(Copied from Needles LaborDayWeekend 2010): The Needles of the Southern Sierras is a fantastic place that has to be visited at least once a year. It has a remote feel to it, outstanding views of the Southern Sierras and world class climbing. The weather conditions are conducive to the growth of a particularly abundant yellow lichen that makes almost any picture taken there a quality picture. Every formation has an anthropomorphic shape of a medieval wizard with a robe. Perhaps because of that reason, the pinnacles - or Needles- all have characteristic names like The Sorcerer, The Witch, The Warlock... The weather can be extreme either ways at times, so chasing or avoiding the sun is key.
The Needles map: <googlemap version="0.9" lat="36.120405" lon="-118.499651" type="terrain" zoom="13"> 6#B2E2135C 36.120405,-118.499651 </googlemap>
Camping there is a ranger-danger-free, near the car affair. Most folks are highly motivated climbers, conscientious of how privileged they are to be there. This place needs to be conserved in its impeccable state to avoid future regulatory burdens. If you visit, do your share to preserve the place in its pristine state. There are public restroons nearby, but that's about it. Your need to bring all the water and food you are planning to use. The Ponderosa lodge is conveniently located 3 mi south on road 190 for those that need a beer and a burger after the hard day's climb.
Traveling to the Needles is a 4 hour affair from Caltech - without traffic. However, on a Friday afternoon, it can be considerably longer due to the traffic leaving the LA area. Sodas, chips, and good tunes are in order to endure this shortcoming of the otherwise paradisaic LA area, Ja! Note google has conspired to make getting there tricky. There are a number of places called "Needles" nearby, so if you map it, don't head East to lake Havasu, on the Nevada border. The best address for google maps is "Forest route 21s05, Springville, CA". The general directions are to head towards Bakersfield, via HW5 North to HW99 North. Continue north from Bakesfield to route 190 east towards Porterville.
There are some supermarkets in Porterville to buy groceries but care must be taken so as not to leave property unattended. The area is considerably less safe than our campus and we techies may feel threatened by the barrio sub-culture etiquette that is prevalent in the area. From Porterville continue east on road 190 for a good one and a half hours while you gain the 7000' quota. Turn left at forest route 21s05 and continue about 2 miles to the camp. There is a green sign for the Needles lookout. If you get to the Ponderosa Lodge, you have gone 1mi too far. The forest road can be traveled using a regular clearance car (I have gone there with my honda civic hybrid), but it is borderline. Depending on the variable conditions at different times of the year, you might need to step it up. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.
The area has an active comunity of peregrin falcons, which are known by flying you by if you get close to their nest. They can take you by surprise and make you loose your balance easily. Other flying hazards (see image to right) exist in the area.
- Good selection of topos on MonsterOffWidth. This is a highly recommended site affiliated with the Stanford climbing club.
- Climbing Magazine featured the Needles' Spooky (5.9) in their "Classic Climbs" section
- Climbing Magazine featured the Needles' Yellow Brick Road (5.9+) in their "Classic Climbs" section