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Cathedral Spires

S Dakota > Custer SP

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.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

I just happen to catch the right light on the way out of the park.  Cathederal Spires from the South
[Hide Photo] I just happen to catch the right light on the way out of the park. Cathederal Spires from the South
Evening view from the top of Khayyam Spire.
[Hide Photo] Evening view from the top of Khayyam Spire.
Spires in the rain.
[Hide Photo] Spires in the rain.
Spires<br>
[Hide Photo] Spires
Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
[Hide Photo] Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 gulley.  June 08.
[Hide Photo] Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 gulley. June 08.
The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Bartizan.  I've labeled them to the best of my knowledge using the Piana map for the one's I'm not personally familiar with.  If I've screwed something up, let me know. For those of you who haven't been to the top of Bartizan, the view is awesome and this photo does not do it justice!
[Hide Photo] The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Bartizan. I've labeled them to the best of my knowledge using the Piana map for the one's I'm not personally familiar with. If I've screwed something…
Cathedral Spires from the north.
[Hide Photo] Cathedral Spires from the north.
Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 Conn Route.
[Hide Photo] Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 Conn Route.
Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
[Hide Photo] Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just visible on the left skyline -- Spires 4-9 strung out in a line.
[Hide Photo] The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just visible on the left skyline -- Spires 4-9 strung out in a line.
Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from the top of Hairy Pin.
[Hide Photo] Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from the top of Hairy Pin.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] What's the best guide book for this area? Jul 29, 2014