Did my first climb, it went great thanks to a friend who is very
experienced. He had two of his other climbing buddies come to get me and another inexperienced climber safely up and down the mountain. One climber had 35 years of climbing experience, and the other two had over 20 years. I don't think I would have done the climbs and repels I did without having people I could trust that much!
We started out at Peralta just before 7am and reached the turnoff around 9am (one of the climbers was a lady in her 60s and needed a bit of extra time on the ascent to the saddle). We went down and crossed a stream flowing there just below the trail (N33.42940, W111.37627). Once you come out of the stream you can't see a well established trail, but you should be able to see the cairns sitting atop several of the boulders along the way.
The climb up the slop to the needle base is a good workout. It looks more daunting than it ends up being, but you can feel it nonetheless. Since we did the western route (which is much easier than the climb from the Terrapin side), we made our way to the gap between the two rock shafts, did a little bit of free climbing, and then suited up for the first pitch. Because I didn't have any climbing gear myself, I borrowed whatever gear I needed from the climbers. That worked just fine except for the climbing shoes. I got over the fact that they were purple with pink shoelaces, but the guy's foot who owned the shoes is a full size smaller than mine, plus his foot isn't nearly as wide as mine. I felt like I was being initiated with some sort of wicked climbers' Chinese foot-binding ceremony. Every time I finished a pitch or rappel I pulled them off to let them go back to their normal size.
The first pitch was the longest one, up to the top of the bridge between the two shafts of rock. The wind blowing from the Terrapin side through that channel over to the Peralta side was intense! I just wore shorts that day and a t-shirt, which would have been fine if I hadn't had to sit in that wind tunnel waiting for the others to ascend. By the time everyone was up I was a shivering little ice cube! We then did our second small pitch up the northern rock shaft to a place where we did a bit of free climbing, then a final pitch and free climbed the rest of the way up. We made our ascent at 12:40.
We were the only ones climbing that day, so we had the needle to ourselves. WHAT A VIEW!
You have a panorama up there that is unlike anything you get anywhere else in the Supes. We had a clear view of the Pinals and Sierra Anchas to the east; clear views of Picketpost and Mount Lemmon to the south; the full north face of the Supes Ridgeline to the south and west; and the upper Supes and Canyon Lake to the north. Nice view of Four Peaks as well, but no good views of the Rim. Not sure if it is that way all the time, but the wind at the top wasn't nearly as bad as in the bridge lower down where the two shafts connect.
We signed the most recent register in the ammo can (currently the oldest logbook in there goes back to 1996, lots of AMC'ers signed in to it! So I "HAZ"ed mine.
There is a nice little flat bedding area encircled by a short boulder wall as a sleeping spot, pretty nice! Only flat spot up there.
We headed down at 1:30. The scariest part of the day for me was that final rappel down, from the bridge to the spot where you do the final easy scramble down to the base. We did a 200-foot rappel to that spot. The friend who went with us who was the other inexperienced climber looked over that ledge with me, and he just had one phrase: "Yeah, that's a butt-clincher." That's all he had to say!
I did the rappel with both hands tightly clinched around the ropes. We were using a figure-8 loop, and the experienced climbers kept telling me that it was totally pointless to clinch the rope above me with my left hand, it wasn't doing any good! Only holding and pulling the rope below you does anything (it allows you to brake). I didn't care though. With my nerves on that rappel it felt better to squeeze the rope on both sides for dear life
As long as I did that and stared at the wall in front of me, I was fine...there was NO WAY I was looking down that straight shaft of rock for a second!!
We were down at 3:30, finished our scramble back to the Peralta at 4:45, and were back to the trailhead at 7pm. The climbers final prank was to sneak a 10-15 pound rock in my pack. I carried a full pack with ropes, harnesses and stuff, and didn't notice it was there until we reached the car. That rock is still sitting at the trailhead, where I pitched it.