All Locations > South Dakota > The Needles Of Ru… > Horsethief Lake Area > The Chessmen > Breaking Wave Spire
Avg: 3.9 from 8 votes
|Type:||Trad, 200 ft, 2 pitches|
|FA:||Herb and Jan Conn (of course) in 1958|
|Page Views:||339 total · 17/month|
|Shared By:||Bob Moseley on Jun 26, 2016|
|Admins:||Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty|
DescriptionAn outstanding backcountry outing. No crowds here. The Rushmore guide has good description of the climb: P1 – left-right diagonaling crack; P2 – short crack-to-chimney section to gain E arête then to summit. A clean, two-rope rap from bolted anchors down S face brings you to within a few steps of your packs. It's a four-star climb and four-star descent.
LocationWhile the climb and descent are totally straight forward, locating the base is anything but. Make sure you leave enough time and have the right frame of mind for some adventure (meaning be ready for dead ends and retracing steps). AB and AB call it the W face in their guide. It is actually mostly S, maybe slightly SW. This was confusing when trying to locate the route, which is a difficult-to-locate approach even with good directions. But their lat-long coordinates are spot on.
When heading up the valley, as per guidebook, there is a faint old Forest Service trail that you will use down low. Eventually the grade steepens and you lose the trail completely due to all the bug-killed downfall. But persevere, keep heading up valley, it’s worth it and doesn’t last too long. One good thing about all the dead and down trees is that its open and you can see the Chessmen off to your right. Keeping track of them using the guidebook photos, you can easily pick out the Breaking Wave spire upvalley from the Chockstone chimney. As you pull abreast of BW spire, you will look across the thickly vegetated gully and wonder if there is a gap in the apparent wall of lower spires that can deliver you to the base of the climb. There is not. Keep heading up valley another 100 m or more above the BW spire and you will be able to barely pick out - through the vegetation - a narrow gap in the protective wall. This is the one.
Bushwhack across the drainage to this gap and enter a small, forested valley. Hug the right hand (N) wall as you ascend the steep side valley, skirting around some big boulders and eventually hitting two short slabs. Between the boulders and the slabs, look back and right (N) and you will see a short scramble to a broad “pass” with some trees visible at the top. This brings you into another smaller, more isolated valley with scattered trees. Head N, this time hugging the left wall, past a grassy corridor through the wall, to a second corridor guarded by “the boulder” mentioned in the guide. The base of the climb is behind the boulder. You will see the route on the face above you.
We did not do the direct scramble as described above. We didn’t see it and continued up the two slabs, passing a small gap/pass to a larger pass that we walked through at the top of the valley that brings you over the divide to the W side. Walk N from this gap between trees and rock walls for <100m and you will come upon a surprising, narrow grassy corridor that takes you back across the divide to the east side and the more direct approach route described above.