Type: Trad, 11 pitches
FA: E.C Joe, 1972
Page Views: 231 total · 28/month
Shared By: Dave Daly on Dec 18, 2018
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Arguably the longest route at The Needles. 'Strange Brew' (FA, E.C. Joe circa 1972), begins at the bottom right section of The Magician and works up the "prow" before intercepting 'Black Magic' midway up. The base of the route is surreal, offering "in your face" views of the other needles next door. Although moderate in rating, the second pitch of 'Strange Brew' should be considered a serious commitment (5.8 R/X). One should be a solid 5.9 leader before taking on this endevour. However, the overall adventure of this route is well worth checking out.


Pitch 1 (5.5, 90'):  Start up a dirty chimney to the base of a big oak. CAUTION: red ant nest near the base! Belay here.

Pitch 2 (5.8 R/X, 125'):  This is the mental crux of the route; an extremely runout pitch that requires focus. Even though the topo shows a bolt apppoximately 3/4 way up the pitch.....it's now long gone!! Pro is very marginal (only two sloping small knob tie-offs on the entire pitch). From the tree, climb up the tree and step out onto the slab. Head up and then move left, passing a large rounded knob. A little further are two marginal smaller knobs. Best to use long 9/16" runners. Continue up, gaining a series of large dishy 'hueco like pods'. Stepping up to the last one in the series, this is where the 'lone bolt' would have been encountered just slightly above. From here, your last pro is below you 60'. Get your head on straight and gun for the ledge above (another 25 feet). Belay at the ledge....and clean out your drawers!

Pitch 3 (5.7, 95'):  From the ledge, climb the right to left slanting hand crack to a big, flat ledge, also known as 'The Football Field'. Head to a wide crack (climbers left) at the back of the ledge. Belay here.

Pitch 4 (5.6, 60'):  Climb the easy fist crack to another ledge. Belay at the back (climbers left) of the ledge. Pro can be found at a decent right facing intermiediate corner.

Pitch 5 (5.7, 120'):   From the left edge of the ledge, move out into the large right facing dihedral system. This is where the route joins up with 'Black Magic' (5.8). Stay in the hand and finger cracks, just left of the big corner, for better pro. Continue up past a tree and to a notch in the skyline. The jutting formation at the notch is known as The Horse Head'. This can be seen much clearer during the approach descending to the base of The Magician. Belay here.

Pitch 6 (5.4, 100'):  Know as The Sidewalk Pitch, this pitch has NO pro. From the Horse Head, locate a large longish block above, situated at the start of a long right facing dihedral system. Friction up and belay here. CAUTION: Care should be taken when constructing the belay in and around the block. One can see, there are hardly any contact points for this block. Try not to load the belay.

Pitch 7 (5.7+, 110'):   From the right facing corner, step up and left around an arete. This is somewhat blind and committing. However, there is a nice finger crack awaiting out on the steep slab. Get in some pro here (small cams helpful; blue and green Aliens). Climb the crack to a pine tree. Belay here.

Pitch 8 (5.5, 95'):  Head up from the pine tree and gain a large dike. Traverse left to gain a crack (the same crack system on Pitch 7). Follow the crack up and left on easy terrain. Belay at (3) 1/4" buttonheads.

Pitch 9 (5.8, 125'):  From the bolted belay, climb on thin edges and features (a bit runout from the belay) before reaching a right facing corner with pro. Alternately, one can climb out right and up and then back left to the right facing corner (5.7). Both options are runout from the belay. Conitnue past the right facing corner on easier terrain, passing another lone 1/4" bolt, just below an overlap/roof. Interestingly, there is pro under the roof. Be sure to use a runner before pressing on. Pass to the left side of the overlaps and up an easy slab for another 50' before reaching a 3-bolt belay. Again, older 1/4" buttonheads are encountered.

Pitch 10 (4th Class, 155'):  Ready for a slow steady calf burn? Head up the center portion of the Magician's rounded prow and locate a 2-bolt anchor.

Pitch 11 (4th Class, 150'):  Continue up until the terrain begins ease into 2nd class, next to the northwest facing side of the summit area. Belay here.

From here, and if you're comfortable, one can unrope and traverse further to the left side of the northwest portion of the summit area. When a dead end is encountered, look for ASCA bolts with rings at the dead-end. There are another set of rap rings below (75') to facilitate another rap to the gully. From the gully, scramble up and over to the old lookout stairs.


For the descent approach, refer to the 'Black Magic' description. 'Strange Brew' starts 100 yards right and slightly down from 'Black Dragon'. Approach same as Black Dragon, then continue past black oaks and shrubs. Locate a right facing wide chimney/ramp that starts at a big ledge with a big pine.  


- Standard rack, emphasis on small to mid size cams
- Plenty of runners w/ carabiners