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bremerton_john

[TR] Threadin' the Needles- Arrowhead, Incisor, Martin Peak 9/25/2004

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Climb: Threadin' the Needles-Arrowhead, Incisor, Martin Peak

 

Date of Climb: 9/25/2004

 

Trip Report:

George, Stan and I had a great trip into Royal Basin over the weekend. After hiking up the trail Friday night with headlamps under a georgeous moon, we camped at Shelter Rock. We got up the next morning and were greeted by ranger Mike D. I had totally forgotten to get a permit for the weekend, so I looked a bit foolish when I explained what we were up to. But he was cool about it and made us legit for camping in the upper basin Saturday night.

 

We trundled up through the scree and 3rd class loose stuff to get to the Arrowhead and climbed route 2, what is described in the book as a 5.5. The route follows the crack/chimney up through the notch at the top. It seemed a bit more challenging than 5.5, maybe 5.7. But then I'm no crack-master either. The summit register contained 3 ascents, dated 1992, 1995 and 2001. Someone named Brian Unger was on top in 2001. (Brian, if you're listening, what do you think about the rating?) A couple of old rusty pitons made for a nostalgic anchor.

 

We then worked our way up to the ridge and reached the Incisor. The current route description says it goes 5.4, which I'd agree with. The ridge is super thin, and setting up anchors to belay from is an exercise in futility. There was no summit register. The rappel station at the end of the ridge contained a huge pile of really old webbing, that literally fell apart when we pulled it off. There was also a rusted up, skanky old 1/4" bolt. We gutted the webbing and replaced it with new stuff and rapped off.

 

Going back over the ridge to find our way down, we made a slight detour to walk up Martin Peak. Again, no summit register to be found. We skied down the scree as it got dark, made camp, ate chow and slept heavily. The next day I couldn't talk George or Stan into another climb. Their 50 year old bodies had taken a beating the day before. I let them off easy and we had a leisurely hike out Sunday afternoon.

 

Here's the Arrowhead

4282Arrowhead_1-med.jpg

 

The Incisor

4282Incisor_1-med.jpg

 

Looking towards the end of Incisor Ridge with Needles Beyond (Sweat Spire, Gasp, Johnson, Clark at right)

4282Incisor_and_Needles_Beyond-med.jpg

 

Gear Notes:

Arrowhead takes cams up to 3.5, Incisor quite the opposite, small nuts is all that it will take. Single rope rappel will get you off both, though just barely off the Incisor.

 

Approach Notes:

Any of these ought to be done earlier in the summer when there is snow covering the scree, but the fall weather was nice!

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Nice job guys! I enjoy the title of your thread too.so what would be the overall grade etc.

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Thanks for the cudos, folks. Overall grade is tough to call. Individually either the Arrowhead or Incisor is probably grade II. For all 3 summits it took us 9 hours, starting at Shelter Rock until we came back down the scree into the Upper Basin. But we were moving at a fairly casual pace, also. You've got a mess of scree and 3rd/4th class terrain to weave around to get to these things. Once up on the ridge, though, it is real fun picking your way in and around some of the unnamed, smaller spires and blocks. The section that runs between Incisor and Johnson looks fairly sporting, though. Johnson's south face appears from Incisor to be 300-400 feet of straight vertical rock. Having done Johnson and Sweat a couple years ago via Suprise Basin, I'd like to try and run the whole ridge sometime in the future.

Edited by bremerton_john

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Hello capitalist!

I've used the same excuse, oh shit I totally forgot about the parking, wilderness, backcountry, camping, climbing fees and permits. Royal Basin, what the fuck, maybe we could sneak in this time of year without being noticed. You obviously don't remember HOMELAND SECURITY.

Thank you for allow me to post.

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We attempted Clark a couple years ago, but were unable to summit due to a nasty cornice near the top. However, if I had to guess I'd say it probably get's climbed maybe only a little more than some of the other Needles, which is to say maybe once every 2 years or so. The more obscure ones might see only a couple ascents over a 10 year period. I base this on the summit registers and apparent age of webbing (though this is admittedly hard to judge).

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I climbed Clark in June I think it was. I did I believe route 1 in the Olympics guide, class III scramble from Surprise Basin. It was more like class II I thought, mostly dirty rotten gullies and ledges. A little bit of steep snow to traverse on and then ascend. Only a little bit of what I would really consider scrambling at the top. Unless I got off route, but it seemed so obvious that it must've been the route. If you stayed on the ridge crest it would be quite a bit more sporting, some of the rock was solid and some was questionable. I didn't get the container w/ the summit register open so I can't tell you how many ascents it's seen lately.

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Too bad about not being able to open the container on top. I'm curious to know how many have been up there, just for comparison with the others around it. In fact, because the book has advertised it as the best one in the Needles, I could be way off base in my guess of traffic - it might see more than I think. I just presumed most folks (other than myself) who go up there head up Deception.

 

Once you're on the main ledge above Surprise Basin, I noticed a couple chimneys that looked fairly interesting, probably 4th class or low 5th.

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So would you say the main route on Deception is sandbagged and the main route on Clark is over-rated in guidebook? Do you agree with their assessment that Clark is "best climb" in Royal Basin?

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That's the only climb in the Needles I've done, but I sure hope that wasn't the best. Maybe I was off route but it didn't seem like it. It was easy but not real aesthetically pleasing. On a previous attempt I headed up too soon, before the head of Surprise Basin, and did follow the ridgeline. That was fairly interesting. You definitely find yourself in 4th/low 5th class terrain.

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I think the rock spires in the Needles are fairly enjoyable - Sweat and Arrowhead being the 2 I've liked the most. But I'll acknowledge the quality of the routes up there do not appeal to a lot of the rock jocks out there. This is not Cascade granite. Olympic basalt does have its own charms though, in a crumbly sort of way. The draw of this area is as much its scenic beauty and the lack of traffic as much as anything else.

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I'll give you that Bremerton John. Surprise Basin is really cool. I've been up to Royal Basin several times and I really like that whole area. Deception Basin is nice, too.

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Hello capitalist!

I recommend every climber , hiker stay away from the Olympics. The trails are steep and rocky, the rock is crumbly and basalt, the marmots whistle all night long just to piss off the few brave souls that attempt to explore the area.

Thank you for allow me to continue posting.

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