> Custer SP
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.
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.
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.
Spires in the rain.
Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
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…
Cathedral Spires from the north.
Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 Conn Route.
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.
Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from the top of Hairy Pin.