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Spire One East Chimney

5.7+, Trad, 200 ft (61 m), 3 pitches,  Avg: 3.1 from 38 votes
FA: Herb and Jan Conn, June 1952
S Dakota > Custer SP > Cathedral Spires > Spire One

Description

This route takes the squeeze chimney (see photo) on the east side of Spire 1 all the way up to about ten feet below the big ledge with the bolts for the first belay. The remaining pitches follow the standard path around the ledges and back again as follows:

Pitch 1: 110 feet, narrow chimney (5.7+) -- The chimney has great crystals/friction for climbing, but squeezes you very tight about 40 feet up and then it's a real grunt from there for the next 30 feet. I walked up a big #5 camalot for protection in this tight section. The rest of the chimney can be protected with cams from #1 to #4. Ten feet below the fist belay ledge the chimney ends, and you step left and do an easy face climb to the ledge. Two new bolts with a chain are about chest level, eight feet to the right of where you top out on the large ledge. You end up directly above the start of the chimney.

Pitch 2: 25 feet, 5.3 -- from the belay bolts at the top of pitch one, work your way around the ledge to the right (facing the rock) 180 degrees to the opposite side. Set a comfortable trad belay with cams from #1 to #3 at the base of a large flake.

Pitch 3: 50 feet, 5.7 -- This is a fun, short pitch with fantastic exposure. Climb 8 feet up the flake and set a piece of protection, make a very exposed (5.7) long step right to another flake/small ledge where you can set more protection, then take a small step across to the main rock and scramble fifteen feet up an exposed face (5.5) with nice holds/feet. There's an old piton at the top of the face scramble wedged beneath the summit block. Clip the piton (or place a cam) as a directional for your follower, then work back left on the upper ledge all the way back around the summit block 180 degrees (easy, but no hands really). You will end up about 40 feet directly above the 1st belay station bolts. Again there are two new bolts and a chain about chest high on the rock for this belay.

(Pitch 4 -- Summit Block): 12 feet, 5.3 -- easy climb up the moderate angle wide crack to top of the summit block. Enjoy an amazing view (see photo), then downclimb back to the bolts (there is no hardware on top of the summit block).

Descent: Two rappels gets you back to the start of the chimney. The first rappel is about 40 feet down from the upper bolts to the big ledge with the lower bolts directly beneath. The second rappel is about 110 feet from the pitch 1 bolts to the start of the route. If you don't have a 70M rope, then you will need TWO ROPES for the bottom rappel.

NOTE: I used a 70M rope and it just barely reached the ground with about 4 feet to spare. If you don't have a 70M rope, you will need a DOUBLE-ROPE rappel to get down from the big ledge to the base.

Overall this was a great climb. I loved how it wound it's way around the rock to the other side, then back again. The squeeze chimney is very tight in places, but I still highly recommend this climb.

Location

Take the Cathedral Spires trail from the Cathedral Spires parking lot (next to the ten pins area). It's about a 3/4 mile hike through the woods and across a small creek. The trail is well marked and used by lots of hikers. Keep on the main trail as it goes left around the Cathedral Spires. Just as you pass all of the Spires on the left (at the gap between the Cathedral Spires and the Picket Fence) you will make a sharp right and hike uphill to Spire One. It's pretty obvious which is Spire One as because it is on the far back left of the Cathedral Spires and has an unusual summit block on top. It probably took me about 30 minutes from my car to hike to the base of the climb at a nice leisurely pace.

Protection

#5 Camalot to protect the squeeze chimney crux
#1-#3 camalots (as many as you wish to carry up the 110 ft chimney)
I saw two old pitons in the back of the chimney (but could only reach one -- arms were too short).
No bolts at the very top of the summit rock -- but it's an easy downclimb of about twelve feet to get to the modern bolts/chain at the top of pitch 3.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

On top of Spire One with the Councilman.  Classic!  Photo AJ Christnovich from Spire Two summit.
[Hide Photo] On top of Spire One with the Councilman. Classic! Photo AJ Christnovich from Spire Two summit.
AJ on top of pitch 1.  Taken from atop Station 13.
[Hide Photo] AJ on top of pitch 1. Taken from atop Station 13.
2nd pitch 180 degree traverse.
[Hide Photo] 2nd pitch 180 degree traverse.
Brenda on the summit of Spire One with the "Picket Fence" in the background.
[Hide Photo] Brenda on the summit of Spire One with the "Picket Fence" in the background.
Brian on top of the squeeze chimney on his first trad lead.  Nice work!  Taken from the summit of Station 13.
[Hide Photo] Brian on top of the squeeze chimney on his first trad lead. Nice work! Taken from the summit of Station 13.
The view from the Cathedral Spires trail as you are nearing the spires.  Spire One is on the back left.
[Hide Photo] The view from the Cathedral Spires trail as you are nearing the spires. Spire One is on the back left.
Looking up at Spire One from the backside.  This is the view after you hiked on the main trail past the left side of the Cathedral Spires, then you cut back sharply right and walk uphill to Spire One.
[Hide Photo] Looking up at Spire One from the backside. This is the view after you hiked on the main trail past the left side of the Cathedral Spires, then you cut back sharply right and walk uphill to Spire One.
Looking down from the summit block to Brenda standing at the bolts at the top of pitch 3.  The narrow spire in the background is "Station 13."
[Hide Photo] Looking down from the summit block to Brenda standing at the bolts at the top of pitch 3. The narrow spire in the background is "Station 13."
Looking up the squeeze chimney on Pitch 1 to the ledge above.
[Hide Photo] Looking up the squeeze chimney on Pitch 1 to the ledge above.
Brenda at the base of the chimney ready for Pitch 1 on Spire One
[Hide Photo] Brenda at the base of the chimney ready for Pitch 1 on Spire One

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Tim McCabe
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] FA June 12, 1952 Jun 12, 2011
chris tregge
Madison WI
 
[Hide Comment] The squeeze chimney is kind of a bear, but protects really well.

You can get all the way down from the top with 2 60's.

Rope drag can be tough on the first pitch if you mess up your rope management or run out of slings.

Fantastic spire climb! Jun 28, 2011
Sam Cannon
Salt Lake City, UT
  5.8
[Hide Comment] I've done a fair amount of chimneying in my short climbing career, so take this with a grain of salt. I didn't have any 4s or 5s and only placed one 3 and felt fine. I didn't feel a definite crux, just felt like secure 5.8ish chimneying. No OW'ing necessary. Apr 8, 2015
Barndawg TheFirst
London
 
[Hide Comment] pure joy from start to finish. the final roped pitch is wild exposure but with easy climbing. Sep 24, 2015