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Impromptu Summit of the Needle (Advanced)

North face of the Needle from the ridge running up to North Peak

THIS IS NOT A BEGINNERS HIKE: Prior approval is needed.  The limit is 4.  Please read the the description in its entirety before signing up.

• Physical Level: Advanced

• Technical Level: Advanced

• Distance: 5-6 miles

• Time: 4-6 hours

• NOTE1: Mikee and I found a class 4 scramble route up to the summit of the Needle in November 2008. A few weeks ago I verified the route with Z and Steve.  We call it the Breakfast Route.

• Prerequisites: Competent and comfortable scrambling at the 4th class level in areas with serious exposure.

• Caveat: Once we are on the Needle you must agree to follow my instructions unless you deem them unsafe. Generally they will be technical instructions on how we organize the climb and our movements. You could call them rules for safety.


• Assemble at the Smiths located at Central and Tramway.

• Carpool to the Crest House

• Hike to Saddle of the Needle at a moderate pace

• Take the ledge running along the north face of the Needle toward the area known as 5th Avenue

• Pass though a large couloir to the start of the Breakfast Route

• Scramble up the Needle, have brunch and return.  The first move getting onto the route is very exposed, after that the route is comfortable.


There is no doubt that climbing to the top of Needle is an accomplishment. It is one of the most dramatic formations in the Sandia Mountains. The first time I saw it I wanted to get to the top. The problem was that at the time all known routes were technical and I had no training in rock climbing. Mikee and I decided to look for a scramble route. Took us about 6 months find the starting point, but we did. I think it took us 3 hours to find our way to the top and half an hour to get down. We were a little worried we wouldn't find our way back.

Bring hydration, food, rain gear and a smaller pack. There is always a chance of rain. If we got caught in the rain on the top there will be no climbing down until the rock is dry. Advanced scrambling with exposure is potentially dangerous. It requires focus and a serious mind. It is a lot of fun if done right.


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2 went

  • Aaron G.
    Trail King, Assistant Organizer,
    Event Host
  • Mike
    Assistant Organizer

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