Hot Springs County Highpoint Trip Report

Washakie Needles on Monument Peak USGS quadrangle (12,518 feet)

Date: September 30, 2006
Author: Bill Schuler

While climbing Organ Needle last year with a friend John from Albuquerque, we discussed the possibility of doing Washakie Needles this year and the likelihood of it being a State completion. John knew and had hiked with a guy living in Cheyenne, Ray, who had climbed it in the past and knew the way up, more or less. Both Ray and John turned out to be excellent climbers and compatible companions, willing to put up with my slow progress, and leading pitches that I no longer can.

Ray became the contact person for Mr. Robbins, getting permission to go in the extended weekend of September 29/October 1. I planned my travels to meet them in Thermopolis the evening of the 28th. I was coming from Ten Sleep and they were coming from Cheyenne. Hank Robbins met us in the morning and we caravanned following his truck to the locked gate at the NF Boundary (he had work to do in the area). After opening it, he showed us where he would hide the key, asked us to return it on Sunday, and wished us well. Like Dave, we were able to drive about 8 miles along one of the Oak Creek forks.

We started our backpack at 9:30 A.M. going NW up Rock Creek and after about 1 miles past Fall Creek (signed), found a trail heading SSW. We took that, contouring S to a stream, then SW up into a basin. We then headed W up to a saddle (12,000 ft ) and down to timber along Needle Creek setting up camp at around 10,200 feet. Moving slowly but steadily, we got in about 4 P.M.

Up early the next morning, we headed N, then NW, then W, then S, with lots of ups and downs, in a big arc to reach the North Face scree/talus slopes. We worked our way slowly up steepening, loose crud and staying close together to keep from clobbering each other.

We roped up before getting to the notch between the two summits as it got very vertical in a hurry. We were carrying a 50 meter rope, slings, 'biners and a small assortment of chocks and cams. The dacite (andesite?) was surprisingly and thankfully solid after the crap we went through getting there. Ray led the two pitches which I estimated to be Yosemite Decimal System 5.2 or 5.3 (Not 4th class as reported).

The exposure is breathtaking and sobering (Im getting old). We topped out about 12:30 P.M., toasted the occasion, and had lunch. We had to downclimb a bit to where we could rappel the knife edge, then down climbed (still roped) the rest of the way to the scree. We got back to our camp about 5 P.M.

The rest is anticlimactic. Next morning (Sunday) we reclimbed to the 12,000 saddle, dropped down to Fish Creek, packed out to the car. We negotiated the loong drive back to Thermopolis and on to Cheyenne, getting in about midnight.