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Spearfish Canyon

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11th Hour Gulch 
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Ice Box 
Mohican, The 
Oliver Twist 
Shadowlands 
Skeletal Remains 
Spearfish Spire 
Sunshine 
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From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Spearfish Canyon  


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Location: 44.4578, -103.8589 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Housiaux, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anonymous Coward on Jul 21, 2002
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Description 

Spearfish Canyon is a gorgeous canyon, lined with steep slopes capped by bands of limestone. The amount of rock in the canyon is staggering.

There are 7 or so main areas along the canyon, starting with Skeletal Remains and ending with The Shadowlands. There are also several smaller crags interspersed throughout. The rock quality tends to get better further up the canyon, with walls at Blue Sky, The Mohican, The Big Picture Gully, Sunshine, The Dark Side, and The Shadowlands holding some of the best stone you'll find anywhere.

The style of climbing varies from crimpy, small pocket tech-fests to slightly overhanging pocketed walls to steep and burly. Most areas have a good combination of routes of all styles, although certain areas are known for being predominantly techy, or pumpy, or bouldery, etc.

The approaches are relatively short for most areas, typically taking no longer than 10-15 minutes on well-established trails.


Ice Climbing 

Spearfish Canyon in the northern Black Hills is an excellent place to learn to climb ice. The ice is very reliable, not very crowded, and is usually accessed by short approaches. All routes are in the WI2 - WI4 range, and there is potential to add some very difficult mixed routes in the Terminator Pillar amphitheatre.

Getting There 

Go to Spearfish, SD. Take 14A south out of town.

Climbing Season



Weather station 8.4 miles from here

562 Total Routes

['4 Stars',124],['3 Stars',294],['2 Stars',107],['1 Star',35],['Bomb',1]
['<=5.6',4],['5.7',6],['5.8',18],['5.9',38],['5.10',135],['5.11',165],['5.12',140],['5.13',35],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',4],['V2-3',9],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',3],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Spearfish Canyon:
Bugs Bunny   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Sunshine : The Bunny Slope
Dragonfly   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Blue Sky : Pheromone Wall
Pakistani Route   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 95'   Sunshine : Big Black Face
Marsha Gets Creamed   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 80'   Big Picture Gully : Bradyism Wall
Yippey-Kay-Yay   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 70'   The Mohican : Lady In Red
The Sundance    5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Sunshine : The Prow
Peace Pipe   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   The Mohican : Trail of Tears Wall
Carp   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 60'   Blue Sky : The Fishbowl
Astro Pop   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Sunshine : First Wall
Indecent Exposure   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 80'   Blue Sky : Indecent Exposure
Ya Bud!   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 70'   Ice Box
The Juvenile    5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 70'   Shadowlands : The Court House Wall
Maximum Overdrive   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport   Big Picture Gully : Big Picture Wall
Last of the Mohicans   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   The Mohican : Indian Wars Wall
Absence of Faith.   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 65'   Shadowlands : The Court House Wall
Legal Eagle   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 80'   Shadowlands : The Court House Wall
My Bitch Makes Pizza   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Danks
Whopgnar   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 70'   Shadowlands : The Court House Wall
Alice   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 60'   The Thunderhead
In On The Killtaker   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Thunderhead
Browse More Classics in Spearfish Canyon

Featured Route For Spearfish Canyon
The red rope is hanging off Concracktion 5.11c. Th...

Concracktion 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a  SD : Spearfish Canyon : ... : Dark Side Wall
Oh my God! It hurts! But the pain is totally worth it in the end. This climb is phenomenal! Starts in a crack that leads to a layback which then positions you on a dainty ledge with only a couple of killer mono's to crank your way to the next hold if you can find it.The pain doesn't stop there! Keep navigating your way through hard to read holds up around the bend. This climb feels forever long because you won't see the anchors till it's nearly over. Just keep breathing and pushing your way up t...[more]   Browse More Classics in SD

Photos of Spearfish Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Roughlock Falls
Roughlock Falls
On a cloudy day at Blue Sky, the sun came through ...
On a cloudy day at Blue Sky, the sun came through ...
The after climbing swimmin' hole.
The after climbing swimmin' hole.
let's all work to keep this place immaculate
let's all work to keep this place immaculate
such a pretty canyon...
such a pretty canyon...
Jamie on hopeful monsters or sumpin? Yaaaa NEW spe...
Jamie on hopeful monsters or sumpin? Yaaaa NEW spe...
Reggie yells out on Battlecry, 5.12c Indian Wars W...
Reggie yells out on Battlecry, 5.12c Indian Wars W...
Welcome to the land of the 5.12's!  Enjoy the 5.13...
Welcome to the land of the 5.12's! Enjoy the 5.13...
Snowshoeing in the canyon
Snowshoeing in the canyon
Bridalveil Falls, lower Spearfish Canyon.  Amazing...
Bridalveil Falls, lower Spearfish Canyon. Amazing...
Pulling down a steep limestone climb in Spearfish ...
Pulling down a steep limestone climb in Spearfish ...
view from blue sky
view from blue sky
Spearfish Canyon is a great place to go snowmobili...
Spearfish Canyon is a great place to go snowmobili...
Balls steep!
Balls steep!
Field of daisys near Cheyenne Crossing, a great pl...
Field of daisys near Cheyenne Crossing, a great pl...
Enjoying some of The Secret Stash, Spearfish Canyo...
Enjoying some of The Secret Stash, Spearfish Canyo...
Down with the sickness!
Down with the sickness!
Winter comes to Spearfish Canyon early in November...
Winter comes to Spearfish Canyon early in November...
Botany Bay. Spearfish Canyon.
Botany Bay. Spearfish Canyon.
Steep limestone climbing!
Steep limestone climbing!
Classic, cold weather climbing at the Ice Box.  Th...
Classic, cold weather climbing at the Ice Box. Th...
Taking down a tasty limestone treat!
Taking down a tasty limestone treat!
Early season (12/10/13) turns in Spearfish Canyon.
Early season (12/10/13) turns in Spearfish Canyon.
Hucking for a hold in Spearfish Canyon.
Hucking for a hold in Spearfish Canyon.

Show All 36 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Spearfish Canyon Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 18, 2014
By Bob Archbold
Sep 4, 2002
For those of you who are interested a guidebook is in the proces of being written for Spearfish Canyon. It should be published and out by next spring (03). That is what the author as said that his plans are anyways. He has already done a lot of work on the book.
By Dale Snyder
Dec 26, 2002
Kick ass! It's awesome to see a website devoted to climbing in the Black Hills. Hope to see more photo's of the cliff's and the routes. Have a great new year everyone!
By Anonymous Coward
Dec 30, 2002
Hey guys, Pete and Cindy here down in Mexico climbing in the sun, enjoying hanging out with little T (Bob and my little boys too). Just wanted to say Happy New Year and keep climbing.
By Mike Cronin
Jan 12, 2003
Pete and Cindy and T it is great to hear from you. Hope all is going well in Mexico. Hope you are sending all the problems on the Tip and putting more in. Love to see you in SD this summer.
By Joanthan Schumacher
Jan 17, 2003
For some free advertising, you may want to add Spearfish Canyon to rockclimbing.com's database. Since rockandroad.com has disbanded, rc.com has taken over the helm of area and route databases, based upon individual states (even North Dakota and Nebraska!). There has been a fair amount of interest in Spearfish Canyon! I think you can even sell the guidebook on their site... Good luck and climb hard!
By Mike Cronin
Feb 4, 2003
I am sorry but on 1-12-2003 I left a message for Pete and Cindy but for some reason Perry's name came up. But once again hope all is well Pete and Cindy. Hope you can come back this summer. If Nate Renner gets this message I will replace the bolts at the Wall Of Oz if you still want that done. Are the hangers for a 3/8 inch bolt or are they 1/2 inch hangers. If Greg Parker reads this. Would you mind if a person finished the route left of Hopefull Monsters on the black water streak. If it is OK let me know at mcronin@rapidnet.com
By Denver_Climber
Jul 28, 2003
There is a thread over on rc.com about manufactured routes in the Spearfish area. According to the original post (since edited), there are a number of higher end routes in the Spearfish area with drilled monos. The post also states (stated) that the individuals doing the dirty deed admit their actions.

So what is the real scoop on this?
By Mike Cronin
Jul 30, 2003
I am writing this in regards to the Denver Climber asking about the drilled pockets on the higher end Spearfish Canyon routes. It is correct that there are some drilled pockets in the canyon, but not to the extent that you have been told. I will start with the Glamrock Wall. This wall has a very steep roof at the begining with no holds at all then leads into a beautiful slightly overhung head wall that is covered with holds. At first we had aide starts for the routes. It really took away from the quality of the routes. I then decided to create holds at the bottom so the upper wall could be climbed. Now you can climb from the ground up and it looks much better. I debated this tactic for some time before I took action. Some may feel that this is a poor choice. If that is the case then don't climb the routes on that wall. Now to address the high end routes. As far as I know there are 5 routes in the canyon with drilled holds. This was only done when a totally blank section was found. The routes would not ever be possible without a hold of some kind. There are over 100 routes that go 5.12 or harder and only 5 have been drilled. I would say that is far short of the statement (All high end routes are drilled). We are now developing a new area that will have the hardest routes in the canyon. I have decided not to drill or chip any holds. I will let others decide if the routes is possible to send in its original state. There have been rumors that the canyon is covered with manufactued holds since its debut. Many of those have been made from people that have never develolped a limestone route. You should come see for yourseld if you have any doubts. Spearfish Canyon has some of the best limestone climbing you will find in the U.S. If you allow this to sway your decision on climbing here then you are missing out.

Thanks for you timeMike Cronin
By Brad Boner
Aug 1, 2003
In response to Mike's comments, i would like to offer my $.02 on the subject... i am of the opinion that five routes with drilled holds in the Canyon is five too many. Ethical issues aside, the fact that there are more than 100 routes in the Canyon that go 5.12 or above is reason enough for routes with manufactured holds to not exist. If these five routes were not created, I doubt it would have downgraded the climbing quality of Spearfish Canyon as a whole. In fact, i think it would have quite the opposite effect and establish the Canyon as a place with an obscene amount of quality, climbable limestone. Also, no one would be posting comments on this site putting out fires from rumors of "all hard routes in the Canyon have chipped/manufactured holds"... Word-of-mouth can have some pretty damaging effects, and "five routes with manufactured holds" can easily turn into "some routes" and go to "many routes" then "most routes" and eventually snowball into "all routes in the Canyon have manufactured holds"... sounds crazy, but it happens... my main fear is that this snowball effect of misinformation will tarnish the Canyon's budding reputation as a premier climbing area in the Black Hills...

This is only one man's opinion, and please note that these comments are not in malice nor are they meant to be an attack on the efforts of those developing the Canyon into a world-class sport climbing area. I think it is well on its way to becoming just that. What's done is done, and I applaud your decision not to chip or drill any holds in your current development. Route establishment is an expensive, time-consuming and thankless task, and I speak for myself as well as others when i express my gratitude for Mike's and other's countless hours of effort...

best,Brad
By Denver_Climber
Aug 1, 2003
Mike -

Thanks for being open with this information.

Just to clarify, my words were ...'a number of higher end routes'... - not 'All high end routes are drilled' - a big difference. Also not sure where the ...'not to the extent you have been told'... comment comes from.

Can you provide the names of the 5 routes with drilled holds?

I've seen the canyon, I've climbed the canyon. I love the canyon. Thanks for the route development and I commend your new position of drilling for bolt holes only.

DC.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 25, 2003
Hi,

I was considering visiting Spearfish Labor Day weekend. However my climbing partner is a beginner, and can only climb about 5.9 or so. Would Spearfish be a good choice or not? Also how is the bolting? I've heard some stories about runouts in the black hills area, and wondered if that ethic applies to Spearfish as well. Any other general info would be great. I'm going to try to find the guide book, but I'm not sure I'll have much luck with so little time.

Thanks for the info.

-Kortazone
By Dan Dewell
Aug 25, 2003
Kortazone,

You should be able to find a guidebook at one of the stores in the area (e.g., Granite Sports in Hill CIty and Adventure Sport in Rapid City). I believe they are running around $16.

The climbing in the canyon isn't usually suited for beginners; however, there are some routes here and there in some areas that are at that level. This should not deter you, though. Your best bet for finding an area with a mixture of beginning and intermediate climbing is at Skeletal Remains not far from the entrance to Spearfish Canyon from the city of Spearfish side, and you can make a decent day as a beginner in this area. This is where I would suggest you go, but the qualiy of the rock in this area, in my opinion, is the worst in the canyon. That doesn't mean it's bad, though. I'm just saying there's world-class quality limestone in other areas of Spearfish Canyon.

As far as the bolting goes, the routes are really safe and you will never find a route with more than ten feet between a bolt usually. You will need roughly twelve draws (in most cases), and a 50m rope gets you around just fine.

Hope this helps, and have fun!
By Mike Cronin
Aug 28, 2003
This is for the guy who is thinking of coming on Labor Day weekend. Sunshine Wall would be your best bet for easy routes in the Canyon. I would hate to see a visiting climber go to Skeletal. Sunshine has many moderate routes, great stone, short approach, great weather. You can get the guide books at the stores Dan said. Hope you have a good time.
By Greg Parker
Administrator
Oct 30, 2003
The line to the left was put in by Pete deLannoy and climbed by me a long time ago. It was called Swamp Thing, 12c. I don't think it needs any more bolts, unless it's something specific for you crazy mixed-climbers.
By Mike Cronin
Jan 22, 2005
There is a new route at Sunshine Wall. It is one route right of Cougars Pupil. 8 bolts unknow grade. I am guessing solid 5.10. The name is Eye Of The Tiger. It is an open route. I have not climbed it so the rating is in question. If anyone climbs it please post the grade you feel it is. Also if anybody finds suspect bolts or anchors in Spearfish Canyon please let me know. I received some free bolts and anchors from Climbing Magazine for replacement. I need to get them used up so we can get more. EnjoyMike
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Feb 26, 2007
Is there a particuilarly useful guidebook for this area? I noticed that Sharp End is selling a book called, "Spearfish Canyon Limestone Rock Climbing Guide" by Bruce Junek, but the description says, 'grades from 5.8s to 5.12s', which seems a bit odd, since there are numerous 5.13s. Is this the nest guide available, or is there something better out there?

Thanks,
By Greg Parker
Administrator
Feb 26, 2007
Hey Monomaniac. Bruce's guide is the only guide out there for Spearfish Canyon and it does a pretty good job of describing the area. It does include descriptions of about 16 5.13's, despite what Sharp End says. However, it does not include the newer areas, The Shadowlands and the Dark Side, which combined house probably 50(?) routes including a few 5.13s. You could probably find out about those routes through word of mouth though (or by the route names and grades painted on small rocks at the base of most of the routes).
By Mikel Cronin
Feb 27, 2007
Monomaniac
There are actually closer to 100 new routes at the Shadowlands and Dark Side. About 30 new routes at Sunshine, about 10 at Mohican. Lots of 5.13 and 5.12. There are also some open projects that could go much harder. You should come and check it out.
By Greg Parker
Administrator
Feb 27, 2007
Hey Mike. How many new 5.13s are there? I'm just curious. I can think of 6-7; The Trickle 13a, Tough Love 13a, Wop-gnar 13a, Witness protection 13c, that thing by Hopeful (Shoot the Moon 12d/13a?), the Armageddon extension 13a, Lt. Dangles (is that 13a?).
What am I missing?
By Mikel Cronin
Feb 27, 2007
Greg
I think you have named the ones that are done. There are others that were given enough burns without success, Battle of the Bulge, Blakes ext. on Lips Like Sugar, Lee's new ones at the Mohawk, Jamies at Sunshine and Blakes left of Under the Gun, all 4 on Hole in the Wall, Lee's link up at the Dark Side,a couple down at the Gold Mine, The Gavel, Faith, the link up from Whop Gnar to Gavel called Jugs Judy that eliminated the 6 mono crux. Hopefully some of these can get done this spring.
By Greg Parker
Administrator
Feb 27, 2007
JUGS JUDY!! That's freaking genius!
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Feb 27, 2007
Greg and Mike,

Thanks for the quick reply. I've gotta say, it sounds like you guys have a great community up there, it really makes me jealous. I
By Greg Parker
Administrator
Feb 28, 2007
Yeah, the climbers in the Hills are pretty cool... except for that Mike guy.
By Joshua Dreher
From: Bremerton, WA
Mar 2, 2007
Hey Greg-
Lt. Dangles is the vicinity of 5.12c/d. You stick-clip the first two bolts so you can climb through the initial V6 section without clipping. From there it's like 11a to the top. Such a good route. Props to Lee on getting the FA.
By Josh Theurer
Aug 1, 2007
I wanted to ask the locals what they thought of the new article in Climbing, Land of the 5.12s? Personally I found it riddled with pictures and comments of individuals that have been to the canyon perhaps only once or twice. In my mind the article did not do too well of a job conveying the nature of Spearfish Canyon to the outside world. Spearfish is a local hub that is concerned with aesthetics and beautiful lines, not 5.13's and big names to promote how "cool" the area is...politics.
By Gary
Aug 3, 2007
Regarding the Climbing magazine article... As they say "Any press, is good press" I'm stoked that Climbing did an editorial on Spearfish Canyon. Hopefully it will bring more climbers to the beautiful area, allow them to make there own opinion, and further solidify it as a world class destination. Peace
By Greg Parker
Administrator
Sep 28, 2007
Somebody post something new. I'm bored. Any more cool pics Christian? Any new double-digit sends Dreher? Any new best-5.12-in-the-world Cronin? Come on, entertain me.
By They call me Sam
From: Fort Collins, Colorado
May 4, 2008
Where is a guide book available besides the internet? I have plans to be there in a week.
By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
Jun 4, 2008
Is there camping in/near Spearfish?
By Deaun Schovajsa
Jun 13, 2008
Chris, I haven't been to Spearfish yet (am heading there in 3 weeks), but there are lots of Forest Service campgrounds close by. Check out this link for a map of the area with campgrounds and descriptions, fees, etc.

fs.fed.us/r2/blackhills/recrea...

The locals may have some beta on free camping close by and if I find something while there I'll post it up.
By J. Gonzales
Jul 2, 2008
This question is for Mike Cronin,
Mike did you extend the finish to Totally Flaked to make it a 10b? That was a route that beginners could get a good lead on and even for some to top rope. The Canyon just lost the best 5.9+ routes with moving the anchors 10 feet. Just a concerned climber looking out for the little people. Thanks for you time.
Justin Gonzales
Spearfish
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 2, 2008
This is a reply to Justin's comment.
Yes I did extend the route, It was not to make the route harder. It needed new anchors and the route should have gone to the top from the beginning. The route was at the hard end of 5.9 so a little 5.10 added is not changing much. Just look at it as a good stepping stone or just lower at the last bolt where the old anchors were.
Mike
By Deaun Schovajsa
Jul 2, 2008
Mike, I heard from a friend that the guidebook only has about 60% of the established routes in it. Is there a local notebook or something that has more up to date routes and crags?
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 2, 2008
Deaun
The guide book has about 300+ routes in it. I think we have about 500+ now. If you have an area in mind, let me know and I can get you the route info. There is talk to make a new guide book in the next couple years.
Mike
By Deaun Schovajsa
Jul 2, 2008
Thanks Mike! An area that I read about was called Shadowlands and was reported to have great rock and was shady. I am heading up to Spearfish tomorrow evening and the forecast looks, well...toasty.
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 2, 2008
Deaun
The area that you are thinking about is called the Dark Side. Give me a call at 605-390-5187 and I can get you there. I will be up there on Fri also.
Mike
By J. Gonzales
Jul 2, 2008
Thanks Mike for the quick response, I just had some beginners asking about the route and said that it changed. Thanks again.
Justin Gonzales
By Deaun Schovajsa
Jul 2, 2008
Mike,
Thanks so much. I'll call you later today when I have my guidebook handy. Maybe I'll see you on Friday...
Deaun
By Dave Snyder
Jul 4, 2008
I was in spearfish for the 1st time last weekend and had a great time. Climbed at Mohican, sunshine, thunderhead and i think the courthouse. I was curious what the steep route to the right of the gavel is. I really wanted to get on it but the killtaker took up more of my time and energy than I had hoped (not that it wasnt worth it)
Also wondering why that area and all the others near it aren't on this site or anywhere else. Are there access issues? Just curious. I had very little trouble finding it even without directions and the name plates beneath most of the routes where very helpful. So maybe it doesn't really need anything published about it. Oh, also wondering what the route in the blue/gray streak to the left of the 12a at the courthouse is and if its been done. Looked like it had a pocket filled in and maybe 1 drilled 2 finger in that blank section. Otherwise the pockets/holds on that thing looked amazing. Thanks for any info you can give. Cant wait to come back this fall and check out some more great routes.
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 4, 2008
Dave
Glad you had a good time in the canyon. The route right of the gavel is 13c and called Witness Protection. Matt Wendling from WY got the FA last year. The other route you talk about is called Faith. It was the first route put up at the Shadow Lands in about 95-96. Then when the main development started in winter 02-03 a once local that will remain unnamed thought he would re-establish the route his way by drilling one pocket and reaming out another. It pissed off many of the other locals so the drilled pocket got filled and there is nothing we can do about the reamed one, very tragic event to such a perfect line. Once local now SLC resident Greg Parker has tried the route with the most success. Maybe if he sees this he can comment on the possible grade. So to answer your question it is still an open project along with the Gavel. There are no access issues with the area. We are all just to lazy to post the topos. There are about 200 more routes that need to be put in a book. Maybe in a couple of years. If you are wanting more steep routes in the BH then get hold of one of me and I can give you more details.
Mike
By blake workman
Jul 4, 2008
I wish I could remain silent and possibly for my own good, I should, but I just cannot... one can only be left out to dry so many times. I not quite sure why someone would continue to throw what was at one time a good friendship under the bus but sometimes that is just how it goes... I suppose. For any local out there we all know who the "unnamed local" is so why bother doing "him" any favors... lets just get it out there. It's me, Blake... I'm the one who scarred Faith forever... and I have to live with that. Was it a mistake? ...ABSOLUTELY, and I sincerely regret the fact that I did it. When I look back on it... I'm ashamed and embarrassed that I was not able to rise to the difficulty that the rock presented. Believe me, I think about it a lot.
After reading this response, I get the feeling that this local's perspective is highly judgmental, and hypocritical. Shouldn't it be what's "good for the goose is good for the gander?" Apparently not in the Spearfish climbing crew? Are there drilled pockets, glued holds, and chipped holds on great routes that reside on perfect stone in Spearfish Canyon? ......You bet there is. But lets not name anyone... whether they are long gone used-to-be locals or still residents and prime developers of the growing area. Nobody seems to be willing to discuss their faults and the routes that they have scarred... nameless or not. It's ironic to me that the manufacturing that when on with Faith... "pissed off many of the other locals", doesn't seem to resonate with the same effect with many other great routes that get climbed all the time and remain canyon classics. I've got the feeling that some people must think that they are not subject to the same level of judgment as they judge others.
The article on Spearfish Canyon was one thing and this certainly capitalizes on that. Your integrity is poor and your consideration for others is even poorer. What took place on Faith is indeed tragic and I apologize... how many apologies will ever be enough? What has taken place within the last year and with a few people who I would have called good and close friends at one time is even more tragic. The public humility is one of the major reasons I quit climbing in the canyon. It sure isn't much fun when your friends make you feel like an outcast. I have lost a many blood, sweat, and tears in that canyon, made many positive contributions and it will always be a special part of my life, but due to recent events I have no interest in climbing in that canyon ever again. You are the judge, the jury, and the executioner Mike... you always were and you always will be.

Blake Workman
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 5, 2008
Blake
I see you still look at this site. I was not trying to throw you under the bus, that is why I did not mention your name. Dave asked a question about Faith and I answered honestly. If he had asked about another route I would have answered that honesty also. I have openly admitted my faults when asked and vowed to never make those mistakes again. Blake there is not question that you put in some great routes and contributed greatly to the vast amount of routes we have in the canyon. I am sorry that you feel the way you do but that is your deal. Maybe some time away will help with your feelings. All new routes that are getting put in are on the rocks terms not ours (developers). There are too many strong climbers out there that can make moves that we never thought possible. We were young and stupid. Like you said we have all learned from out mistakes and hopefully continue to. And with you calling me the judge, jury and executioner you are mistaken. I will quote Dan Dewell "I am the custodian" and proud of it.
Mike
By steve richert
From: San Diego, CA
Jul 5, 2008
Hi folks, I am going to be heading out to Spearfish in a few weeks and I was just wondering what the camping situation is like- especially dispersed camping/free camping. Any info/help is greatly appreciated. That said, I am totally psyched to come out- it seems like a wonderful area with a great community.

Steve
By Joshua Dreher
From: Bremerton, WA
Jul 5, 2008
I'd like to make a comment about a comment made by someone that will remain nameless. I don't believe it was necessary to call out specific details about a route pointing fingers, namelessly, at a local and old friend (apparently) when it was a fellow climber in the community that has put a lot of work into many areas in the Black Hills, specifically Spearfish Canyon. It sounds like you're trying to defend your precious climbing area and its locals to new folk by calling out one individual and basically saying that you and your possie have nothing to do with this person, do not defend their actions, and in fact have driven this person away. Jerk move, especially coming from someone that has done no less evil. He who is without sin may cast the first stone and that's not you nameless commenter. I think the local climbers of the Black Hills need to reevaluate their reasons for climbing and think about whether a comment is worth losing a friendship. Stupid!!!
By Chris treggE
Administrator
From: Madison, WI
Jul 6, 2008
Hey all, I have been to Spearfish Canyon twice in the last couple years, obviously I'm a non-local. The routes are stellar, the rock impeccable, and the setting amazing. Thanks to all of the route developers, truly the place is awesome and we appreciate all the hard work. Most recently a group of us spent a day in the Big Picture Gulley guided by a local-- a lot of work had been recently done on the trail. Thanks and keep up the good work.
By Deaun Schovajsa
Jul 17, 2008
Climbed in Spearfish Canyon over the 4th of July weekend. I wanted to says thanks to Mike Cronin for his generous beta on where to climb and for offering to show us all of the new areas that have opened up. Also thanks to all of the Spearfish new routers and trail builders. You have a great area with beautiful limestone and awesome routes. Everyone we met was super friendly and helpful. Thanks again!
By DanD
Jul 17, 2008
Hey All!

I hope everyone is doing well and loving the summer! I sure miss the Black Hills: its people and the climbing are second to none.

I especially love that FA I did at the Rock Maze so many years ago -- "Little Monster" (mountainproject.com/v/south_da.... That thing is still harder than anything in the Canyon and at Baldy, despite what the 2nd ascent says (liar!!!!!). I'd say 99 percent of you have no business touching the holds, if they do indeed exist at all. :)

Let's not let the bad times overshadow the good times, boys. We're all friends here...

As Ever,
Dd
By Byron J. Hastings
From: Mystic, SD
Jul 18, 2008
I recently heard J.D. sent "Little Monster" first try. The rumor is he hired a couple of drunks from day labor to enhance (chip) all of the holds, added five bolts and the route now goes at a stout V0-... What a tragedy! Not much different than his piping in on this thread and bringing it down to his level. The real question is who should really do some serious soul searching about their climbing motives?
By Joshua Dreher
From: Bremerton, WA
Jul 18, 2008
Byron-
You heard incorrectly. The "two drunks" I hired were actually steamy hot dudes with raging 12 packs glistening in the sun! I didn't hire them to "enhance (chip) all of the holds" as much as I hired them to keep me warm at the base of Little Monster where I lived projecting it for 6 months until a near success (I call it good). I did however bolt Little Monster because safety is always first.
By KyleD
Jul 21, 2008
Hey guys. I'm living in Lead for the summer and am looking for someone to climb with on a regular basis in the canyon. Weeknights, weekends, whatever... Anyone interested please let me know! Thanks!
By eric larson
From: aurora, co
Jul 21, 2008
hey everyone
Ill be relocating to CO in August, but will be making a much needed pit stop in Spearfish for a few days.
Anyone care to spray some beta as to the best walls that time of year (aug 18-22 roughly)? We are looking to do get in mileage rather than projecting.. any uber classic 10s, 11s, low 12's recommended?


Also, there's a few shots of what looks to be gorgeous swimming holes.. anyone care to elaborate on where to find them?

feel free to pm, email or just reply here
thanks! can't wait to experience the canyon :D
By Jake Sands
Sep 16, 2009
Hey all,

I'm Jake and just moved here about 3 months, mainly from what I've heard about the climbing. However, I've yet to find anyone to climb with. I've exhausted the few chances I had, but no dice. Was wondering if anyone here would mind showing me around? I haven't climbed much in the last 2 months and climb 10's and low 11's as of now. Feel free to send me an email at captainsands@hotmail.com.

Cheers,

Jakw
By Crimp Nasty
Sep 23, 2009
Whats the best season for climbing spearfish? Is June - August good? Shade?
By Gary
Mar 28, 2010
Any word on the new guidebook?
By Mikel Cronin
Mar 29, 2010
To all who care
The status of the new Black Hills Limstone book is it has been delayed. All the wall pics I took were not enough MB. Now all the snow must melt before the new pics can be taken. Due to that the book is now behind other books at the publisher. It takes about 8-12 weeks for the publisher to edit the book before it goes to the printer. The publisher does not want to put out a book in the fall for financial reasons. So the book will be out spring 2011. I understand this is bummer to many people that would like to see the new routes. I do not want to rush the pics and put out inferior product. If anybody would like a copy of new areas let me know and I will get the list of routes and grades for you.
Mike
By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Jun 23, 2010
After my second major visit to the area I continue to be impressed by the quality of the climbing in Spearfish. Props certainly go to all who had a hand in putting the routes and doing such a great job of equipping, cleaning and trail work. We met several locals this past weekend and everyone was super friendly and helpful.

Sorry to hear about the delay with the new guidebook. If any place deserves a new full color guidebook, this is it. Hopefully whoever the publisher is will not shortchange the climbing community by taking short cuts with the book.
By Mikel Cronin
Dec 20, 2010
Putting the call out for high resolution pics of any black hills limstone climbing. The new guide book needs a pic for every major area. There is no pay but you get photo credits. I have most of the area covered but the more choices the better. I have none of skeletal remains, almost any pic will do just needs to be at least 4mb or larger in size.
Mike
By Mikel Cronin
Feb 5, 2011
The new guide book for the limestone in the Black Hills is scheduled to be out early summer. Its at the publisher getting edited at this time.
By Mike Wallraff
From: My Van
Apr 27, 2011
Mikel, Any update on a date of when the new guide book will be out and a site to purchase it from?
By Mikel Cronin
Apr 27, 2011
no new news on the book. Still getting the final touches at the publisher. Looking at later June I think. The web site for book orders will be up in the near future at blackhillsclimbingguide.com. Free shipping from the site or local pickup.
By Amy Weed
May 1, 2011
Hi,
I am heading to Spearfish, as a first stop on a 3month climbing trip :). Trying to save money every way possible.... anyone know the best place to camp...? Or couch surf?
THank ya!
By Mikel Cronin
May 4, 2011
Amy
Free camping in the Black Hills National Forest. Also there are a few NFS campgrounds that have good sites for about $10 a night.
By Mike Wallraff
From: My Van
May 25, 2011
Anyone have any recommendations on areas for when it is wet? Either spearfish or the VC.
By Corona
Jun 6, 2011
About a week ago, my climbing partner and I rolled in to the Canyon for the summer. We're pretty curious about the new development that has been going up, but it seems like the new guidebook won't be out until after the end of the summer season. Any chance anybody has some beta on some of the new crags going up like Botany Bay, the Asylum, Darkside, the roof right of Indian Wars, etc.? We were told to look up Lee and Jamie, but haven't run into them yet. Any beta/topos would be much appreciated!
By Krista m
Jun 17, 2011
We are thinking of going to Spearfish this summer with our 10&5 year old. Some of the pictures look like the place is ledgy, (not good for kids). How are the bases of the cliffs for children? Any suggestions?
By Mikel Cronin
Jun 18, 2011
I think you will fine with kids that are 10 and 5. I have a 4 yo and she has done well at most of the areas for a couple of years now. If you come out after mid july the new guide book will have a kid rating based on hang quality and hike difficulty. The best kid areas are Shadowlands, Dark Side and the VC.
By Fred Knapp
Jul 22, 2011
Mike Cronin's new full-color guidebook, Spearfish Canyon, The VC, and other Black Hills Limestone is at the printer. I hope to have advance copies within a month. Sharp End Publishing is offering a special right now. If you pre-order the print book, you will receive a free printable eBook. So, if you're planning on heading out that way, check it out:
sharpendbooks.com/
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 23, 2011
If you are in dire need of the guide book before they come over on the boat buy the advanced e-book from sharpend. If you can wait a bit longer, purchase from me directly then 5% of the sale will go to the local bolt and anchor replacement fun. blackhillsclimbingguide.com
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 29, 2011
Here is the latest and greatest on Spearfish Canyon, The VC and Other Black Hills Limestone. There has been another delay on the printing. So Sharpend and I have worked out a deal on the e-books. I am now selling e-books for the same price of $28.00. So if you have prepaid for a book already I will give your contact information to Sharpend and they will send you the e-book link then you will get a hard copy when they arrive. If you want an early e-book, give me your email so I can invoice you and get an e-book on the way to you. If you have any questions on this deal please contact me. Remember 5% of sales through me goes to the local bolt and anchor repair fund. My contact info can be found at blackhillsclimbingguide.com
By Chris treggE
Administrator
From: Madison, WI
Jul 29, 2011
Mike, I am not a huge fan of Locklizard, only being able to download and read on one computer, etc. but I gotta say, just downloaded it and it LOOKS FANTASTIC!!! Nice job! Can't wait for the print version.
By Mikel Cronin
Aug 12, 2011
blackhillsclimbingguide.com now has a buy it now button on the page. No more need to email me for paypal payment.
By Jaime Hood
Aug 23, 2011
We I are thinking of stopping in at Spearfish in a few days, on our way east. Is the new guidebook available in stores in town? Or is it best to order a copy and get the e-version?
By Mikel Cronin
Aug 23, 2011
Jamie
Can't give a for sure on the hard copy being out. Order the e-book just to make sure you have a guide.
By Jaime Hood
Aug 23, 2011
Okay, thanks for the info! I will order the guide/e-guide from the website. Cheers!
By Fred Knapp
Sep 1, 2011
The new guides have arrived. Rushmore Mountain Sports should have some tomorrow. Neptune Mountaineering received some today.
By Mikel Cronin
Sep 1, 2011
I am supposed to have my copies of new guide by fri. If they arrive I will be selling them at Beans and Biners on Sat and at the Dakota 50 in spearfish city park on sunday. If you have prepaid for the book I can give it to you at one of those venues to save shipping time.
By Mikel Cronin
Sep 3, 2011
I will have the full shipment of books in on Wed. I will mail them out at that point. If you are local and want to pick it up from me to save on shipping time then let me know prior to Wed. I will also have a few books on Sun at the Dakota 50.
By Mikel Cronin
Sep 8, 2011
All pre-ordered books are in the mail. Thanks for the support and enjoy. I have lots more so if anybody else needs one send them to my site at blackhillsclimbingguide.com
By Dillon Julius
From: Spearfish, SD
Sep 13, 2011
Base Camp Adventure Sports at 615 N Main, Spearfish, SD has the new Canyon guide books! It's one of the best guide books I've seen. Well done, Mike Cronin!
By Mikel Cronin
Mar 18, 2012
Most of the trails a pretty much in. A bit of snow here and there but the walls a good as long as they get sun. Blue Sky, BPG, Sunshine and Mohican will all be in.
By ri.
Jun 27, 2012
Thinking about heading out to Spearfish in lieu of CO for a couple of weeks from the north east. Is the canyon suitable for climbing in the heat? From the forecast it's been in the 90's and looks to continue. Are there some shady cool wall or is it going to be a sweat fest?

Don't have time to have the new guide mailed before I head out but will buy it when I get near.

Thanks for the 411
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 3, 2012
Plenty of shade to be found. Either goto full shade walls or change walls when sun creeps in.
By thu
Aug 30, 2012
Does anyone have beta on how kid friendly Spearfish Canyon is? Do the walls have room to move around or are they steep and dangerous for a 6 year old.
By R.Walters
Aug 30, 2012
Thu, there are a couple areas that are fine for kids. Namely, Shadowlands and Dark Side as well as parts of Sunshine area. Short approaches with large flat areas. I think the Cronin guide even has a 'kid-friendliness' rating system for each area. Enjoy your visit; Spearfish is great.
By Mikel Cronin
Sep 4, 2012
The guide book has a baby rating for every crag. Check it out at blackhillsclimbingguide.com. I have a 6 yo and she can hang out safely at all the crags.
By gunslingerz
Sep 25, 2012
I just bought the guidebook. The baby rating is very helpful. I am trying to strike a balance between a crazy four year old girl who has no interest in climbing and a seven year old who wants to climb but gets frustrated as dad climbs routes too difficult for him. What area/routes would you suggest that has a baby rating of 3 or 4 but also has some easy routes (or at least easy to start) that would help a kid build confidence as he learns to climb?

Keep in mind I max out at about 5.11 so I'm also looking for an area that won't kill my bail-biner budget. Guide is helpful, but slim in the 5.4- 5.7 kid friendly area.
By Mikel Cronin
Sep 26, 2012
Finding routes in Speafish in the easy ballpark is tough. I really hate to say it but Skeletal Remains holds the grades and kid environment you are looking for. It is the worst area for quality routes and true canyon feel. Custer State Park or Mt. Rushmore are much better areas for kids who actually want to climb. The limestone tends to be hard for kids to gets skills on.
By Tane Owens
From: Denver, CO
Oct 16, 2012
Is there any place in Lead, Deadwood, or Sturgis that sells the Spearfish Canyon guidebook? I'll be driving through on Friday and would like to pick one up without having to go out of my way to Spearfish or Rapid.
By Mikel Cronin
Oct 18, 2012
No but they do sell them at Cheyenne Crossing at the top of the canyon. Might want to call them and see what their fall hours are. If you are near rapid city I can sell you one tomorrow (Friday).
By Meg33
Apr 2, 2013
Hi there, we're hoping to take a first trip to Spearfish this summer. Does anyone have any good recommendations for camping? Thanks!
By Brent Larsen
From: Spearfish, SD
Apr 11, 2013
The closest camping to The Sunshine Wall, The Darkside, The Danks and The Shadowlands is at Hana Campground. This campground is on the left-hand side of Hana Road which you can easily find if you are close to the Cheyanne Crossing Store. Hana is a paid campground and has water, fire grates and outhouses onsite. "Free Camping" can be found about two miles up the road from Hana. This free camping is less than desirable though since it is in the middle of a mosquito infested field of grass. If you want to be closer to Mohican or Blueksky good pay campsites can also be found at Timon and Rod & Gun Campgrounds which are few miles past Roughlock Falls, which is near Spearfish Canyon Lodge. There are some "free camping sites" up past the paid campgrounds but access to them is sketchy and puts you very far away from the climbing. PLEASE DO NOT CAMP IN THE PARKING LOTS NEAR THE CRAGS! Climbers in recent years have been getting away with this but Forest Service Law Enforcement Patrols get really grumpy when you do. Please keep these parking lots clean. Climbers are the first people to get blamed when trash and doo-doo accumulate in them.
By dyager
From: Fort Collins
Apr 25, 2013
Can any locals comment on the current snow levels in the canyon? (Camping, approaches, base of cliffs). I assuming it will be melted out pretty good by the weekend. Thanks!!
By Brent Larsen
From: Spearfish, SD
Apr 25, 2013
Spearfish Canyon is a bit odd during the months of April and Early May. During this time of year we typically get our biggest snowfalls. However, the temps are usually warm (45-75 degrees F) and you can climb anywhere. Bring your snowshoes, winter boots, hats, gloves and down coats. The Sunshine Wall will still be your best bet in terms of having no snow on the trails or at the base of the cliffs. This time of year the Sunshine Wall gets blaring sun and stays nice and toasty until about 3 or 4 pm. However, the downside to the Sunshine Wall is the massive amount of water that soaks the climbs right after a fresh snow starts to melt. This melt might last a day or two and you are good to go. The trail going to Mohican will be knee high snow but the routes get sun in the morning and there are many places like the Wars Wall that are overhanging and the belay stations and hangs will be clear of snow. Indecent Exposure is great this time of year. Even though the trail is full of snow the belays and hangs are typically snow free and once Indecent goes in the sun it stays in the sun till dusk. Oddly enough, even though there is snow up the wazoo, crags like the Shadowlands and The Dojo get rip roaring afternoon sun and the rock stays fairly dry. There are also new routes at The Ice Box that get lots of sun and are a very short hike if the snow on all the other trails is an issue. Word of caution! Melting snow at any crag in Spearfish Canyon means that rock fall from above could be an issue. Wearing a helmet and using common sense about where you climb and hang is advised. If camping is what you want to do during this cold time of the year I'd choose Hana Campground for its close proximity.
By dyager
From: Fort Collins
Apr 25, 2013
Thank you Brent! Much appreciated.
By Richard Harrigan
May 15, 2013
I will be passing through Spearfish and am hoping to get out for an afternoon. Like to do a bit of toproping, solo usually due to lack of partners but would like to know if anyone can recommend a crag with a few good routes in the 10 to 12 range that can be tr'd and where I wouldn't be tying up the routes for others. Thanks!
By Vance White
May 16, 2013
Can anyone recommend a great motel to stay at in spearfish?
By dyager
From: Fort Collins
May 17, 2013
Anybody know what the current road conditions are into the VC? Is it possible to get a car in there or is a high clearance vehicle mandatory? Thanks!
By AndrewR
Jul 27, 2013
Hey all, coming to climb in a few days. I can't find the guidebook recommended to me by a friend (mike cronin's). Do any of you know of a place near spearfish that would carry it? What about a place that climbers meet, camp, congregate, etc.? Any help would be greatly appreciated. You can email me directly if you want, Thanks! Andy (rzepka@parknicollet.com)
By Chris treggE
Administrator
From: Madison, WI
Jul 27, 2013
blackhillsclimbingguide.com/
By dyager
From: Fort Collins
Oct 15, 2013
Can anybody tell me if the walls tend to seep after rain/ snow? If so, which ones seep more/less. More specifically, does thunderhead seep? Thanks!
By tim naylor
Jan 15, 2014
rifle sucks! this is the new mecca? for hard sport?
By Brent Larsen
From: Spearfish, SD
Jan 15, 2014
I wouldn't say Rifle sucks...but Spearfish Canyon is better!
By Steve Pulver
From: Williston, ND
May 27, 2014
I have never been here before. Are there any routes where I could easily set up a top rope? 5.9-5.11
By R.Walters
May 29, 2014
The cliff tops are very difficult to access in the canyon, so there is not really any top roping. Check out falling rock near rapid city.
By Dreez
Jul 2, 2014
Hey There,

As I have also put up many routes at home I would like to give a huge thanks to Mike C. and everyone else for the HUGE effort,time,etc they put into this place. I personally understand the effort it took to not only put in the routes, but the trails, the politics, and the guidebook.

With that said, this is a great place for 5.11+ climbers. Just look at the guidebook and you will see that 90% of the routes are for the young muscle dogs. Old people like me will barely make it up the 5.9's, will get spit off the 5.10a's and don't even think about the 5.10b's. Plus aside from a couple crags, the moderates are interspersed amongst the 5.15's so its a long day and hike to hunt down and do the few moderates...and to be honest they are OK but not great.

Once again, don't want to take away from this fantastic playground and the money and time and effort that went into it. Just want people to understand there is not an abundance to choose from for old frail people (as is Muir valley in Red River Gorge or 10 Sleep).

Thanks again for your efforts,
dreez
By Mikel Cronin
Jul 3, 2014
Thanks for the props on the area. It has taken a lot of people a lot of time and effort to get the area established. But no matter how hard we look the moderates just don't exist in the canyon. We as a group have decided to not bolt a crappy little face just for an easy shitty route. You are correct in saying that Spearfish Canyon is mainly 5.11 and up. Those are the grades that make this area shine. We also don't have the crowds like the areas you mention. The lack of moderate grades helps with that, which is a good thing in the locals eyes. We don't want an overcrowded, tp infested area that crowds create.
Thanks again for the compliments on the area
Mike
By Chris treggE
Administrator
From: Madison, WI
Jul 4, 2014
A cool feature of mountain project is the "Difficulty Rating" graph for each area (scroll up on this page). For Spearfish, it looks like a nice bell curve centered at 5.11, but actually slightly skewed towards the 5.10 side and away from the 5.12 side. Looks like there are about 150 5.11 routes, 130 5.10 routes, and 120 5.12 routes, with maybe 60 5.9 and under routes.

Thanks for the hard work Mike, and good to see you out there a couple weeks ago at the Shadowlands/Icebox.
By Schwab
From: South Dakota
Jul 5, 2014
Old people should go to cliffs of doom. We only allow Cronin to climb in the canyon anymore because he still remembers how to get back to the old folks home.
By evan h
From: Denver, CO
Aug 1, 2014
Hey guys...I have one confirmation that cell service is available up here, but I wanted to check with some of the locals. I need to be available via cell, and I use Verizon. Any issues? Thanks and looking forward to checking it all out!
By lets climb
Sep 11, 2014
Hey I'm trying to climb the next couple days in the canyon, let me know if anyone wants to get out! 207 749 03five4
By Ballsnauer
Sep 18, 2014
Hello all, my name is Braden. I'm from Ohio and I'm here in Spearfish. I'm looking to climb for the next couple days and need a partner. I climb 12- in the Red River Gorge but am looking to get spanked on what SD has to offer before I hit up Ten Sleep. Thanks! Email me at bradenalsnauer@gmail.com if it's easier