Entering the Sandia Mountain Wilderness on the North Crest Trail around 8:15am
Our objective, the SW ridge of the Needle, is the obvious ridge on the left with just the upper half of the route in the sun
But first we had to bushwack down for nearly an hour...
View of the lower portion of the ridge (starting on the right side of this photo). It took us almost exactly an hour to get from the car to here and didn't seem as bad as we'd heard it was.
This is Daniel leading the second pitch up towards the easy to identify cave on the third pitch.
View of the next three pitches, pitches 4, 5, and 6 from near the tree atop pitch 3
Daniel finishing up pitch 3, a 5.8 pitch through some less than stellar rock past an ancient ring piton
Starting up the fourth pitch
Beautiful day and a great view to the west from the belay below the fourth pitch. Cabezon can be seen in the right portion of this photo.
Daniel trying to figure out the crux move on the fourth pitch (and crux move of the route it seems.)
Starting up the sixth pitch. Awesome corner laybacking on great rock.
Finishing up the seventh pitch
Looking up the final portion of the route. Pitches 9, 10, 11 and 12 in this photo.
Daniel working up the 5.8 crack on pitch 9. It's a short pitch to the tree above him.
Looking down pitch 10 with a great view of the ridge.
Finally feeling like we're getting near the top. Top of pitch 11 with the crest radio towers in the background.
For the final couple of hundred feet we unroped for the low fifth class moves interspersed with fourth class action.
On the summit of the Needle with the Shield in the background at 4:15pm
The mighty Shield, the Sandias most obvious formation
The Hidden Wall and the crest towers seen from the descent from the Needle
Two rappels (one short, one a full 30m) got us down to the original descent gully where we could scramble back up the North Crest trail and back to the car
A better view of the full 1,300' vertical SW ridge of the Needle. Super classic.
One last view of the rain showers around us that never hit us (thankfully). A great day on a superb objective. Car to car time was 9.5 hours.