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North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Witch Tower, the Needles, West Face

Witch Tower, The Needles, West Face. The first route on the impressive west face was done November 17, 1974 by Dave Black, Steve Eddy, and me; the beginning is from a short pillar over 100 yards south of the divide notch. The climb is superb, and would be a classic anywhere. Four of six pitches are F9, with not a loose stone on the climb, which is largely small face holds or thin jams—continuous all the way to the summit ridge south of the pointed tip. The first pitch goes straight up a crack ending in hard fingertip jams; one continues up until convolution moves spread one across left under an overhang (F9); bubbly small holds continue over a pitch, where awkward jamming takes one under a blocking overhang. The left side is possible after much probing (F9), with not much to work on; finally an improbable traverse to the right takes one to a layback heading for the summit spine. Grade III, F9.

Fred Beckey