way.

Do not climb directly bolt-to-bolt on pitch 5; yes, it is circuitous and involves some traversing at times off the bolts to avoid harder ground. I did get in one 0.75 Cam between chicken plates before the first bolt, but it was mostly a mental piece. Once to the last bolt, traverse directly right and then angle up and right to reach the top; I only state this beta because it is really not obvious at this particular place.

Here is a printable topo of White Punks from Clint Cummins' Needles Mini Guide Jul 1, 2009
Jon Hanlon
SLO
  5.9 PG13
Jon Hanlon   SLO
  5.9 PG13
I can comment on that pitch since I just did it last weekend.

The answer is FAR. I would say roughly 35 feet apart. The harder sections are in the vicinity of the bolts (5.8 moves within 0-15 feet of bolts), but there is real climbing on the whole pitch. The bulk of the climbing is probably 5.6-5.7. Everything is there, you just have to be calm and patient and look around...the easiest path is quite circuitous. As Brad says, the runouts aren't horrendous, but it takes focus and I definitely had to concentrate to keep the lid on it.

It is a very satisfying pitch! Jun 26, 2009
Can anyone comment on how far apart the bolts on the 5th pitch are? How hard is the climbing between the bolts? Jun 22, 2009
Brad Young
  5.9 PG13
Brad Young  
  5.9 PG13
A revised description based on that in the main text (pitch lengths are approximate but close):

Pitch 1 (200 feet, 5.8)
A beautiful, knobby crack slowly tapers before leading to a belay in an alcove (stretch a 60 meter rope - climbers with a shorter rope will need to establish a belay from gear before the crack tapers to nothing).

Pitch 2 (50 feet, 5.8)
Climb delicate face holds out the left wall of the alcove (the crux of the pitch). Climb a slab alongside a thin crack. Move up and right on slab. Belay in a cave-like alcove above.

Pitch 3 (150 feet, 5.7)
Exit the cave to the right. A few slab moves lead to a large chasm/chimney. Walk into this to it's far end. Chimney up 20 feet and then scramble to a spacious ledge beneath the famous dihedral.

Pitch 4 (165 feet, 5.9)
An excellent and sustained pitch. Stem, jam and lieback a long, left-facing corner. The finger crack in the corner takes small nuts and cams (to one and one half inches). The difficulty eases at an edge. Above, the crack widens into a gaping offwidth. Place a 4 - 5" piece and then do a short undercling out left (5.8). From there, continuous 5.6 liebacking (no pro) leads to a small belay ledge. Save some small gear for the belay.

Pitch 5 (165 feet, 5.8)
From the right side of the ledge, runout, diagonaling slab leads past 4 bolts to a ledge. The runouts are not horrendous (5.8 sections are close to the bolts).

Pitch 6 (165 feet, 5.8)
Climb a beautiful, splitter finger crack which starts 20 feet left of where pitch 5 ends. This leads to the top.

For those lucky enough to own the Needles guidebook, the topo in that book is an approximation only. The photo shows the route perfectly. May 11, 2009
The original first pitch climbs the obvious splitter hand crack in the center of the alcove to a sling belay at its end, not the easier crack/dihedral to the right. The second pitch starts with some bold but relatively easy face moves right off the belay.

This is one climb/formation where you want to leave nothing at the base.
To descend go all the way to the top and then look for rap slings on the north side. Do a short rap or continue west to a broken area where a 40-60ft 3rd class scramble puts you down on the north side. Follow the use trail back directly to the road.

The bolted face pitch originally had only two bolts. With a 50m rope simulclimbing was mandatory.

Edit,
I've been told by someone that knows, that the crack to the right was the original line and Vernon got it wrong. Nov 2, 2008
Floridaputz
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
We approached from the bottom. It's helpful to know a large pine tree marks the start. Do not leave your stuff at the base of the climb, it's a hassle to get back to the start. Seirra classic. This climb is every bit as good as it's reputation. Climbing of all flavors, hand crack, overhang, chimmney, layback, slab it's all there. Sep 2, 2008
Did WP for the second time on 6/21/08 with JP Webb and Matt Hern and was impressed with how very good and varied the climbing is -- each pitch distinctive and worthy.
Two details: on P2, after the .8+ move out of the belay and some upward traversing under a roof/corner, one gets to the "alcove." Do belay here. Running P2 and P3 together only risks a stuck rope in the obvious pinch at the bottom of said alcove. Also, it's impossible to hear your partner(s) once you're on the next big ledge (above the cavern).

P3: face climbing to the right of the chimney/cavern (on the slab) is easy and pleasant. The bottom third can be protected in two horiz. cracks. The upper 40 feet is run-out but, again, easy 5th class. Step across the cavern/ditch at the top, where an oak branch rests on the slab. Jun 27, 2008
Jeff Buhl  
 
I have done this route several times and agree that it is absolutely stellar. From a historical perspective the slab pitch originally did have three 1/4" bolts for protection (it was quite a ways from the third bolt to the top of pitch) but I recall that the last time I climbed it the pitch had been re-bolted with modern bolts and a 4th bolt was added to the climb. I think the fourth bolt makes it a safer and more enjoyable climb.

You can also access some of the other Needles climbs from this route to make for a long fun day. Apr 28, 2008
Very beautiful, but certainly challenging for the grade (my second would agree). Highly recommend a 60m so the first pitch can be climbed to the roof, cutting it any shorter just wouldn't do it justice. Don't be tempted to combine pitches 2 & 3, you'll loose all communication (verbal or rope) with your belayer. Also, I think ending pitch 2 at the start of the chasm, as opposed to in the alcove, would avoid rope drag for the next pitch and make for a more comfortable belay. The layback pitch (#4) would probably be easiest if you double-up on finger sized cams and leave the big cams at home (the O-W section is too big for cams and totally safe to run-out). Bolted pitch is an awesome mind exercise! Pitch 1 gets afternoon sun while pitch 4 remains mostly shaded. GEAR NOTES: The biggest cam I used was a 64-100 mm (~#4 camalot). Oct 15, 2007
mschlocker
San Diego, CA
  5.8 PG13
mschlocker   San Diego, CA
  5.8 PG13
Great route. Do not waste your time with the #5. I had a #4 and #5 C4 and the #4 actually placed better than the #5. You will have to run out the last 25' or so of the lieback pitch which is not too bad. Even a #5 is too small to protect this and placing gear on this section would be difficlt. Sep 6, 2007
Tim McCabe
  5.8+ PG13
Tim McCabe  
  5.8+ PG13
As recommended to me prior to climbing this route with a 60 meter rope combine the first pitch with the first part of the second and belay below the roof/alcove. The do the crux moves of pitch two with no rope drag and finish pitch 3 in two pitches. I never brought anything bigger than a #4 friend for the 4th pitch TCU’s and Aliens are good to have. I always did the friction pitch by clipping all 4 bolts just keep moving right the old guide only show 3 bolts and then straight up to belay right at the base of the final crack. That would be the original route IMO but I would recommend doing the 4 bolt version (I think the 4th bolt is on a different route but it’s there and I always clipped it). That puts you at the tree and you can move right to the original crack or do an easy 5.5 layback pitch to the top. You can do 5 or 6 raps one should be a half rope length to make for better pulling (it should be obvious when you come to a short anchor). I have also done the walk off but it is also a long descent so I would do the raps. Mar 26, 2007
Murf  
The best rap requires two ropes, and would be 4 raps in my dim recollection. The key to this is realizing to move about 30' climbers left after the 3rd(?) rap, to the top of Dihedral Grope. Oct 11, 2006
This is a superb moderate route. Make sure to bring a 60 meter rope, as we came up short on virtually every pitch with a 50 meter rope. Also, make sure to scope out the correct crack on pitch 1 -- the one that continues all the way to the roof. We started on a crack 20 feet or so to the left, which petered out after 130 feet or so. Pitch 4 is a fairly continuous lieback crack of about one inch or less, so have plenty of gear in that range. A larger piece (#4 or #5 Camalot equivalent) is convenient for protecting the end of the pitch, but the angle is pretty low at that point, so this isn't a necessity.

Lastly -- what is the best way to descend the route? We did six full-rope rappels, which took forever. I've heard that there's an easy scramble off the other side, but I haven't done it. Oct 10, 2006