After the Badlands we headed to the black hills for some climbing. We arrived in the wrinkled rock climbing/camping area (which is about 1 mile away from Mt. Rushmore) to find a group of very friendly climbers taking a lunch break. They gave us some great route suggestions and we walked the 5 minute approach to the cliffs.
The next day we headed into the Cathedral Spires area in Custer State Park. This area has the tallest spires in the area. The routes can be difficult to find as it is a maze of towers and maps are difficult to find. Luckily for us the climbers we met the day before happened to have a map, which they gave us, along with more detailed approach beta to find our climb.
We climbed Spire 4, the tall one directly behind us with the top cut off from this photo.
George scoping our climb in the saddle between spire 3 and spire 4.
Joanna making her way up the first pitch.
Joanna making the final exposed step to the summit.
Steve finishing the last pitch.
Steve soaking in the exposure on the final big step to the summit.
There are so many more spires to climb.
Spires as far as the eye can see. We saw several helicopters circling with tourists while on top of the spire. At first it was cool, then the sound became distracting from our beautiful place. An older climber informed us later that the helicopters mean good weather, when they stop flying you should get down from the spires too.
Joanna and George hiking out with Spire 4 in the background.
The next day we headed to the ten pins area and Sylvan Lake, both in Custer State Park. While there we made friends with a couple from Colorado and climbed some pretty cool routes.
Joanna starting off on the route Cerebrus on the Tricouni Nail.
Joanna nearing the top of the spire while Seth belays.
Very rad summit, this one came complete with the classic needles rappel, which means no fixed rappel anchors. Instead you throw the rope on either side of the tower and simul-rappel the two strands. We did a variation to this which felt a bit safer. Steve lowered on one side from a strand tied off to the anchor. Seth and Joanna threw the rope on the other side and lowered off of that while Steve acted as the anchor on the other side of the spire.
Seth and Kim on Classic Crack at Sylvan Lake.
Summit of Classic Crack overlooking Sylvan Lake. We missed the Fourth of July fireworks but it was totally worth the view.
Photo credit: Kim Sheahan