North American Classic Climbs

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Keeler Needle

Harding Route One of the top 25 routes in this collection!

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Offering clean white granite climbing in the high country of California's Sierra Nevada Range, this climb is typically characterized as "One of the best climbs I've ever done" by climbers who have experienced it. The "Needle" is part of the Mt. Whitney escarpment and only appears to be a separate feature from below. The climb is characterized by continuous 5.7 to 5.9 pitches, punctuated by two 5.10 pitches, all at considerable altitude. The first ascent was one of the first to bring big wall techniques to the high country. The history of development includes some of the most notable climbers of their generations. The climb can be done in a day by a fast party, but you'll want a high camp because of the considerable approach. A good bivouac ledge is available for more leisurely ascents. The most likely descent is via Whitney's Mountaineer's route (3rd class) on the NE side to get back to your camp. Access to this very popular area (because of Mt. Whitney) is tightly controlled - you must contact the Forest Service in Lone Pine for permits.


Alpine Rock




Kings Canyon Nat'l Park, California, USA



G11, W8


V, 5.9 A3 to 5.10+


Route Descriptions & Maps:

Click for diagram USGS topographic map

First Ascent:

First Free Ascent:

W. Harding, G. Denny, R. McKnight, F. Gronberg, July 1960.
G. Rowell, C. Vandiver, G. Wiltsie


Trip Reports:

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