Needle Peak - West Ridge, May 2018
Kicked-off the 2018 summer climbing season with a quick Coquihalla area scramble. The West Ridge of Needle Peak offers pleasant ridge walking, a short but exciting scramble and great scenery. Being right off Hwy 5 makes it an ideal Spring conditioning route with snow all the way to the base of the West Ridge and mostly snow-free thereafter. Contrary to the description in the Scrambles guide, I found the "crux" comes as one negotiates the headwall low on the West Ridge. It features an awkward move or two along a down-sloping ledge/groove which with a bit of good route finding can be bypassed.
Either way, it is advisable to heed the warnings posted online stating that the obvious gully in this area should be avoided. As others have indicated, the trail does seem to lead to this gully and it is indeed loose and exposed. The correct route goes around to the left. Once on the ridge proper follow your nose the rest of the way to the summit. The summit block is much easier than it looks from afar. Only 3.5 - 4 hrs roundtrip thanks in part to the snow. It is a much more interesting outing than the standard route up nearby Yak Peak.
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