Storytime with Doom: Pack-Bike-Raft-Climb

Wouldn’t want to get your shoes dirty… now would ya?

In October 2016, Steve “Doom” Fassbinder embarked on a climb and packraft trip to the Curecanti Needle, near Gunnison, Colorado. His partners included Thad Ferrell, owner of King Fisher Fly Guides and one of Four Corners Guide’s partners, as well as Durango-locals Jon Bailey and Mark Williamson, and California guy, Adam Zurn. This post originally published on his blog.

Thad climbing an offwidth on the Curecanti Needle.
Thad climbing an offwidth on the Curecanti Needle.

So after a year of talking about this climb and packraft trip to the Curecanti Needle, one rain check, a four-hour drive, and countless shenanigans to get here, we arrived. A little mud on the trail was not going to stop this train. And it didn’t. It also happened to be my birthday, and I’ll be god damned if a bit of wet dirt is gonna rain on my parade.

Eighteen months ago a friend Mark cold-call emailed me about a cool adventure that he stumbled upon, and we had been trying to make it happen ever since. You can probably guess it involves rarely touched quality climbing, with a water crossing, and turns out a bonus mudslide closure. What more could we ask for?

The crew at the top of the Curecanti Needle: A Packraft Trip

Throw in a couple more great friends, perfect temps, and plenty of cold beers, and I was all in.

To climb the Curecanti Needle you first have to walk down to Morrow Point Reservoir, 800 feet below and cross some cold-ass water. From there, 700 feet of quality granite awaits your ascent. OK, there’s plenty of choss, too. Get over it.

I’d been waiting for a trip like this to test out some new boats that we are making at Alpacka. Ultra light, trip-specific, flat water only, tiny little things.

To give you an idea of how small these boats are, I packed all five of our boats, a rain jacket, my rock shoes, and some snacks into my 30-liter day pack. Even I was surprised by this small package.

Packraft trip to the Curecanti Needle.

After a successful crossing/ boat test, we made short work of the approach pitches and got down to business. Super sweet moderate climbing on stellar rock! Kind of a relief from what I normally find myself on (i.e. desert junk rock.)

Yeah, it’s kind of viewtastic. But it should be noted that I have a new camera with some pretty fancy glass. Hopefully I can live up to its potential in the future. This was my first outing with it, and I obviously have some learning to do.

Be safe out there and clean up the old ropes, tat, and climbing detritus along the way. Until next time…

“The Curecanti Needle is a 700-ft granite spire located on the Gunnison River in western Colorado. A notable landmark to generations of natives and pioneers, the Needle is located on the southern bank of Morrow Point Reservoir, an impoundment of the Gunnison River between Gunnison and Montrose, Colorado.” Wikipedia

Doom on a packraft trip to the Curecanti Needle.