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Curecanti Needle
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Northwest Rib 

YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 16 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 700', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 16 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Harvey T. Carter, Don Sell, Ray Northcutt, 1954, FFA:?
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter (if it fits your fancy)
Page Views: 8,388
Submitted By: Dirty Captain Meatsauce on Oct 16, 2010

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2014 Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>

Northwest Rib 

"Screw the Canyon Proper, this rock quality is the sh#t!" -Dirty Captain Meat Sauce.

To access this phenomenal rib of Curecanti Needle, exit North onto CO 92 from W. US Hwy 50 (right if from Gunnison) cross over Blue Mesa Dam and drive about 7 miles west to Pioneer Point. Then exit left to Pioneer Point which is a senic overlook with an outhouse. Take Curecanti Creek Trail (right of outhouse and right from the Curecanti Trail sign) for about 1.5 miles. This can be a grueling march with kayaks on the back. Once at the water, paddle toward the intrinsic tower in front of you. There will be a large rib line dropping down and right from the summit (NW) with a long, left-facing dihedral staring down at you. This dihedral is pitches 3-4 of the route (classic splitter good time). Anchor your boats up at a dead stump below a steep scree-filled gully that is right of the toe of the NW rib. Route/descent is described below. Just for a time estimate Admiral Grunge Bunny and myself Dirty Captain Meat Sauce climbed the Needle's Northwest Rib on a spectacular fall afternoon leaving Pioneer Point overlook with kayaks on heads at 1:30 PM and getting back to the car at 6:30 PM. Soloing helps the cause.

Scramble up the Ghangeous Kahn gully (you'll figure it out) heading towards the saddle of the Needle. Once you pass the first buttress on your left, two options exist for P1.

P1) a. Once past the first buttress on the left, two left-facing corners will be in front of you. Climb the one on the left. "If you got it you got it. No rope required." says Admiral Grunge Bunny (5.6)

b. Scramble up the whole gully to the saddle, then traverse far left on a large ledge toward the base of the upper NW rib. (3rd Classing).

P2) Climb obvious crack networks (5.6) up and left towards the base of the NW rib, which is hiding the glorious dihedral that sleeps on the other side. You will eventually land yourself at a large ledge. Traverse this ledge left and around the large portruding rib in front of you.

P3) "One of the best moderate splitter pitches in the valley" -Admiral Grunge Bunny. Start by climbing up the obvious, left-facing corner that leads to a 15 foot section of splitter thin hands leading to a perfect, 15 foot, fist crack of bliss. 30m (5.8)

Although you can belay at the top of P3 at a ledge with slings, a 60m rope will get you to the top of P4. Completing the dihedral in one pitch.

P4) Climb more splitter wide hands to a solid traverse leaning its way up and left to a 15 foot section of easy OW. Wowzers, this pitch is fun with exposure and stellar waterway views. Belay at large skinny vertical boulder. 30m (5.9-)

Now go left of the false summit boulder in front of you and do ~100 feet of fourth class ridge scrambling to the summit. Now smile.

Scramble back down west for about 40 feet and then turn left, south, and find a two bolt anchor in a notch facing southwest. 2 double rope raps (bypassing the pin anchor w/ a blue sling) and one final single rope rap lands you at the top of the saddle. Scramble down the death slide to your boats and man out that 1.5 miles with a boat on your back. Hooorah brotha!


Single rack, if you really want it bring a #4 Camalot. Just feel the hand slamwiches and solo it! Bring 2 ropes to rap.

Photos of Northwest Rib Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Admiral Grunge Bunny.
Admiral Grunge Bunny.
Rock Climbing Photo: Funzies.
Rock Climbing Photo: Northwest rib in the soft dusk light. Feel the cal...
Northwest rib in the soft dusk light. Feel the cal...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dirty Captain Meatsauce.
Dirty Captain Meatsauce.
Rock Climbing Photo: The classic pitches 3-4. Totally an awesome, 60m, ...
The classic pitches 3-4. Totally an awesome, 60m, ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Andy lost in the towers. Upper part of West Rib is...
Andy lost in the towers. Upper part of West Rib is...

Comments on Northwest Rib Add Comment
Show which comments
By mtoensing
From: Boulder
Oct 17, 2010

Thanks for posting, Kyle. Looks like you and Andy had a blast.
By phil broscovak
Dec 18, 2010

This is a great route and a fun adventure.
By Vic
Jul 18, 2013

This climb is a lot of fun. If you're looking for an obscure adventure route in an awesome setting, then this is well worth the extra effort it takes to figure out how to the cross the lake.

A few notes...
- There's no reason to hike up the gully to start the route mid-buttress. From where you park the boats at the base of the steep scree field, rope up and traverse above the water to start in a wide, left-facing corner with a piton. From here, basically stay on the ridge all the way to the top. About 6 pitches. Many pins mark the way.
- The dihedral pitch up high is stellar, and if you do the whole thing in one 60 m pitch, it's nice to have at least singles of TCUs, doubles to #2 and a #3, #4. You could get by with less gear if you broke this pitch up.
- Although there an some webbing bail anchors on the route, look for a bolted rappel station near the summit to descend. Double ropes required.
- Some chossy, licheny rock down low, but the climbing remains fun in general with a real mountaineering sort of feel.

Rock Climbing Photo: The Curecanti Needle from Pioneer Point.
The Curecanti Needle from Pioneer Point.
By Bryce Lokey
From: Montrose
Oct 12, 2015

SUP boards made this one great adventure. Swimming would be lighter but cold in October....

Agree with moving left early from the water's edge. A steep corner of hands and fists with a pin greets you and is quite fun. Wrestle with rope drag up several pitches to the dihedral pitch--definitely fun climbing and makes the route worth doing. #3 x 2 was nice for not fancying runout, wider terrain. Agree with Vic to downsize rack if you plan to break up the dihedral pitch. From the top of the dihedral pitch, move just left around a tall, blocky tower, then work your way up. We went too far left and had to rope up again.

Any beta on the 3rd rap anchor? We found only two pins and a bunch of tat draped over the edge of what turned out to be an arch suspended free from the main wall.... Seemed out of character of the other anchors (both well-bolted).

Any beta on why there are three bolts on a flat ledge right of the second rappel anchor? Highline?

Rock Climbing Photo: SUP boards make a nice approach.
SUP boards make a nice approach.

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