Big Methow Needle of The Needles via Pine Creek / 大梅特豪針峯

  • Reading time:9 mins read

Big Methow Needle of The Needles above Pine Creek is a series of spires west of Delancy Ridge. It boasts nearly 2000′ of prominence that attracts peak enthusiasts. Meanwhile, several of its neighbors are among Washington’s highest peaks.

Big Methow Needle's farewell
Big Methow Needle’s farewell

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Big Methow Needle of The Needles at a Glance

Access: Lone Fir Campground
Round Trip: 6.1 miles
Elevation Range: 3640′-8160′
Gear: helmet, ice ax, crampons, rope, rock
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Pine Creek Trail

Chandler and I carpooled to the North Cascades early and arrived at the pullout south of Lone Fir Campground. We couldn’t locate the Pine Creek Trailhead despite the three helpful reports. Two gave the exact distances from the creek, but everywhere we looked were down trees. Oh well. At least we had sunshine.

We hoped to see the trail at some point, but it was farther from the creek than we thought. It was exciting to have found it not long after we started. Even though we’d sometimes lose the path to windfalls, we’d find it later.

Morning flow
Morning flow

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Onto the South Ridge

At 4400′, the trail faded by a small waterfall, where we crossed Pine Creek on a big log. But we soon dove into the arms of the large alder swath. After trying two different spots around the mess but to no avail, we backtracked. Then we moved farther east in the trees, hoping for some relief.

We headed north through many down logs before seeing some flagging. Then a faint trail took us above the alder into the clearing at 4900′. Soon, we crossed a small gully to a waterfall ravine, which put us directly south of the east peak.

Crossing Pine Creek
Crossing Pine Creek

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The Summit Tower

Later we lost the morning sunshine to the clouds. But we kept our hopes up for the sun as we snaked through the steep ridge amid the dense growth. As terrain expanded, the sloping slabs and scree soon replaced the shrubs. It took some navigating to bypass the rocks while we moved west of the cliffs at 6800′.

We soon saw Big Methow Needle above the ridge. Then we dropped a bit and stepped sideways on the milder ground. We put on crampons in constant snow and were glad we didn’t bring snowshoes. The south slopes slowly steepened, but snow conditions were perfect. But somehow, I couldn’t keep from sliding.

Big Methow Needle up ahead
Big Methow Needle up ahead

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Climbing Big Methow Needle of The Needles

We looked fo the pinnacles below the ridge, not knowing that it was the southwest view. Soon, we were in the southwest gully, looking up at the massive tower, which was much more prominent in person! Despite a low snow year, climbing from the notch was still doable.

Up until now, I still wasn’t sure if the route went up directly. But all roads head to Rome, no? Besides, Chandler was eager to lead, so off he went! After all, I asked him to come so he could do the hard work—wink. There were no decent holds to start. Then we went off-route on the second pitch by going too far right. But we angled back later and arrived at the second anchor.

Big Methow Needle summit tower
Big Methow Needle summit tower

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Big Methow Needle of The Needles Summit Views

Pitch 3 turned out to be the most enjoyable. I haven’t made any lie-back move since the climbing gym days! We skipped the final pitch from the third anchor and scrambled up to the top. The summit ridge was narrow and airy, just like in the photos. As I prepared to take pictures, Chandler made his way toward the southern end. He knew where to go for his summit shot!

The sun had been out for a while, shining brightly. At some point, clouds had shifted upward. So, at last, we had great views from the top. The Golden Slam was right next door. Plus, there was the rare sighting of the tucked-away Holliway Mountain. Then to the north of Methow River were the beautiful Mount Ballard and Azurite Peak.

Southeastern panoramic view
Southeastern panoramic view

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Outro

We spent half an hour on top. Later we downclimbed to the third anchor. From there, we rappelled to the second belay station. Then we went down to the next platform. The third and final rappel got us down to the col. Glad we didn’t need to angle sideways like one report mentioned. But we made sure to back up every rappel with new webbing.

After packing up, we went back down the southern slopes. But plunge stepping with crampons was slow and overly arduous for me. I should have gone down in boots with the ice ax in hindsight. We then followed our route from the south ridge to go back into the forest. Later we crossed Pine Creek to the south side and hiked out.

Thanks for another safe outing
Thanks for another safe outing

See more trip photos here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. HFD

    Hey! Thanks for the trip report! If you’re willing, I would love to get the GPX track from you? my email is darbyhaylee@gmail.com

    Thanks!

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