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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Iao Needle Redux -- Pete Clines

Hike date: mid-December 2010

Getting up onto the ridgeline was MUCH safer with the new route I used this time. (the one I found on the way out last time) This climbs the lower part of the Needle from the valley side, versus the direct approach along the spine. It is still very steep, but brings you to ~1350-1400'....past the nasty sheer section with crumbly soil and no solid handholds. This side route is where the only rope is located, but it is very worn and looks suspect.
Needle from the trailhead
At ~1500' is another exposed area with minimal holds. Hard on the way up, harder on the way down. A slip on the way down had me clawing at dirt and my foot finally caught a tiny flat spot just before I would have taken a big fall.

Looking Up
Long reach is helpful higher up when doing pull ups from one branch to the next. (guavas and ironwoods) There were two spots where I shimmied up ironwoods when the ridge steepness was great. The distance between hand/footholds also requires some lower body gymnastics on the way up and doing "splits" ultimately tore my favorite hiking pants to shreds when they ripped open at the crotch. (The ventilation was cooling, though.) On the way down these parts, it is more a matter of calculating your leap/slide from tree to tree. Remember, ironwoods equals ironwood needles on the ground - and this translates to poor friction.

Iao Canyon
Starting from the bridge over the stream, it took me about 105 minutes to top out. (It would later take 75 to get back down to the bridge.) This time, the uluhe/guava section at the top was swarming with bees and I had to go right through them. I was lucky to get stung only once. Instead of hanging around there, I made my way down the back of the summit where it is more narrow and overgrown. Progress was slow and I had to get to work, so I did not venture very far down before calling it quits. There is a saddle that could be explored, but clearing tools would be helpful and I had none.
Pete Clines @ Iao Needle summit
Sunny weather this time. Very hot and sweaty, but great for the views! One is of the "cave" about halfway up. Below it is a scar where all the fallen rock has gone. Also took one of those "solo summit shots" which are trendy lately.


* Note: (all photos are by Pete Clines)


  1. Fascinating! I read your other account of climbing the needle the first time but there were no pictures. I would love to see the original pictures if you still have them.

    I also wonder if you are the hiker featured in the flickr video found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/raptor4007/3301418360/

    I thought the bottle mention was interesting as it appears to mentioned in a climb from the early 1900s on another website account. Then, it had scraps of paper with names of climbers from the 1800s. A third of the way down this page talks about the bottle: http://hawaiianforest.com/exploring-iao-needle

    Anyway, thanks for sharing!

  2. Pete do you have experience in the back wall of ku'kui?
    I'm interested in an Olowalu to Iao valley hike. Mahalos.