Oh what to say about this one other than this may have been the craziest thing I've ever done and I'm blessed to be back on safe solid ground.
With the HRC only being 45 miles from my house I'm mad at myself that this is my first time visiting this awesome area!
I'm not sure what the talk was about taking a car on Constellation road but I'd certainly never do that if you care about your sedan because you may not only lose some car parts as Bruce said but you may also slip of the edge in a few areas as I could feel my 4WD drive working in many sections of that winding road, a car would make it safely to the first initial Williams Ranch Sign but further is at your own risk.
Anyway I parked my trusty QX4 on Gold Bar Mine rd just around the first major bend and decent parking area, so it tacked on 3/4ths of mile but no problem since it was only 7am and I felt great!
My friend Brandon and I started the hike out in our jackets and beanies as the the strong winds and crisp moring air was certainly a cold mix but we were soon stripping layers once the sun rose and I'm pretty sure I was in a t-shirt by the time we reached Needle Point Overlook.
This really would be a primetime backpacking spot if it wasn't for the all the cow feces just like Joel described in his description, It's a bummer the area is so over ran by cattle but those beefcakes sure do a good job at upkeeping trail maintenance as it was easy travel throughout the whole day on the trails which was new for me.
Upon hitting the Yampa I only spotted a couple stagnant pools of water but downstream from our crossing there certainly appears to be more water indicated by the healthy vegetation.
I easily located the side wash that transfers to the unmarked "Needle Trail" on the opposite side of the river and near its entrance is where we took a break in the cool shaded sand and also made a water and jacket cache for our return.
I seriously loved traveling on the trails throughout the day as they were certainly well groomed by those cattle and very easy to follow which always gives a strong sense of confidence especially for what was about to take place next.
We took a break near the eastern side of The Needle close to where Bruce took his deceptive photo of the monolith...
Looking up at The Needle from this spot gives many promising and almost "easy" looking summit routes and gave me so much excitement that once we began our off trail ascent I actually started whistling and hollering with enthusiasm but that was soon to be quickly shut up.
Upon hitting the once promising eastern base I soon realized it was not going to be that way, the spot that from below that looked beyond easy was in reality a very exposed narrow gap that consisted of some of the most eroded and loosest rock I've ever encountered. As a matter of fact the whole Needle itself basically could be compared to a stale old crumbling cookie that is literally slowly falling apart day by day, I've truly never seen such dangerous rock to climb, I'll post videos to show what I'm talking about.
First video shows poor quality of the hand and footholds near the southeastern face.
Second video shows a 200+lbs rock that I would have stepped on as it crumbles down to earth on the once promising eastern face.
Maybe a legend like JJ or Bob P could have easily made it up without second thought but I don't have balls of steel and the horrible rock condition in combination with the risk, exposure and remote location made me think twice about going for it just yet.
I found another promising way up on the northwest side where there is a lone tree and small gap but again we were meet with even more crumbly rock and exposure. It was so weird because there are numerous areas that at first glance look so easy and doable but once you actually start to get into the moves you soon realize there is just no way up those paths due to the awkward pitch and poor quality of the rock, I've climbed other formations in similar exposure and difficulty just fine but the eroded condition of this rock is like nothing I've ever seen.
My friend took refuge under the shade and by the tree on the NW side while I examined the remaining circumference of The Needle looking for a weak point, the whole true south side is sheer vertical cliff wall so that wasn't an option but it was the southeastern face that gave a sign of hope!
I saw 3 different spots on that face that looked doable but once again when I began to start climbing all my foot and handholds crumbled from under me. It was at that point I started to realize I may not get on top of The Needle and became a bit disappointed but at no way was I ready to truly give up. I made my back back to the western side of the Needle where my friend was patiently waiting, I discussed the options to him and he decided to check out the southeastern face with me and give it look.
With the confidence of my buddy nearby I decided to fully go for it up the crumbly 20ft chimney chute but I had yet another foothold crumble and violently sent me back down to earth.
After we were literallty about to call it quits and friend was packing up his bag I'd decided to go for it one last time and sure enough I did it!
Going up the chimney I had to make some very risky moves that were well out of my comfort zone but once I got up that section it was a short scramble to the true summit and I was there!
It was almost surreal standing atop this impressive geological feature especially considering I almost gave up moments before, although I really wasn't able to relax and enjoy myself because of the fact I was truly fearful of being able to safely get down as it appeared much harder to go down the chimney than it was to come up
a hikers worst nightmare and a position I had promised myself I'd never put myself in!
Since it was leap of faith to get up there and kind of a last chance move I did not have a backpack with me or anything on me which was a true bummer because there was no summit register up there just small pile of rocks. I prepared for that and brought a freshly taped summit jar with a new pad and pencil but it was 30 feet below me in my bag and I was already of course on the summit. My friend who is usually the crazy one decided to stay down below as he did not feel comfortable making the risky moves required to ascend the summit so I tried having him throw me my empty water bottle with the pad and pencil inside but that just resulted in many failed throw attempts and my favorite water bottle broken shattered in the end.
I almost forget to mention that near the entrance of the chimney was a hornets nest of some sort as there were 6 or 7 of some of the physically largest hornets I've ever seen and I must have pissed them off because my friend was stung multiple times and was in a battle with them down below the whole time I was on the summit.
I didn't stay long on top as I was so focused on getting down but I did make time to say my thanks and soak in the unique 360° views as it certainly was spectacular!
Like I was saying there was no register but instead a small pile of rocks on top as if maybe there was a register but perhaps those that made it up prior were just like me and didn't have a backpack or somebody just took it which I can't imagine because just getting up here requires a certain amount of respect for the land.
I had to leave my mark on this place in some way so I checked my pockets and all I had was my cellphone, chapstick, remote key and a lighter so I decided to leave my lighter underneath the pile of rocks so that the next brave person to summit will find a bright pink BIC lighter since that's my favorite color of course.
I was fortunately able to make my way down the crumbly chimney but it literally took every ounce of energy and strength in my body to cling on for dear life as one false move could have resulted in serious injury. I was literally so relieved to touch solid ground after I got down that im pretty sure I almost kissed the dirt!
After that the mission was accomplished I was so content so I cracked my would've been summit beer as we made our way back down to the nicely groomed unamed trail. The rest of the hike back was warm and uneventful as my friend and I both were already feeling a little bit of fatigue, he somehow didn't even sleep a single hour the night before and showed up at my house at 4:30am in the morning, dudes a machine! While hiking back up the Overlook trail I kept thinking of how nice it would be to backpack in this seldom traveled area because there is so much to explore in this wilderness and I'll definitely be back this upcoming spring when the Yampa is flowing.
It was truly a great day and humbling experience out in the HRC, I don't think I'll ever do it again but I sure am glad to say I successfully summited "The Needle". Foliage
Decent color in the Hassayampa River bed but nothing extravagant.