Photographer Spotlight: Ted Hesser

Ted Hesser is a photographer, rock climber, Himalayan explorer, and clean tech nerd. During the summer of 2014, after a stint in Nepal, Ted had a chance to rock climb in the Needles with good friends. He kindly shares his vertical experiences and photos here with us, which are also posted on his website and via instagram @TedHesser.

T.J Esposito climbing Airy Interlude

In the heat of the summer, one week after returning from a frosty trip in the Himalaya’s, my good friend Ryan Willemsen asked me to join him and his multi-colored spandex wearing climbing crew from San Diego on a trip in the Needles. I thought at the time that I was in pretty good shape, having spent the past month trekking around and climbing at high altitude. Man, I was wrong.

Ryan Willemsen pulling the crux on Atlantis

Rock climbing in the needles is the ultimate sandbag experience. Six miles of hiking and scrambling every day in a consistently dehydrated hot zone to sustained stout traditional climbing routes that often have sketchy run-outs over fiddly gear. Oh and did I mention that sometimes fighter jets fly through the needle formations creating sonic booms with crazy winds just to keep you on your toes? Oh yeah, it’s a hard-man climber’s paradise.

Joe Sambataro climbing Thin Ice

After a few hilarious run-ins with tweakers in Bakersfield at 2am, we found ourselves arriving at the Needles campsite around 5am on our first day. We did what any rowdy group of young climbers would do; we slept for a few hours and then proceeded forth into the mountains. This decision led to a pattern where we would finish our climbs in darkness and return to camp around midnight just in time to cook dinner, fall asleep, and do it all over again. Man, we had it good ☺

Joe Sambataro checking the time after acending Atlantis

Moonrise in the Sierras a la Needles

All told we climbed some of the most classic routes at the Needles including Thin Ice, Igor Unchained, Atlantis, Airy Interlude, Trade Winds, Don Juan Wall Romantic Warrior (attempted), Fancy Free & Spooky. Our fingers were a bit wrecked by the end, but the endless shenanigans and endless granite crack climbs all made it worth it. Can’t wait to return next year to do it again.

Nearby Camping

Campsites (Needles Spring area) exist at the trailhead which is at the end of FS-21S05, a three mile dirt road. From this trailhead it is a quick 3 mile hike along a beautiful ridge to the Needles themselves. Primitive camping can be had amongst the formations (you must obtain a fire permit from the Lookout Tower), but it is more common to simply stash gear and hike back out to the main campsites. (via)

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