REI Community
Needle's Eye
Select Route:
Needle's Eye T 
Stitching The Seam 
Threading the Needle T 
Unnamed Fenton Route T,S 

Threading the Needle 

YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
Page Views: 8,001
Submitted By: Bob Kryzer on Oct 31, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (28)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
me on threading the needle. photo credit: chen qun


Start by the sign next to the Needles Eye. Climb up into the needle, set gear where needed in the chimney. Stem, and climb up on the right side, there's two bolts. After the second bolt climb left to the top anchors on top of the shoulder to the right of the summit of the needles eye formation.

Variation: Instead of traversing left after coming out of the eye, climb straight up to the top of the higher summit. This variation brings the climbing into the 5.9 range and causes lots of rope drag. However, it is still a very good climb. A 30 meter rappel lands you on the trash can.

Note: Climb route when low amount of noise in the parking lot is available (not Sturgis week) because climber traverses where belayer can't see climber. Use a third person to spot if needed.


Needles eye Parking lot


2 draws, small to medium nuts and cams

Photos of Threading the Needle Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Scotty Nelson threading the needle.
Scotty Nelson threading the needle.
Rock Climbing Photo: Wyatt kind enough to be a rope gun for us on this ...
Wyatt kind enough to be a rope gun for us on this ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Threading the needle, Sam Carlson photo
Threading the needle, Sam Carlson photo
Rock Climbing Photo: David Stillman with the on-sight!
David Stillman with the on-sight!
Rock Climbing Photo: The Eye
The Eye
Rock Climbing Photo: Bob Kryzer working it to the second bolt.
Bob Kryzer working it to the second bolt.

Comments on Threading the Needle Add Comment
Show which comments
By Andrew Krosbakken
Aug 27, 2009

A great and classic route. just so your aware the final traverse is ballzy for the leader and second. The traverse when my brother climbed it was protected with a micro nut. Bring webbing for the top anchor to tie off the eye bolts, they stick out and you don't want to put extra force by threading the rope threw the eye of the bolt. A great climb and super fun.
By Abandoned User
Jul 13, 2012

Can you climb this and rap off and clean it on the rap down? Or does a follower need to clean it? I ask because I will be climbing with my wife who will not be able to climb a 5.8+. Thanks.
By Adam J. Clark
From: Mill Creek, WA
Sep 30, 2013
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

August '13 -
By Ryan Steel
From: Twin Cities, MN
Jun 4, 2014
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c X

I just did this climb this past weekend, and I have to say that it really deserves the R or X addition to the rating. I know it's on the "Needles Eye" route rating, but the protection on this route is incredibly sketchy. Once you get beyond the bottom chimney and into the actual "eye" stem, you pretty much don't have any pro until you make it all the way to the first bolt, leaving quite a big gap between you and your last pro. Also, the rock is incredibly flaky, making the lack of pro all the more nerve-wrecking. After you get through the eye and onto the traverse and finish, the pro is also very sketchy, and at that point you can't really communicate with your belayer. Not to mention all the tourists, vans, and motorcycles, you practically can't communicate effectively with your belayer after you're in the eye itself. It's definitely a fun stem, and it's worth the cool picture of stemming the eye. But all in all, I wouldn't really recommend this route, unless you're really comfortable with very sketchy pro, flaky rock, and an inability to communicate well with your belayer. There are definitely a lot of better climbs in Custer that are more worth your time, in my opinion.
By Eric Thomas
From: Colorado
Jun 25, 2014

I'd agree with the X rating by Ryan. This is sketch but still super fun.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About