There's nothing quite like being 5 pitches up a climb and having a fighter jet come screaming past a few hundred feet from the cliff. The sound is absolutely deafening, the vibration is unnerving and the adrenaline rush takes a little while to wear off. Welcome to climbing at The Needles.
Every day we were there the jets buzzed us, often flying beneath us, sometimes flying by upside down (perhaps to get a better view of the climbers?). I imagine they have more important things to focus on, but I can imagine them radioing back to base telling their pilot buddies where the climbers are to give them a good fly by. I tried to get a photo, but with only a few seconds notice it was pretty hard to get a decent shot.
Along with jets, The Needles seems to be home to an inordinate number of fire ants. Be careful where you drop your pack, because a few seconds later it could be crawling with the little buggers. Finding them on route while climbing can also be quite a bit unpleasant, and a good motivator to climb faster. Aside from the ant dangers, the climbing here is phenomenal. Everything we jumped on was incredible.
Here is Kristal at the top of the second pitch of Anti-Jello 5.10a, after climbing this excellent finger crack.
And following up the thin layback crux on pitch 3.
The views were spectacular.
Pretty much every climb at The Needles looks stunning. While we were climbing Igor Unchained 5.9++ on The Witch, we saw these two other climbers climbing The Don Yuan Wall 5.11b on The Sorcerer.
Here we are at the top of The Witch.
Here is Kristal leading the somewhat protected 5th pitch of White Punks on Dope 5.8+.
And again at the top of the Voodoo Dome.
After coming back down to the base of the Voodoo Dome, we noticed two other climbers a couple of pitches up on White Punks on Dope and it turned out to be our friends Faith and Dirk again! I guess we are on the same circuit as them. It was great to camp with them for a night, but it was time for us to move on. Apparently it was a wise choice. The next day we got a text from Faith saying they woke up to 2 inches of snow.