Type: Trad, 800 ft (242 m), 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: FA: Fred Beckey, Dan McHale, Mike Heath, April 1970; FFA: Jeff Dozier, David Black, and Steve Gerdsen 1976
Page Views: 10,854 total · 57/month
Shared By: ttriche on Aug 22, 2008 · Updates
Admins: Cory B, Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer Ski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Description Suggest change

This route has a very distinct psychological crux, 3 to 5 pitches up depending on where you belay, as you leave the large formation known as the Pedestal. The face traverse is technically easy but nervy; rest assured that you will have plenty of exposure and a spectacular view for these moves. Lower down there are a number of "don't screw this up" moves with dubious protection, par for the course on the longer routes ascending the south face of the Warlock. There is also a good deal of wide crack climbing and some chimneying involved.

While the climbing is not technically difficult, the route has the notable distinction of being the first recorded technical ascent of the Warlock (but see comment by Kris Solem for more details). It retains more of a 'backcountry' feel when compared to more popular routes like Igor, Airy, or Thin Ice; you are unlikely to run into crowds on this or neighboring routes. The flip side of this is that you may get lost or need to do some gardening low on the route.

Your reward for the bushwhacking adventure at the base is a fine route with excellent position and moderate climbing, which ascends the tallest spire in the Needles by an oft-ignored aspect, and affords much gawking at seemingly unclimbable sheer faces on golden granite, zebra-striped with water streaks, painted with bright yellow and crimson lichen. Beckey did not ignore aesthetics in choosing his first ascent here; this side of the Warlock is visually quite dramatic, and even now these routes are seldom climbed.

The route faces south (duh) and gets plenty of sun, so it is best to climb this in the cooler months before the road opens (April-May) or towards the end of the Needles season (September-October). I'd suggest bringing a 70m cord, since that's the shortest single rope that will reach for the rappels off the summit.

Location Suggest change

Finding the right crack system at the base may be the true crux of the route -- a crack in a left-facing corner/groove which is not without dirt, lichen, and occasional stinging insects. (I will try and post a photo of the start, since it's difficult to describe well -- one attempt can be found here. Note that the small tree at the junction of two cracks near the end of the first pitch is a good landmark regardless)

Approach as for the Howling, Ghostbumps, etc. but keep descending around the base of the Warlock. The top of Voodoo Dome will come into view and then you will keep descending a rather unpleasant talus gully to arrive near the base of S Crack, Shadows in the Rain, and finally the original south face route.

If you have a copy of the guidebook, try to make sure that you don't go all the way around to the Styx (overhanging pillar thing that leans against the Warlock near its lowest point) or, worse, all the way around to the other side of the Pedestal. Good luck!

Protection Suggest change

Full rack to 5" or so, depending on how comfortable the leader is with wide cracks; many slings (the route wanders a good bit on the lower pitches, and I do not recall there being any bolted belay stations on the route). It should be possible to retreat below the Pedestal with a single rope, but you would be leaving a lot of gear behind. Once you have passed the Pedestal, retreat may be problematic.