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Success at Last on Needle Peak
Timestamp Free: 2020.11.24 - 00:24:59
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges
  (3 days)     Elevation Gain: 1622m
Participants: David Henry, Rick Collier
Difficulty: 4: Difficult and strenuous of access, Needle itself is not an especially demanding climb, although long and sometimes exposed
This report recounts a successful climb by new approach route of the NE ridge of Needle Peak
This remote and exotic climb piggybacks on my exploratory trip into the Needle region in September of '07. There's little point, therefore, in repeating in any depth the details of the approach to Needle, but I'll start with a brief summary: at a reasonable hour on the morning of August 14 (2008), David and I parked at the Simpson River staging area just off the Radium Highway; this is the only point N of Macleod Meadows where there's a bridge across the Vermilion River. It's two hours (5.6 km) up the Simpson trail on the N side of the river, mostly through burned out but regenerating forest, to the trail's first significant and closest approach to this drainage, and it is here - because of this point's proximity to Lachine Creek -- that one must ford the Simpson (GR 788456 on 82 J/13). It's a fairly serious river since it drains several major valleys to the E and S, which is why I had attempted Needle the first time in September. I had counted on - and received -- a low tide; but I had also run into serious snowpack and winter conditions higher up. So here we were heading up in the middle of August, knowing we'd have drier climbing, but concerned about water levels during this year of generous winter snows and low enough summer temperatures for melting to be slower than usual.

But we were lucky - the point where the trail edges close to the river is also a point where the river is fairly broad. Rather than there being any risk of capsizing in deep currents, our crossing was actually fast and refreshing (well, maybe faster for David and more refreshing for me since he's sixty pounds heavier and five inches taller than I), and soon we were sitting on the S side of the river pulling our socks and boots back on.

Having the benefit of all the mistakes I made in...

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