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Shark's Breath

5.7, Sport, 80 ft,  Avg: 3 from 138 votes
FA: Vernon Phinney and Mike Engle 1987- Ground up
S Dakota > Needles Of Rush… > Mt Rushmore Nat… > S Seas > Sharks Fin
Access Issue: Check NPS for Closures Details


Shark's Breath can be found in the Rushmore guide book, but the bolts have recently been upgraded and a couple have been added. The pro is now better than the description in the guidebook.

Climb the bolt line that parallels the arete. Some moves seem better on the face, than hanging off the arete, and the new bolts suggest a more face-oriented route.


Well protected with about 10 bolts (recently replaced).

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Taken through binoculars from Picture Window.
[Hide Photo] Taken through binoculars from Picture Window.
Climber on Shark's Breath, Mar 11, 2012
[Hide Photo] Climber on Shark's Breath, Mar 11, 2012
Paul Huebner leading Shark's Breath.
[Hide Photo] Paul Huebner leading Shark's Breath.
Shark's Breath
[Hide Photo] Shark's Breath
Shark's Breath
[Hide Photo] Shark's Breath
Shark's Breath
[Hide Photo] Shark's Breath
Shark's Breath and Rappel
[Hide Photo] Shark's Breath and Rappel
Use a double length sling on the last bolt while leading Shark Bait or Shark's Breath. It sure avoids a lot of friction on your rope while belaying up your partner(s). Just make sure the rope clipped biner hangs below the rock bulge.
[Hide Photo] Use a double length sling on the last bolt while leading Shark Bait or Shark's Breath. It sure avoids a lot of friction on your rope while belaying up your partner(s). Just make sure the rope clipp…
Brenda works the Shark's Breath arete while a climber rappels from Shipyard Rock next door.
[Hide Photo] Brenda works the Shark's Breath arete while a climber rappels from Shipyard Rock next door.
Trent gets lots of practice back-clipping.
[Hide Photo] Trent gets lots of practice back-clipping.
Dave Meyer (78) and Lenore Sobota on summit of Sharks Fin.
[Hide Photo] Dave Meyer (78) and Lenore Sobota on summit of Sharks Fin.
Byron leading up Shark's Breath
[Hide Photo] Byron leading up Shark's Breath

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] Whats up with all the retro-bolting and squeeze jobs going in at Rushmore?

When I did this back in 95 or so it had two bolts and was scary, but all there - not nearly as frightening a lead as lots of stuff in the Needles. At the top, you had a choice between simulrapping off the top or downclimbing quite a ways to the Captain Hook anchors. There are an awful lot of bolt every 4 feet 5.7s at Rushmore - why did this route have to be declawed?

Next thing you know the Conn Route on Dire Spire or the Great Dihedral will grow a line of bolts. Jul 30, 2002
[Hide Comment] The bolts were added by the request and consultation of the First Ascentionist. They wanted the route to reflect what they had started to create, protected climbs for climbers of all levels in the Rushmore Area.

Bob Archbold Aug 7, 2002
[Hide Comment] I have been repairing routes and replacing anchors in the area for many years. I've finally decided that instead of just repairing routes at Rushmore that I am going to add bolts to eliminate dangerous fall potential. I don't take these decisions lightly. Whenever possible I contact the first ascentionist first. Many of the easier routes at Rushmore were put in by people leading well below their limits, and therefore they ran it out (it felt easy to THEM). Sharks Breath is a good case in point. Anyone that has done it with the additional bolts and doesn't like it, please feel free to skip as many of the bolts as you need to to feel bold- or just look for harder routes. OR, the Sylvan Lake needles area has maintained it's status as a scarey, traditional area with plenty of 1/4 inch bolts. Rushmore is primarily a sport area, hence the repairs. Just because something is easy for YOU doesn't mean that it doesn't need protection. 5.7 leaders like bolts too and deserve to be safe. Unfortunately, Rushmore has very few moderate/easy climbs that are well protected. Climbing at Rushmore should be about fun. If you have problems with the stance I have taken feel free to talk to me about it at 1-605-719-9168 but don't be a coward by destroying my work! Aug 29, 2002
Andrew Gram
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] Wow, I really stirred some stuff up.

Thanks for the explanations Ron and Bob. I don't think anybody will be doing any chopping at Rushmore - I always highly recommend the place to anyone I know as the finest area anywhere outside the Gunks for the beginning climber, and that is due to the huge concentration of aesthetic safe climbs under 5.8, which are only possible with the work people like you guys have done. In recent years I've seen some climbs I think are a little on the gridbolted squeeze job side(and I still think that first bolt on Sharks Tooth is silly), but after thinking about it for a bit adding bolts to Sharks Breath is a good thing. I wouldn't be happy if bolts were added to the Conn Route on Dire Spire, Gilson Chimney, or the Wiessner route on Olton's Shoulder - but based on your posts it doesn't sound like that is part of anyone's agenda.

I just wonder how long the Needles will hold out as the special unique area it has always been. I enjoy hard(for me anyway) safe routes in the Needles like Just My Baby and Me and Tracks of the Turkey that are on nondescript blobs, but I think it is sad that Sandberg Peak and apparently other aesthetic formerly bold spires are being bolted into submission. Aug 30, 2002
[Hide Comment] To Ron and all the rest of you bolters. You guys don't even know who the 1st acentionist are since they were done back in the early 60's and early 70's. It seems that maybe you should all go to a gym if you want to dummy down every rock and line you come to. With that said, I do not, nor do I condone any chopping of bolts. Bolt chopping and bolting just needs to stop. My wife gets tired of taking pictures of beautiful rock formations with a bunch of hardware sticking out of it Sep 28, 2005
[Hide Comment] AC I respect your opinion of not retro bolting routes in areas, however it seems to me that South Seas is an area that beginner climbers, and those who wish to step up to the next grade, can venture to without risking life and limb on a bad fall. South Seas is one of my favorite areas just for that reason.I am not a great climber, and I still hate to fall, but I do like pushing myself while knowing I can drive myself to my limits without risking a 20 foot plus fall.Lets not over bolt routs, like some in South Seas have been done, but lets keep the climbing safe.If you want to show everyone you have a big jimmy go to the Needles or Sylvan and climb a 70 foot 5.7 with two bolts.Better safe than dead.Remember it's not the fall that kills, just the sudden stop. Sep 30, 2005
[Hide Comment] To the AC whose wife was offended:You seem to be speaking from a very uneducated perspective about bolt replacement that occurs in the Black Hills area. First off Ron Yahne is a pillar in our climbing community. He has fostered the climber/land manager relationship with great poise and dignity longer plus more effectivly than any other climber in this area. Many great great things have come from Ron's continual hard work. It is very unfair to condemn Ron or the others performing bolt replacement with permits from SDGF&P (Custer State Park) or the NPS (Mt. Rushmore & Devils Tower). Land managers have faith that the permited climbers will make good choices and use only camoflouged bolts, hangers and anchor materials to complete any route repairs.

All bolts and anchors replaced since 2000 by the Black Hills Climbers Coalition are camoflouged and are very difficult to see even as one climbs past the camoflouged hardware. The BHCC has set minimum standards of camoflouged, stainless steel bolts 3/8" x 3 3/4" to maximize the longevity of replacement intervals. It is very hard to believe Ron had anything to do with the shiny bolts you refer to as offending your wife and her photo pursuits.

No laws have been broken by Ron but more a personal violation towards Ron has been commited on your part for shooting first then asking questions. Furthermore Ron is as educated as anyone around here in the climbing history of the Black Hills. Ron has been an active part of climbing history since the early 70's.

I might suggest you please think about what you can do for world peace, alternative fuel sources and the reduction of hunger, homelessness and poverty in general next time you feel the need to attack someone. Enough said for now.

Sincerely,Another aging longterm Black Hills local Oct 5, 2005
[Hide Comment] Sweet... It's great to see another thread of senseless bickering about retrobolting. It's been awhile. While we're at it, let's fight about new routes in the Needles or chipping holds in Spearfish Canyon. I eagerly await the day when this site becomes COMPLETELY devoted to those who would rather fight via the internet rather than actually contribute something useful.

Having been away from the Hills for a couple years now, I enjoy checking this site from time to time to see who is dredging up old, hashed-out arguments. It's also comforting to realize, too, that people are too busy bickering to contribute information on some of the new, marvelous routes I hear have been going in. God forbid anyone should actually add something useful.

-B Oct 6, 2005
Paul Huebner
Portage, WI
[Hide Comment] I just found this great route last week. I agree that there are a lot of bolts below the short crux. I only had 8 draws on my harness at the time and had thought the anchors were lower. Anyway, I ended up having to skip 3 of the last 4 bolts and agree with the commenter that suggests just skipping pro that you don't think is necessary for you. Then two days later I took a party of 3 up the route and one man had just turned 78. I don't think he would've climbed the route without the great pro and that reminded me that safety and fun always should win out over machismo. Oct 1, 2006
[Hide Comment] This is a great route. Good holds except at the crux where there is a short blank spot, but the holds are still good holds there. A great route for climbers just starting to lead. And you people arguing about all of this bolting, WHO CARES, the ones putting more bolts are good people with saftey in mind, not every one can easily climb 5.7. Cant we all just get along. Oct 30, 2006
[Hide Comment] I love this climb. I'm a chicken leader and this is fun a route which I am comfortable bringing beginner climber/belayers on. It's easy enough to rappel with one 60m rope, but if you're coming down in the dark you may want to use 2. We almost had a bad thing happen there once.

For a bonus you can easily toprope a 5.8 and a 5.11. I don't find either of those routes particularly noteworthy, but it's rock and certainly worth going up if you're there. I've also belayed someone from the anchors along the ridge to the anchors of Captain Hook, which IS noteworthy, and toproped that. Nov 3, 2007