Elevation: 6,584 ft
GPS: 43.849, -103.533 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 106,059 total · 529/month
Shared By: Peter Gram on Jun 24, 2002
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty
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Description

The Cathedral Spires hold some of the longer routes in the Black Hills. This is a great place for beginners to learn how to lead multi-pitch trad routes (classic 3-pitch routes that go at 5.4 and under). Also, there are many more challenging area classics. Most routes lead to awesome small summit perches.

Make sure to check out the standard routes on Spires 1-4, Station 13, God's Own Drunk, and Cat's Meow. Many routes have great belay ledges, and most all routes require a rappel (often needing double ropes). Few bolts exist, so bring a standard rack for almost every route. However, many fixed anchors are available.

The Cathedral Spires are numbered 1 through 9. There are roughly 75 summits in all in this small area, and many main gully systems for approaches. Nine main rock systems exist (each separated by a gully) with the highest spire given the number 1 through 9. The gullies become fairly unclear between Spires 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Getting There

Follow the signs from Hill City to Sylvan Lake. At the Sylvan Lake entrance, pay the entrance fee, then drive 2.2 miles on highway 87 past the Needle's Eye, through the tunnel, and park at a small lot that is located on a tight hairpin curve. The Cathedral Spires can be clearly seen towards the north, and Sandberg Peak (5.8) is the cool rickety spire next to the lot.

Hike north towards the Cathedral Spires on trail #4 from the parking lot. Watch out for a faint trail leading off to the NE as you get close to the spires. Approaches vary per spire, but either follow the main trail up the hill and approach from the back side (uphill side) of the spires, or take this trail junction for lower spires.

At this point, usually a map is needed to choose the correct gully to hike up. Find out the appropriate gully and look for landmarks. The widest gully is the Spire 4-5 gully. Another landmark to look for is Khayyam Spire. It is located at the bottom of the Spire 2-3 gully, and has a steep yellow face on its south side.

103 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Cathedral Spires

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 109
Spire Four
Trad 3 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 86
East Face
Trad 3 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
 25
Jan and Jane Route
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 37
East Chimney Variation
Trad 2 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
 44
International Chimney
Trad 3 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 22
West Gruesome
Trad 2 pitches
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 23
North Crack
Trad 3 pitches
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 38
Spire 1 Reppy Variation
Trad 4 pitches
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 28
Spire One East Chimney
Trad 3 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 33
Eyetooth
Trad 2 pitches
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
 70
God's Own Drunk
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 21
South Tower Conn Route
Trad, Sport 2 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 14
Cat's Meow
Trad 3 pitches
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 12
Hang a Right at Fourth Avenue
Trad 2 pitches
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
 10
Tagua
Trad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Spire Four Spire Four
 109
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad 3 pitches
East Face Spire Two
 86
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 3 pitches
Jan and Jane Route Spire Two
 25
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13 Trad 2 pitches
East Chimney Variation Station 13
 37
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
International Chimney Spire Three
 44
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad 3 pitches
West Gruesome Spire Four
 22
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
North Crack Balcony Point
 23
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 3 pitches
Spire 1 Reppy Variation Spire One
 38
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 4 pitches
Spire One East Chimney Spire One
 28
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 3 pitches
Eyetooth Eyetooth
 33
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
God's Own Drunk Khayyam Spire
 70
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
South Tower Conn Route Spire Four
 21
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Sport 2 pitches
Cat's Meow Spire Three
 14
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad 3 pitches
Hang a Right at Fourth Avenue Spire Four
 12
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad 2 pitches
Tagua Tusk
 10
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
More Classic Climbs in Cathedral Spires »

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Photos

WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMBING IN THE BLACK HILLS THE SPIRES ARE ABOUT AS GOOD AS IT COULD EVER BE. BEUTIFUL TEMPS KNOWBODY AROUND AND SUPER LONG ONE PITCH ROUTES PLUS SOME MOST EXILLENT MULTI PITCH ROUTES SUCH AS CONN ROUTE ON RYBIUAT, THE YELLOW WALL, AND WINDOW TO THE WEST. IF YOU DONT GO THERE ENOUGH YOU WILL NEVER FIGURE THE PLACE OUT SO IF YOUR LOOKING FOR A CHANGE OF PACE FROM THE SHMORE OR CANYON WHATEVER HEAD ON UP TO THE NEEDLES & HOP ON SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER DONE. Sep 8, 2003
Is anyone aware of whether or not any ice forms in the Spires during the winter months? The Worm Hole Route on Spire 4 gets pretty wet in the summer at times, maybe there would be some potential for ice to form? Any info is appreciated... Nov 25, 2003
hey danno,
I recommend summer. SD is usually windy and even on a calm day you'll feel it on these spires. Of course I'm little picky tho.
john Jun 6, 2007
joelhagan Hagan
Rapid City, SD
joelhagan Hagan   Rapid City, SD
I've been climbing every month this year!!! It's always a good time to climb the Black Hills. Jun 10, 2007
randy baum
Minneapolis, MN
randy baum   Minneapolis, MN
If climbing Freaky Fright, Myopic Matron, or other small spires in the area, take webbing, rap rings, and/or extra pro to replace or back up anchors. Freaky Fight's anchors, for instance, are especially in disrepair. Two 30 year-old pitons equalized with aged 7-8 mm cord. Jul 15, 2008
CCas
Chicago, IL
CCas   Chicago, IL
What's the best guide book for this area? Jul 29, 2014