Elevation: 6,629 ft
GPS: 43.849, -103.534 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 20,263 total · 99/month
Shared By: Andrew Gram on Jul 9, 2002
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty
27°F -3°C
40°F - 34°F 4°C - 1°C
52°F - 36°F 11°C - 2°C
57°F - 40°F 14°C - 4°C
59°F - 38°F 15°C - 3°C
Memorial Day
48°F - 36°F 9°C - 2°C
50°F - 35°F 10°C - 2°C


Spire Four is the highest summit in the Cathedral Spires, and probably the most popular formation in the group. The view is spectacular, the rock is fantastic, the route unique, and the climbing superb. If you climb only one of the Cathedral Spires, this is the one to do.

Getting There

Hike the Cathedral Spires trail around to the backside of the spires. Hike up the Gully between Spires 3 and 4. A short stretch of 4th class or possibly low 5th class leads to a high saddle between the spires - rope up if you feel uncomfortable.

9 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Spire Four Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at Spire Four

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
More Classic Climbs in Spire Four »

Sun & Shade

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season


Eric Krantz
Black Hills
Eric Krantz   Black Hills
Climbed the chimney system that contains Hang a Right at 4th Ave. I wasn't on the Hang a Right crack, I stayed in the back of the chimney, and crawled into the large flake on the left to set an anchor in the chockstones that have been slung sometime in the past. Went out the opposite side of the flake (away from Hang a Right, up the South Tower side) up a crack that petered out after maybe 40 feet. There was no protection past this. Climbed the big juggy face for maybe 40 feet before stepping back across to Spire 4. It was very loose in places (especially the 2nd pitch face). Beware the desk-sized wobbly stone halfway up the crack in the 2nd pitch. I have to admit I was lost. The climb was fun but the runout was loose, and I couldn't protect my 2nd after the crack ended (the 2nd pitch was a sideways horseshoe). Aug 31, 2004
Mike Kubes
Fort Collins CO
Mike Kubes   Fort Collins CO
Super fun route! The guidebooks I have rate this route as 5.6+ and the other has it listed as 5.7. Nothing felt over 5.6 to me with the exception of the step-across, Maybe because it was super windy and I had tons of rope drag. The route is in the shade most of the day and a great area to climb on hot days. One 60m rope, nuts and cams 1-3 with a few runners would be plenty to get to the top. There are 3 bolted belay/rap stations on the route, all solid, with chains. The base of the route is marked by a big pine tree. I know, Big pine tree, sounds extremely vague but after the recent pine beetle kill and A LOT of chainsaw work by the feds, it will make sense. Jul 24, 2016
Daniel Evans
Phoenix, AZ
Daniel Evans   Phoenix, AZ
For someone without a guide book that has never been to the Cathedral Spires before, I thought that all of the beta, pictures, and directions on MP were either useless or overly descriptive to the point that it made something that should've been REALLY easy, somewhat difficult. So here is my trip report:

1 - Getting to the parking lot
Take Hwy 87 through the Sylvan Lake entrance, pay the fee, and just keep driving straight through (2) one-car tunnels, the second being just past the Eye of the Needle parking lot which will most likely contain a gaggle of tourists chasing around the resident mountain goats. Just drive through the tunnel if the goats are in there and gobble really loud like a turkey to scare them out, this worked well for us. Once you are past the tunnel, a few more switch backs will bring you to the extremely obvious parking lot for the Cathedral Spires trail head with the spires looming in the back drop. If you can't find this parking lot, then you probably shouldn't be climbing them. Park here.

2 - Getting to the base of the route
From the parking lot, the spires are located due north. Follow the main Cathedral Spires trailhead (traveling S --> N) until you reach the far left spire, at which point the trail curves up and hiker's left. We did not see any obvious paths, cairns, or "Climbing Spur" (whatever that is) marking any trails leading to the south side of the spires, and opted to follow the trail around the back side (north side) per the "Option 1" directions. So, if you don't want to bush wack just keep following the main trail up and left until you come around the back, or north side, of the spires. Once you have reached the point where you are on the north side of the spires, the picture posted above should be a familiar view with Towers 1 - 4 pictured from left to right, spire 4 being the tallest one on the far left. Find the path of least resistance (again, no marked trail or cairns here) and make your way to the divide between towers 3 and 4 as shown in the picture. Drop packs and belay at the large pine tree at the base of the route, or just scramble up P1 if your party is confident. The descent will bring you back to the same pine tree so leaving packs isn't an issue.

3 - The climb
Pitch 1 - From the large pine tree, scramble up the 3/4 divide between spires 3 and 4. I found the path of least resistance here to be on the climber's right. Once at the top of P1 there are bolted anchors to your immediate right, but I recommend that you do not belay here as you will want to move your belay up and left into the obvious cave-like feature before starting up P2 for the worm hole. At this point you are walking on flat ground anyway, so just walk around to the left and scramble 3/4 up the face. P2 is the water drainage chute to the climber's left and if you look closely you can see the light shimmering through the worm hole at the top. Just left of the worm hole, you can see the rappel anchors. (5.0)

Pitch 2 - As someone who leads 5.8/5.9 in areas like Joshua Tree and Tahquitz, I felt that this pitch was actually a little heady mostly due to the poor gear opportunities, suspect rock quality, rattly chock stones, and water run off. If all of the rock were dry and didn't appear as though it were about to snap off under body weight, this might go at the suggested 5.4 grade. But with the aforementioned conditions it felt a bit harder to me, 5.6 seems fair? Anyway, carefully chimney your way up this up into the worm hole. I have a 32" waist, 5'9" at 175 lbs, and I fit through on my first try though I did rip my shorts and feel my gear snag multiple times. Getting both arms through the hole before your head definitely helps here. I was initially planning on bypassing the worm hole by climbing the face to the left, but when I got up to it the rock quality looked brittle and the pro was run out for the first 15 ft. But if the holds didn't snap and send you cratering to the slab below, this would probably go at 5.6-5.7 face. After surmounting the worm hole, belay off of the bolted anchors directly in front of you. (5.6 PG-13)

Pitch 3 - Follow the path of least resistance, bypassing 1-2 noticeable 5.6-5.7 crux sections. Rock quality is much improved on this pitch and the climbing is really straight forward scrambling with really short intermittent sections of actual face/crack climbing. Try to only place gear when absolutely necessary on this pitch to avoid rope drag for the step across. The step across is extremely easy and not as committing as I expected. If I had to rate the step across by itself, I would say it goes at 5.2. (5.7 PG-13 for the hardest 1 move)

4 - Descent
Did anyone else experience a ridiculous amount of flies and bugs at the summit? We had no issues until we topped out, then it turned it something out of a national geographic film. Was kind of odd. Anyway, (3) Single rope rappels via the same route on bolted anchors with rings return you to the base of the pine tree. We used a 60 m rope without issues, but a 50 m would probably work as well.

Hope this clears up any confusion for those after me.

Cheers and safe climbing,

Dan Jul 13, 2017
Mike McNeil
Spearfish, South Dakota
Mike McNeil   Spearfish, South Dakota
I have always approached that route from the other side. There is also a very solid 5.8 or 5.9 about 350ft long right below the "3" in your picture. Super fun and sustained climbing. Take some big gear. I believe it is the Goldstone Kamps as listed in Piana's book. Jul 13, 2017