Superstition Mountains, Weavers Needle
By: Charlie Knapke
In December 1994 at a DPS campfire, a number of us were discussing the various peaks on the DPS list. When Weavers Needle was mentioned, I made the comment that I wouldn't mind leading a private trip back to this great peak. Next thing I knew the group was deciding who was going to go with me. We decided that Thanksgiving 95 would be a good time since it is usually a four day trip.
As the date of the trip drew near, I suffered an injury to my leg on Barbara Cohen's list finish. I had to bow out but found someone to lead the peak. Just prior to the trip, two people came down with the flu and the trip was history. We decided to try again a year later.
In February 1995 I learned that Delores Holladay needed just Weavers Needle to complete her second list finish. This sounded like a good party in the making so we decided to invite her on our next try of Weavers Peak. As Thanksgiving approached again, I kept hearing that more and more people had been invited to go on the trip. At least twenty people were planning to come!
On Friday, November 29th, fifteen hikers met at the campground on Peralta road near the trail head for Weavers. The plan was to do Superstition Mountain the first day. The only problem was that it was raining. After some discussion most of us headed into town for breakfast in two groups. The first group hiked up to Peralta Pass in between showers to have a look at Weavers Needle from a most intimidating perspective. The second group decided to go for Superstition. They were successful but did experience what they described as "horizontal snow".
That night we had a Thanksgiving feast. Mirna had coordinated food assignments and we had enough food for about three parties.
Saturday dawned clear and cool. Now the group was up to sixteen of us. The last time I climbed Weavers Needle, we had only five people but took almost 11 hours to climb it. How was I going to get sixteen of us up and back in a reasonable amount of time. Greg Roach and I discussed it with some input from Tina and we decided to take Tina's ropes since they were lighter than mine and try to keep people moving once the climbing started.
We hiked up to the base of the peak and immediately set up for the climb. I led the first pitch and got into a good belay position. Greg came up next, carrying one rope and trailing the third. He passed by me and setup a belay position at the notch while Mirna started up to me. Mirna went up to the notch and took over the belay position so Greg could set up a sling on the pitch out of the notch. We had two climbers in motion at all times. Once a few climbers made it to the notch, Greg led them up to the summit. Once the last person passed me, I collected the rope and went up to the notch. Greg was back from the summit and started to set up the double rope repel while the last of us headed up to the summit.
Here I met two climbers from Mesa who had climbed the west side of the mountain. Instead of climbing around to the back side of the summit block as the guide recommends, they headed straight up toward the summit from the notch. This did not seem too tough so I followed them up. It looks difficult and is almost vertical but the handholds were excellent and it went very well. I returned the same way to the notch.
Barbara was having a problem with her left arm. She had injured it prior to the trip and could barley lift it above her shoulder. We had a short rope so we set up two short repels for her so she could get safely back to the notch. Things backed up a little at the repel from notch but soon we were all at the base of the mountain packing away all the climbing hardware. The hike out was uneventful.
We got back to the cars well before dark. Two members of the group had decided that the climbing was going too slow and had hiked out early without trying the first pitch. They were surprised when we were back so soon. It was obvious to them that they had underestimated the speed of the group.
Tom Sumner had missed the group that climbed Superstition so he stayed Sunday morning and hiked the peak solo.
The participants were Mirna and Greg Roach, Tina Stough, Vic Henney, Sue Wyman, Tom Sumner, John Cheslick, Jack Wickel, Julie Rush, Scott Jamison, Dave & Elaine Baldwin, Jim Fujimoto, Barbara Cohen, and Dave Scholle. Note that Delores is not listed here. She had a case of strep throat and had to cancel. This means there is at least one more party lurking out there!
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