Weavers Needle, Superstition Mountains
By: Linda McDermott
Our crew gathered just outside the roadhead for Weaver's Needle on Friday night, March 20, 1998. Ted & Lorry Brasket plus Neal Scott camped at the roadhead while Garnet Roehm left a sign just outside the parking area where one-by-one we assembled. No problem for 2WDs to the roadhead.
We got a 5:30 am start for Weaver's Needle. Leader Garnet Roehm had coordinated the trip handsomely with Ted Brasket for the roped pitches and order of folks to get the peak. We hiked up the trail then cross-country to the base of the peak, passing huge fields of poppies and wild flowers which hadn't opened up as the sun wasn't out yet. Getting to the base was easy, and we were looking at the huge 4th class chute (Route A) by about 10:00 am.
We all were assigned a climbing order to go up the roped pitches. Garnet went up the first pitch, belayed by Ted. Garnet got in position, then belayed Ted who moved up the second pitch and set up the ropes for it while the rest of the group started filing up the first pitch. Everyone was moving all the time. The only thing Garnet hadn't counted on was how hungry he got belaying the first pitch for 2-1/2 hours!
Once Ted set up the second anchor, Jim Hinkley belayed others up the second half of the chute while Ted set up a third belay above a 15' vertical pitch above the notch. After the first group was above the notch, we went on up to the summit. The last 100' to the summit was exposed climbing, with plenty of hand and foot holds. We didn't belay this section. I stayed for a few minutes to sign the register before rappelling down the exposed section at the top. We had a 80' rappel off the top, using 20' of our 110' rope on top to the anchor and had 8 or 10' on the ground because you couldn't use your feet the last 20' (free rappel). We were on a single 11mm rope so you'd have less friction through your figure 8. Ted went down first to control our descent by applying pressure on the rope from the bottom if needed. I put a prusik on the line and learned it could lock up quickly and was only easy to slide down because my descent was controlled from the bottom.
Garnet put two ropes together for the long 160' rappel (I decided to let Ted be the first one down to be the test case and ensure the rope was long enough) . That was the longest rappel I have ever done, and it really went quite well since there was so much tension on the rope because of its length. We all wore helmets the entire time we were in the chute - good thing because rocks were knocked loose by us and rope movement.
We all made it safely out of the chute by 1:30 in the afternoon, and back to the cars by about 4:00 p.m. - good time for 9 people on the climb. The poppies were spectacular on the way down.
To save time, we camped closer to the Superstition trailhead because everyone wanted to get back to work on Monday. There was a great campfire and pot luck - I think Ted Brasket just comes along for the food (he is easily bribed to lead trips this way).
Superstition was another early day - up and on the trail by 6:00 am. We followed a use trail most of the way. There was water in the main wash, then also in one small gully up high. Because the day was hot, it was a blessing. Higher on the summit ridge there is some fun (I was told) class 3 scrambling, but it is easily by-passed on the right (which I did). We followed Route A easily.
One interesting occurrence was on the way down. We ran across a fellow who was obviously inexperienced and ill-equipped. He even had no hat for sun protection and wore tennis shoes for footwear. He was apparently lost, looking for petrogryphs and had even started at the wrong roadhead (ours). He seemed very glad to see us, and, at Garnet's urging, followed us out. We had to stop several times to give him time to rest, and to give him a lot of water and sweets. He was dehydrated and scared. Jim and Richard carried out his pack. Thanks to our experienced group, we got him out safely and I don't think I've ever seen more appreciation in someone's eyes than in his as he said goodbye at his car. It reminded me of how seasoned our DPS group is, what wonderful people we climb with, and how we depend on each other for our lives. Thanks to Garnet and Ted for putting together a grand, safe trip.
Weaver's Needle climbers: Garnet Roehm, Ted Brasket, Jim Hinkley, Neal Scott, Linda McDermott, Ron Grau, Ellen Senior, Judy Hummerick, Richard Whitcomb. Superstition climbers: Garnet Roehm, Linda McDermott, Jim Hinkley, Neal Scott, Richard Whitcomb, Judy Hummerich.
NOTE FROM GARNET:
Also, I'd like to give acknowledgement to Charlie Knapke and Greg Roach who generously advised me how they got a big group up Weaver's in a timely fashion.
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