Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Eyetooth

5.8, Trad, 150 ft (45 m), 2 pitches,  Avg: 3.8 from 36 votes
FA: Bob Kamps, Mark and Beverly Powell
S Dakota > Custer SP > Cathedral Spires > Eyetooth

Description

Walk around the front of Eyetooth to enter the Chimney on the Southeast side (separating the main mass from the large outer "flake"). 

Climb easily up to the top of the chimney and belay on the southwest shoulder at the crack leading up and left. Follow the obvious crack up and left on to the southwest side of the spire. There is a fixed pin in the crack up high if I remember correctly. 

Move up out of the crack and right onto the south face to clip a big new bolt (better than the scary old nail that used to stick out of the face). The angle eases off on the face and the climbing changes completely. The face is very small crystals which you friction and smear on and palm a few holds - really cool.

 Climb up to the beefy 2 bolt anchor and belay. A double rope rappel brings you to the base of the route. 

Classic Needles must do with good gear, fun climbing and good exposure on one of the coolest spires in the Needles.

Protection

Standard rack, fixed gear.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Eyetooth from the top of first pitch of East Gruesome
[Hide Photo] Eyetooth from the top of first pitch of East Gruesome
Another shot near the top of Eyetooth.
[Hide Photo] Another shot near the top of Eyetooth.
Jay coming up the Eyetooth.  May 09.
[Hide Photo] Jay coming up the Eyetooth. May 09.
The view of eyetooth while rappeling from Spire 4
[Hide Photo] The view of eyetooth while rappeling from Spire 4
5.7 handcrack start, fun climbing with great gear. Plumb line with summit allow for a one pitch climb with minimal rope drag.
[Hide Photo] 5.7 handcrack start, fun climbing with great gear. Plumb line with summit allow for a one pitch climb with minimal rope drag.
This is the view of the gully you want as seen from the climber's trail.  You can't really see the spire until you've gone up the gully a ways.  You'll also see an obvious fork of the climber's trail at this gully headed left up into the gully.  Take that
[Hide Photo] This is the view of the gully you want as seen from the climber's trail. You can't really see the spire until you've gone up the gully a ways. You'll also see an obvious fork of the climber's tra…
Eyetooth from downhill in the Spire Four-Five gully.
[Hide Photo] Eyetooth from downhill in the Spire Four-Five gully.
Nate Erickson and Dova Tawoda on Eyetooth. 7/6/18.
[Hide Photo] Nate Erickson and Dova Tawoda on Eyetooth. 7/6/18.
High up on Eyetooth.
[Hide Photo] High up on Eyetooth.
After climbing this formation a couple times via different lines, I think this is the 5.8 line most would consider the easiest way up Eyetooth.  After the first gulley pitch (dotted line - gulley not able to be seen from this angle) belay from the ledge, and go right up the large flake, making your way up and left via the flakes to the final bolted slab.
[Hide Photo] After climbing this formation a couple times via different lines, I think this is the 5.8 line most would consider the easiest way up Eyetooth. After the first gulley pitch (dotted line - gulley n…
Jay on Eyetooth 5.8 route.  From the top of this flake, high and left into the next smaller flake, then high and left again into the corner cracks, to the top.
[Hide Photo] Jay on Eyetooth 5.8 route. From the top of this flake, high and left into the next smaller flake, then high and left again into the corner cracks, to the top.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Another classic route. It reminded me of the Sierra Nevada due to it's rock and alpine flavor. We did it as one LONG pitch with double ropes, but I did experience some nasty rope drag on the upper friction face. On the presumably original line, you will achieve the "shoulder" as stated in the above description (more of a ledge and the begining of the nice face), run up a great layback flake (runout above the ledge, traverse left to a fold with a pin in it (manky), continue up and left to knobs, traverse to west side where another old manky pin can be found, then above and right (south face again) to the last face passing two new bomber bolts to the anchor. You can find an RP placement between the two old pins and maybe sling a couple knobs as well. Bring one set of nuts, medium sized cams, a few RPs, and lots of slings (including several shoulder length). Avoid a loose death block about 40 feet up and next to the first layback area (if you end up starting where I did that is...). Jun 25, 2004
Eric Krantz
Black Hills
  5.9 R
[Hide Comment] On the SW (Tusk) side of Eyetooth, a nice 5.6 (?) crack leads up to the ledge, and can set a belay there. Full rack.

Anchor bolt on the right is loose. Not just the hanger but the bolt itself wobbles.

This is a scary lead, the pins (especially the first) do not inspire confidence. My partner and I agreed that if the first pin was removed it might leave room for a nice alien placement.

eric Jul 18, 2006
chris tregge
Madison WI
  5.8
[Hide Comment] Anyone have beta on the route most people take? We missed the first piton by climbing up the twin crack system to the left of the belay ledge, but felt harder than 5.8. We climbed directly up from below the climber here but on the rappel we saw the first piton we had missed by going the way we did. If most people clip that one, it looks like you would need to start on the huge layback flake to the right of the belay ledge at the top of the gulley. In any case, great route, no matter how you get up. The twin cracks protect reasonably well, but going that way you miss a pin, FWIW. You can do the route with one 60m rope, split into 2 pitches, first pitch ends at the top of the gulley at the belay/rappel horn. However if you get your rope stuck when you pull it on the second pitch you might wish you had 2 ropes. Jun 2, 2009
Tim McCabe
Tucson, AZ
 
[Hide Comment] Not surprising that the bolts on the summit have loosed up. The rock up there is as I recall very grainy. Almost like the hole top is exfoliated (like there are micro air pockets).

Are the old pins still up top. The old rap off of 2 pins in behind a very exfoliated flake never inspired confidence. I always brought along a big sling for the summit as a backup anchor.

Then I would send everyone else down with the backup in place. I figured if the pins had just held the other guy I could expect to live also. Feb 1, 2011
Joe Brannan
Lyons, CO
[Hide Comment] The approach was cool and the position was good, but the climbing on this was very mediocre. P1 is a class 4 chimney with a bit of either more chimney or a barb flake to finish. P2 starts from a platform below a dirty crack (committing move to get established above the belay) and only turns into good climbing (and only 20 feet of it) once on the crystal encrusted face above. I'm glad to have climbed it, but expected far more from a 4 star rated climb.

After reading comments above, I we definitely climbed the twin cracks Chris mentions. Stick to the flake and maybe its 5.8 and a better climb. Aug 5, 2012
Wilson On The Drums
Woodbury, MN
 
[Hide Comment] apparently can be done one of two ways. one being the original route 5.8+ and the other being 9+ if not 10. it looks like the original route goes straight up a layback flake, this will bring you to the first piton. the way we took was pretty far left and climbed a shoulder with an actual crack, not a flake. the moves were hard and the gear wasnt the best but it was all there and was really enjoyable. done this way you'll miss the first piton and end up at the second piton where you then will join the route and finish heading up the slab past the 2 bolts. fun moves and a great climb. wouldnt be a bad idea to bring doubles of larger bd cams 2,3,4 b/c the belay takes bigger gear and the layback flake would protect well with those sizes. Jun 20, 2013
Robbie Freidel
The Needles of South Dakota
[Hide Comment] BETA. as far as the first pin goes, the twin cracks is the original route. the pin is even further left then what you climb up, so anyone who missed the pin still probably went up the riginal route just didnt traverse far enough to see the pin. After going up the easy flake/ crack to a good stance with three cracks in your face, Keep moving left. like 5 feet at least. its further over than you would expect and hidden. As far as the 5.10 variation goes. i dont know of anyone who has climbed it. it is really run out, hard, and sustained. it goes straight up that steep thin crack as apposed to moving left towards the pin. i only know of one person who screwed up bad enough to try it and took a far larger whip than desireable. hope it helps. anyone else have any insight? Jul 3, 2013
Ryan Emery
Black Hills, SD
 
[Hide Comment] I have had lots of confusion while trying to do this route. I made it to the belay ledge and my partner decided to go up and right on a huge flake system. He then clipped a fairly new bolt. I was told this was not the 5.8 route. I was told by a few very good locals that the easier route goes up the crack to the left when on the belay ledge. Also we had to bail on the route to the right so we never made it to the summit. Is it a two pitch rappel or can you make it off in one with a 70m? Sep 17, 2015
chris tregge
Madison WI
  5.8
[Hide Comment] Ryan: 60M double rope rap will make it to the base from the summit. I don't think one 70M rope rap from the top would make it down.

My comments above reflect our confusion when first climbing this spire. We climbed what we think is the proper 5.8 way this past weekend. From the 1st pitch belay ledge you climb the huge flake to your right to the top of the flake, then reach left into another smaller flake system which has a piton in it. From there again reach/traverse up and left into the crack system that is on the left corner of the formation and climb up from there clipping another piton and onto the upper slab. Climb the slab up clipping 2 new bolts to the anchors.

This photo shows what I am saying: mountainproject.com/v/11201… Jun 13, 2016
Ryan Emery
Black Hills, SD
 
[Hide Comment] Chris, I appreciate the info! Made a successful summit of what felt like the right route! Great route with an awesome summit. The top section was a bit spooky I thought, smeary! Oct 21, 2016
[Hide Comment] Does anyone have info on or a picture that shows a moderate route up the cracks on the SW side of the formation? Apr 10, 2018
Alex Zucca
Salt Lake City, UT
  5.9+
[Hide Comment] Moving past the 1st pin is quite committing, exciting, and perhaps harder than 5.8
Amazing route. Great variety, unique adventure climbing throughout. May 27, 2020
Daniel James
Chicago / it's complicated
[Hide Comment] Anchors in good condition, with chain/rings.

80m gets you down, so long as you come down to the SE side with the 4th class chimney not the SW side with the 5.6(?) crack.

I'll generally second characterization of the alternate start of the second pitch as slightly harder and with adequate but not great gear. Jul 13, 2020