A high concentration of sport and mixed routes in the 5.6 to 5.10c range. A nice reprieve from the run-outs and head games of many climbs in the needles. The crag is far enough away from the needle's eye parking lot that you shouldn't get any harassment from tourists. Moonlight ridge is separated into three sections: "The Galaxy", "McQ's Pinnacle/Thin Fin" and "The Point/Beside The Point".
Follow needles highway from sylvan lake to the needles eye parking lot. One can either park here or at one of the small pull-outs just before the parking lot. Quickly gather your gear from your car before you are attacked by tourists and take the trail on the north-western corner of the needle's eye parking lot. Continue past the first rock formation (Gnomon) on your right to three closely spaced formations called "The Galaxy" . Continue a short distance down the trail to reach the "McQ's Pinnacle/Thin Fin" and "The Point/Beside the Point" sections.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Moonlight Ridge:
A very sustained and slightly overhanging route up an arete. Like other routes in this area, the holds look huge from the ground and some of them are. However, once on the climb you will find that many "jugs" are actually medium-sized crimpers....[more]Browse More Classics in SD
I've been to moonlight ridge and enjoyed some of the climbs. I would however like to know some more specifics as to the routes and the means which they were bolted. Rap bolting is perhaps against Needle's ethics, but using power drills is illegal. Personally, I'm a bit disappointed because the people involved seem to be return visitors to the Black Hills who you think would have a little more respect for rules and history. The bolted Conn Route on "the Galaxy" is especially disconcerting because of the climbing history the Conns brought to the Hills.
I'm climbing ton's Mike. I would also like to be able to continue climbing in the Black Hills and if regulations aren't followed areas can be shut down, thus limiting everybody's climbing so a few can put there name on "new" routes. It's all about having fun, being safe and following some of the simple rules set out by CSP.
Great area to get away from the tourons at Needles Eye. Pick up the guidebook from John Biddick, pleasantly descriptive with star ratings. New Needles book has the routes but no star ratings, helps in picking out the best ones with limited time.
I'm glad development is still going on in the Needles, it's nice to see some new safe routes to climb. I was surprised however at some of the routes that are now bolted that we had climbed in the early 90's without the bolts. Specifically Dancing in the moonlight, Darth Vader (or split decision right variation - can;t remember sitting here at home after 2+ month), and Chantilly Lace. I know it's very hard to try to figure out if something is a new first ascent in the needles due to the amount of rock and number of people just passing through (we figured they weren't when we did them so we never said anything, nor did it matter to us). I'm not proposing to change anything as they are much safer with the bolts and more will climb them, I was just surprised to see things we climbed without the bolts now bolted.
We looked for John when we were there but I guess he hadn't made it out yet for the summer.
I too free soloed Chantilly Lace and half a dozen others but we have this unusual notion that a 5.6 route should be climeable by a 5.6 leader not just someone who leads much harder but puts up easy routes with dangerous runouts...so we bolt them. And of course, we had no way of knowing others had free soloed the routes.
Lucky for us someone the caliber of a Michael Reardon didn't come through the Needles twenty years ago and free solo everything 5.12 and under, describe them in a guidebook, and insist no one ever use gear of any kind to repeat the routes.
We have had nothing but compliments on Moonlight Ridge from dozens of climbers passing through, and the Ridge has become one of the most visited areas in the Needles.
I just returned home after another extended stay in the Needles. Climbed at the Ridge several times. The routes are stellar. Lunatic, Icarus,Chantilly lace,Jupiter. My favorite is the right variation of Split Decision. Very cool views from the top.
I deeply hope that this climbing community says whooaa to this kind of bolting in Custer state park. I climb ground up in this area and I support the ethics of leaving adventure climbing for those willing to meet the rock on it's level.... not yours. The rules for new routes in Custer are" ground up with a hand drill. I say these things because there is a lot of rock, why here ? Is this really worth it? please just try to stick to the rules and regs, the future of climbing is hard trad. Where ever it is and not already bolted, ohh yeah, right Here's one place. Yes I care deeply over this issue, and the pristine place we call Custer state park. sorry if I come off strong,I care & it needs to be said, out loud.
Where did you get that bit of fiction? The reality is fewer and fewer people climb hard trad these days, but by all means Christian, put up all the ground up hard trad you want here in the Needles, as you say, there is a lot of rock.
As I've said many times, about one third of the routes at Moonlight Ridge are trad and another third are mixed, seems like a pretty good balance to me. I'm in the Needles all summer every summer and I Haven't seen any ground up, hard trad climbers in years (other than the guys in the group I climb with).
Hello Ya'll, I am just sitting here in my little Apt resting my %^&$ed up foot. I have some time to kill so I thought I would give my 2 cents about Custer State park. As far as I can tell Custer State park, has, is, and will always be a hot spot for Ethical debates. Minor as they may be in the grand scheme of things, people seem to get completely wrapped up in what is ethical and what is not ethical. Maybe the golden years of climbing in Custer State Park were clean and "ethical". I say maybe, because surely some things happened that were unethical. When did the unethical practices start? Some may say that when a certain club put a big Orange cross on top Sore Thumb Via bolt ladder. Others could argue, that it went to #$@! as soon as the Bosch from God was used. I personally think as soon as anyone pounded anything into the rock, the rock was beaten and defaced. Sometimes this is done with respect and sometimes it is done simply because, and blindly, with nothing but Ego as a driving force. I don't think climbing Rocks is wrong! Nor do I think placing bolts, pins, ect is wrong. One thing is for sure, the most pure style of climbing is without a safety net. Climbing Freesolo however, has its problems. We all Know you either succeed get hurt or worse. These reasons are why we rope up and try to be as safe as possible. Most of us don't want to give it up to luck, get hurt, or die. So we have a basic instinct to preserve. Sadly though other instincts arise like Greed, Pride and Impatience.These reasons are why poor style is developed. In the past many questionable things have happened, the list is long and very petty. I think we just all need to think a little more before we act on the wrong instincts. In this world we live in today, does it really matter how some bolts are placed in the rock, and as for the other side of that token do we really need to bolt every rock we see just because. On a closing note if you plan on bolting in Custer State Park. For god sakes put up some good routes in good style.
My motive is to educate not stir the pot. I've been climbing here since 1974. It seems like we as climbers have branded ourselves as hard working, fringe dwelling, hard partying, hard playing, cheapskate, dirtbag adrenaline junkies in general. One artifact of being fringe dwellers is the lack of agreement for ground up vs top down bolt placement in the Needles. To me this is not an ethical debate but more a stylistic disagreement... aren't ethics reserved for politicians.
Climbers have been rap bolting in the Needles for two decades. Most of the rap bolted routes have been placed by climbers who have significant ground up first ascent history in the Needles. These climbers have stuck it on the line on the lead for a long time and as a group made a decision to rewrite Needles history and work top down after the loss of power drilling privileges.
Just like everyone else climbers break the law every day with acts as simple as speeding. We don't close highways due to speeding. Do hunting and fishing areas get closed due to poachers? The point is if the law is broken and someone is caught illegally power drilling then those individuals must suffer the consequences not the community. My personal thanks go out to CSP land managers whom view climbers as a valid user group and support our sport.
I must ask Joel if he has first hand knowledge of power drills being utilized at Moonlight Ridge? Furthermore why must you air that type of a topic in a portion of the website designated for route information? Can we move this topic over to "Forums". This issue is recurrent in "Forums" for other areas. This portion of the website should be used for route info, history & beta not as a forum too air dirty laundry to the world. Do you want us labeled as a community of moronic bickering, quarlsome, greedy individuals?
Moonlight Ridge was developed five years ago. Why the need too beat an old dog to death? From my perspective no one wins and our community only further polarizes. There are so many opportunities within the whole Harney Range for hand drilled new routing activities. I agree why stir the pot up in the Needles when there is so much more to be had outside CSP. In the end it all still boils down to freedom of choice. Isn't climbing still supposed to be fun?
Agreed. Get Biddick's book. Classics: Nebolous, Icarus, Venus, and Corner of the Universe. Be sure to summit the third formation, sign the register, and take in the views of the Park and the Cathedral Spires!
Fristly: Great climbing area for groups and beginners. I've been taking groups to south dakota for 8+ years and the last two years have included Moonlight Ridge. It's great because all I have to do is climb one route and I can walk the top and sling a few climbs. With groups, because everyone and everythign takes time, the sooner the route is set up the better.
Secondly: a wide range of difficulty of routes.
Thirdly: Very interesting and fun routes. I don't have my book in front of me to mention routes by name but it has fun climbs.
We caught up with one of the coauthers of the Moonlight Ridge book and had a great chat. It is nice to see acceptance of "out of towners".
In your list of 9 popular routes Moonlight Ridge, you missed some very nice routes. I really like Venus (5.9/mixed), Nebulous (5.9 or 5.10a/bolts), Point/Counterpoint (5.8/mixed), Chantilly Lace (5.6/bolts), Pigs in Space (5.10a/trad),Stairway to Heaven (5.9/trad), Klingon Flake(5.8/mixed), any of the string of climbs through the roof on Beside The point such as Alien Encounter (5.9/mixed), Waxing Crescent (5.10a/mixed), and the Sex Twins (both are 5.9/mixed),and then on the far end of Beside The Point is Pointless (5.8/mixed). On the backside of that formation are two more good ones, Binary Star (5.8/trad) and Princess Leia (5.10c/bolts). Princess Leia got it's first clean lead when Becky Hamling led it looking very solid.