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North America, United States, New Mexico—Venus Needle

Venus Needle. This very spectacular tower of crumbling sandstone is located 17 miles northwest of Fort Defiance, Arizona, just over the New Mexico line. In the chill of morning on November 7, Layton Kor and I crawled numbly out of our car and sorted hardware. The route was obvious, a crack system cutting the middle of the east face. Layton led the first 120-foot pitch, a strenuous 5.8 crack, by jamming and stemming, using three aid pitons. The second lead was a 130-foot dihedral, accessible by a rotten crack overhanging the belay spot. This was moderately to fairly hard 6th class, and used virtually all bong-bongs and wide angles plus three bolts. The last pitch goes from the summit saddle to the highest, or south, summit and was climbed by a ladder of three bolts and a very poor bugaboo. Local Indian legend has it that tribes had long used this spire for target practice; the summit was supposedly festooned with arrows. We were disappointed to find that there was barely room for a summit register, much less any Indian artefacts.

Frank A. Magary, Dartmouth Mountaineering Club