American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Fourth Needle, East Face

United States, California, Sierra Nevada

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Author: Bernd Zeugswetter, AAC
  • Climb Year: 2010
  • Publication Year: 2011

Over the summer, Greg Corliss, my wife Hjördis Rickert, and I climbed a new line on the thin spire just south and essentially part of the Third Needle along the Whitney Crest. The route goes through two roofs and corners on the east face of the narrow pillar. We did a couple of exploratory trips in June and July and climbed the route on August 21. The rock gets better and better going up. We used a little aid through the roof sections, but it may well go free. As it stands, the free climbing pitches are good fun and go from 3rd-class scrambling to about 5.11.

We are referring to it as the East Face of Fourth Needle.

The first two pitches are very long on steep and varied terrain through a massive quartz band. Pitch three leans back with 3rd- class scrambling to gain the base of the main pillar.

The next three pitches climb the central part of the gray pillar by cracks and off-width up to 5.11.

Pitch seven traverses back left a little and goes up a finger crack and arête to an alcove. Then come two crux pitches that follow a thin crack (micro-nuts and knifeblades) through a series of corners and roofs and up the center of the pillar. One more pitch of easier climbing gets you to the top (10 pitches total). Two knifeblades went in the narrow seams of the roof and one bolt was placed at the top of the roof pitch.

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