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Weaver's Needle Summit - East c4 Route
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mini location map2017-04-07
6 by photographer avatarDennisWilliams
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Weaver's Needle Summit - East c4 RoutePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hike & Climb avatar Apr 07 2017
DennisWilliams
Hike & Climb8.45 Miles 3,235 AEG
Hike & Climb8.45 Miles   8 Hrs   1 Min   1.25 mph
3,235 ft AEG   1 Hour   15 Mns Break18 LBS Pack
Solo II  •  Volcanic
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Funny how ideas take hold and won't let go.

A few months ago I had hiked from the Terrapin into the little basin south of Weaver's as a recon. Worked up the scree slope to the base of the Needle proper, to the rock face on the east side where the climbing begins. Someone has left an old rope hanging there. It was already late in the afternoon but I thought about trying out the first pitch. There were climbers descending the crack just above and they kept yelling "rock!" Didn't have a helmet so I left it for another time. That started the itch. Having done Weaver's a few weeks back from the west with protection and then The Razor's Edge, I kept fixating on an attempt at Weaver's from the east. My recent experiences had included some edgy stuff (for me anyway) which tends to dull your reaction to risk, but this effect has a short half-life. Also getting warmer out there so it seemed like now or never for a go at it.

Back to the present; came in late Thursday night from the east coast. My darling wife told me she had plans with the ladies for the day on Friday so I set the alarm and tried for some sleep. Tough to settle down once you know there is something big in the offing. Up with the alarm. The routine of packing up and getting going helps to distract from the nerves. Then the driving out and getting ready at the trail-head. It is real now. Love that feeling!

You catch the first glimpse of Weaver's along the Bluff Springs Trail approaching Bark's Canyon. It looms up bigger and bigger as the trail miles roll off. It's getting more real. Take the cut-off from the Terrapin past Bluff Saddle and up into the little basin. Weaver's is now a giant fang of rock rising a thousand feet above, the route up in plain view. Nobody else around. Good! That is just how I want it. Scramble up the scree slope. The east side is worse than the west side for this. No trail and only a cairn or two. Loose and crumbly. Get up to the rock face. The old rope is still there. I consider taking it down and bringing it out but I know I will be busy just looking after myself today. Can't use the rope and don't want to anyway. Don't know how long it has been there or how it is anchored and it is only your life that you trust to it if you do. Have a snack and some water. Make the final disposition as to what goes in the little pack and what stays at the base. Achingly real now. Time to go.

The old rope hangs off to the left of the first pitch as you go up. Good hand and foot holds but after you gain thirty feet any notion of safety is left behind and it is just you and the rock. Keep telling yourself "this is do-able" and focus on the rock in front of you. Make frequent mental notes about the way back down. Don't want to get off route in here, but I think if you did it would be quickly self-correcting. You would just plain run out of possible and have to back up. Some interesting moves required. This is not the scree chute on Brown's. Fifteen minutes of climbing and there is the chock-stone. Relief! I know the route from here on. Not a cake walk but at least I know. A little ten foot vertical face with good holds and then a scramble for the next few hundred feet and around a bush to the ramp. Follow that to the end past the fifty foot cliff face and climb up the last pitch. It hangs you out a bit over the west side but again the holds are excellent. Top out. Ah! Time for some Bowmore!

Didn't spend too much time up there. Just some photos and a little video. The realization that you now have to down-climb this whole thing starts to take hold. Going up is easy. Down-climbing is where bad things happen. Can't avoid looking down and there are some places where you hang out over space and simply have to lower yourself down and be confident that your foot will find something. Can't see the next hold. Just too vertical. The nerves rev up when you get back to the old rope. A few more moves and you will be down! Don't want any mishaps now, nearly done. Getting back down onto solid ground is when I finally allow myself to exhale and celebrate with a couple of well earned rebel yells and of course, more Bowmore. Deservedly or not, got away with it again.

At 60 years and 7 months I am not nearly the oldest to do this but I'm guessing that the over 60 free solo club is relatively small. Need to set the bar high for the youngsters. I realize it ain't Nanga Parbat, but it'll do.
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"All is as thinking makes it so."

- Marcus Aurelius
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