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Elevation: 6,173 ft 1,882 m
GPS: 43.8436, -103.5628
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Joey Wolfe on Nov 8, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mikel Madsen, Mark Rafferty

Description Suggest change

Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota is a climbing area like no other, The Needles. From Sylvan Lake a road called the Needles Highway winds through spectacular and spell binding towers and spires. From this road climbers can access a playground of unparalleled face climbing on ever narrowing spires by way of quartz crystals ranging from tiny to hand sized.

 The area is steeped in a rich history dating back to Fritz Wiessner's accent of the Totem Pole in 1936. The area was then home to the prolific Herb and Jan Conn, two climbers way ahead of their time, who put up over 200 first ascents from their first visit in 1947 and eventual move to the area in 1949. In the 1960's climbers such as RoyalRobins, John Gill and Henry Barber put up routes that still wow climbers today with their high "pucker factor".

Locals such as Paul Muehl John Page, And Bob Archbold made their contributions to the Needle's catalog of bold climbs during the70's and into the 80's with the likes of Pete Delonney. The Needles has long been know for its purist ethics, which has made for some wild climbs and a Needles' staple, the infamous simul-rap. As Jan Conn said, "You can climb anything in the Needles, if you have the guts."

Custer SP is a world class destination not only for the climbing but also the absolute beauty of the place. Once there, the friendly people of Custer, the interesting scenery, and the relaxed park staff will make it hard to leave. While buying my $15 pass (7 days), I told a ranger why I was there. While we prepared to pull away he smiled and said, "You guys can go anywhere you want!" Yeah, if we have the guts.

Getting There Suggest change

Once in Custer take Hwy 89/385 east out of town and then left on to Hwy 89 north to the Sylvan Lake entrance to Custer SP. From here is where the Needles Hwy starts and heads south.

693 Total Climbs

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Location: Custer State Park Change
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Classic Climbing Routes at Custer State Park

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
 113
Conn Route
Trad 2 pitches
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
 189
Spire Four
Trad 3 pitches
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R
 81
Moonlight Rib
Trad
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 140
East Face
Trad 3 pitches
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 68
Second Breakfast
Sport
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 223
Conn Diagonal
Trad 3 pitches
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R
 64
International Chimney
Trad 3 pitches
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 64
Spire 1 Reppy Variation
Trad 4 pitches
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c
 196
Kamps Crack (Classic Crack)
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 190
Cerberus
Trad
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 47
Eyetooth
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 92
Waste Knot
Sport
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 63
Threading the Needle
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 62
Four Little Fishies
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 97
God's Own Drunk
Trad 2 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Conn Route Sylvan Lake > Photographers'… > Aquarium Rock
 113
5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a Trad 2 pitches
Spire Four Cathedral Spires > Spire Four
 189
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c Trad 3 pitches
Moonlight Rib Needles Eye Area > Fan
 81
5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R Trad
East Face Cathedral Spires > Spire Two
 140
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad 3 pitches
Second Breakfast Sylvan Lake > … > Towers of Teeth > Ephel Duath
 68
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Sport
Conn Diagonal Sylvan Lake > Outlets > Outer Outlet
 223
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 3 pitches
International Chimney Cathedral Spires > Spire Three
 64
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad 3 pitches
Spire 1 Reppy Variation Cathedral Spires > Spire One
 64
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 4 pitches
Kamps Crack (Classic Crack) Sylvan Lake > Outlets > Inner Outlet
 196
5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c Trad
Cerberus Tenpins/Switchb… > Tricouni Nail/Cerberus
 190
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Eyetooth Cathedral Spires > Eyetooth
 47
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad 2 pitches
Waste Knot Sylvan Lake > … > Towers of Teeth > Ephel Duath
 92
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Threading the Needle Needles Eye Area > Needle's Eye
 63
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Four Little Fishies Sylvan Lake > Photographers'… > Aquarium Rock
 62
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
God's Own Drunk Cathedral Spires > Khayyam Spire
 97
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
More Classic Climbs in Custer State Park »

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