Trip Report: Atlantis (5.11c), The Needles (CA)

I’m not sure if this is a trip report or trip story, you be the judge…

California, The Needles, The Sorcerer, Atlantis, Pitch 3, 1:30 PM

I tip-toe right a few feet off the anchor and grasp the golden, granite flake. After a quick scan of the crux above, I place two micro-cams and a small nut. I already know from my internet scouring that this is all the protection I will get. The route, Atlantis, is known for its intimidating crux moves over small gear. At least the anchor is bolted, I think to myself. I glance at Clark, my partner, and a dozen thoughts are communicated at once. Chalk up. Deep Breath. I’m pulling on the flake with everything I’ve got.

The opening moves of Pitch 3, Atlantis

The opening moves of Pitch 3, Atlantis  (Photo: David Lussier)

This is my arena… my World Series… my Super Bowl. But here, the swirling wind is my only spectator. I dream of moments like this… ground-up, onsight, at my physical limit.  You can read every trip report and study every picture of a route, but until you’re there you don’t know how it will end.

Fully committed at the crux

Fully committed at the crux of Atlantis, 5.11c  (Photo: David Lussier)

Latching the rest jug on Pitch 3 of Atlantis

Latching the rest jug on Pitch 3 of Atlantis. It’s not over yet.  (Photo: David Lussier)

Clamping onto the “rest” jug I place a 0.4 Camalot, allowing my burning lungs to catch up. I could keep going, but the jug feels safe.  Another micro-cam. Another minute wasted. It’s time to go. My mind reaches for a positive hold, but all I catch is an insecure sloper. A desperate mantel leads me to the holy grail of 5.9 hand cracks. The locking biners click shut and I ease back, weighting the anchor. Tears roll down my cheeks as my mind catches up to what my body has just done.

The final moves on Pitch 4 of Atlantis, 5.11c, The Needles

The final moves on Pitch 4 of Atlantis, 5.11c, The Needles  (Photo: David Lussier)

-Aaron Cassebeer


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