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Routes in Primal Wall Area

American Life S 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Apollos Crack T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Green Ranger T 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
SGT Baker T,S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Southbound Pachyderm T,S 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Things that Shouldn't be T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
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Type: Sport, 155 ft
FA: Ron Yahne, Travis Rypkema, and Vern Phinney
Page Views: 1,130 total · 16/month
Shared By: Wilson On The Drums on Dec 16, 2012
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty

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Best done as 1 full pitch (155ft), but it can be broken up in 2 using the mid route anchors. The climbing is sustained, but perfect for those looking to get into the 5.9 grade. I wouldn't say that there is a distinct crux... a little route finding goes a long way and trusting your feet is essential. If anything, going from the bolt before the mid route anchors to the bolt after the anchors is the crux. Great climbing on great features, get on it!


Park at the Horsethief Lake pull-off. Cross the street towards the guard rail, find the well defined trail and follow it 10-15 minutes. At some point you will stop following the trail (the Primal Wall will be in sight) go down a steep hill, cross the creek, and work your way up to the wall. There are 2 bolted routes on the wall, this is the leftmost.


13 bolts, mid rap anchors, and 1 optional gear placement down low before 1st bolt= 15 draws total. (gear placement down low could be anywhere from BD C4 0.4 to 2)


This route is listed as a 4-star two-pitch 5.9 in the Busse/Burre guidebook to Rushmore area climbing. I hiked out with my sister to climb it on 6/23/14 and was very surprised to find that the rock on the route was brittle and low-quality. The first bolt is 25 feet up, and I broke two non-crucial holds on the way up to it. I was just a bit perturbed but decided to press on, only to break off a major foothold about 5 feet above the first bolt and take a short whip. At this point we decided to pass on completing the climb. Maybe I just had bad luck and I don't wish to discourage others; but I hope this serves as a friendly warning to people interested in the route that the rock seems less sound than many other nearby Needles routes! Jun 25, 2014
Nathan Collins
Portland, OR
  5.9+ PG13
Nathan Collins   Portland, OR
  5.9+ PG13
Like Mike Cohen, we also found the rock quality poor. The first bolt is quite high, with a little "real" climbing right before reaching it. Our leader placed gear in the horizontal crack below the first bolt (C4 #2 or #3 and C4 #1). You can clip the first bolt from this horizontal crack, but on the way to getting her feet to the horizontal crack she went right and her foot hold broke off! She hung on her hand holds and didn't fall, but it would not have been pretty if she hadn't held on and hadn't placed the optional gear ...

The original leader got spooked and came down so I lead the route. The climbing was good -- a lot of delicate friction/slab moves, and not always obvious to me -- but I had a large hand hold break off as I was testing it.

I give the route a PG13 rating if you don't place gear on the way to the first bolt. Sep 3, 2015
I found this route to be the perfect escape from my not-so-perfect American Life. I broke no holds, thanks to all the people, who cleaned the choss before I got there, and experienced nothing but total bliss the whole time I was off the ground. I did the whole thing in one big pitch trailing two 70 meter ropes and rapped off without injury or insult. I found the climbing to be a lot easier than many other routes that claim the grade. And I even found an empty turtle shell by the creek...which is a perfect my ever growing collection of turtle shells. I did sustain an injury while barbecuing later that evening but I don't blame that on the developers. Next time I will be sure to use tongs...while barbecuing that is...not while climbing. Why would anyone climb with tongs? Thanks for a great climb, Ron, Travis and Vern! We'll be back for the other routes soon. Sep 20, 2015
Kittery, ME
Cron   Kittery, ME
A really nice approach and easy to find. The opening moves can be protected with a 0.5 about half way to the first bolt. I broke one small hand hold shortly after the first bolt, rock quality was otherwise great the rest of the route. We did it in one long pitch trailing 2 70 m ropes for a quick and easy rap. Soft for 5.9. Jul 10, 2018

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