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Cathedral Spires

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Cathedral Spires Rock Climbing 


Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 43.8487, -103.5333 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 59,024
Administrators: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Housiaux, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Peter Gram on Jun 24, 2002
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Description 

The Cathedral Spires hold some of the longer routes in the Black Hills. This is a great place for beginners to learn how to lead multi-pitch trad routes (classic 3-pitch routes that go at 5.4 and under). Also, there are many more challenging area classics. Most routes lead to awesome small summit perches.

Make sure to check out the standard routes on Spires 1-4, Station 13, God's Own Drunk, and Cat's Meow. Many routes have great belay ledges, and most all routes require a rappel (often needing double ropes). Few bolts exist, so bring a standard rack for almost every route. However, many fixed anchors are available.

The Cathedral Spires are numbered 1 through 9. There are roughly 75 summits in all in this small area, and many main gully systems for approaches. Nine main rock systems exist (each separated by a gully) with the highest spire given the number 1 through 9. The gullies become fairly unclear between Spires 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Getting There 

Follow the signs from Hill City to Sylvan Lake. At the Sylvan Lake entrance, pay the entrance fee, then drive 2.2 miles on highway 87 past the Needle's Eye, through the tunnel, and park at a small lot that is located on a tight hairpin curve. The Cathedral Spires can be clearly seen towards the north, and Sandberg Peak (5.8) is the cool rickety spire next to the lot.

Hike north towards the Cathedral Spires on trail #4 from the parking lot. Watch out for a faint trail leading off to the NE as you get close to the spires. Approaches vary per spire, but either follow the main trail up the hill and approach from the back side (uphill side) of the spires, or take this trail junction for lower spires.

At this point, usually a map is needed to choose the correct gully to hike up. Find out the appropriate gully and look for landmarks. The widest gully is the Spire 4-5 gully. Another landmark to look for is Khayyam Spire. It is located at the bottom of the Spire 2-3 gully, and has a steep yellow face on its south side.


Climbing Season



Weather station 5.0 miles from here

83 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',25],['3 Stars',42],['2 Stars',14],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',10],['5.7',16],['5.8',7],['5.9',13],['5.10',11],['5.11',13],['5.12',10],['5.13',3],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Cathedral Spires

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Cathedral Spires:
Spire Four   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, 3 pitches, 210'   Spire Four
East Face   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Spire Two
The Great Northwest Dihedral   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 280'   Spire Four
West Gruesome   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 2 pitches   Spire Four
North Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Balcony Point
East Chimney Variation   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Station 13
International Chimney   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Spire Three
Spire 1 Reppy Variation   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 215'   Spire One
Eyetooth   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Eyetooth
Crystalline Lady   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13     Trad, 120'   Spindle
God's Own Drunk   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 320'   Khayyam Spire
South Tower Conn Route   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches   Spire Four
Cat's Meow   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 3 pitches, 200'   Spire Three
East Gruesome   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R     Trad   East Gruesome
Hang a Right at Fourth Avenue   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 220'   Spire Four
Tagua   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Tusk
A Place Beyond the Pines   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 115'   Javelin
Bourbon and Butterflies   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b R     Trad, 1 pitch, 140'   Khayyam Spire
Silk and Sangria   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Trad, 2 pitches, 240'   Khayyam Spire
Highly Suspicious   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Station 13
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Cathedral Spires

Featured Route For Cathedral Spires
Rock Climbing Photo: Luke Ross nearing the top of Tagua on a perfect Ju...

Tagua 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b  SD : Custer State Park : ... : Tusk
One of the best 5.10s in the Park, a true overlooked classic. The crux comes early passing a bolt, though it is sustained throughout following a steep finger/hand crack. Many locals "favorite 5.10" in the Spires. On an ecological note Tagua is imitation ivory made from the seeds of the Tagua Palm tree found in the Pacific coasts of the tropical regions between Colombia and Ecuador....[more]   Browse More Classics in SD

Photos of Cathedral Spires Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Evening view from the top of Khayyam Spire.
Evening view from the top of Khayyam Spire.
Rock Climbing Photo: Spires in the rain.
Spires in the rain.
Rock Climbing Photo: Spires
Spires
Rock Climbing Photo: Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral Spires from the north.
Cathedral Spires from the north.
Rock Climbing Photo: Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 C...
Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 g...
Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 g...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Barti...
BETA PHOTO: The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Barti...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just vis...
BETA PHOTO: The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just vis...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lily in the Spire 2/3 gulley.  June 08.
Lily in the Spire 2/3 gulley. June 08.
Rock Climbing Photo: Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
Rock Climbing Photo: Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from...
Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral Spires from the top of Nantucket Sleighr...
BETA PHOTO: Cathedral Spires from the top of Nantucket Sleighr...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Spires from a slightly different angle.  May 0...
The Spires from a slightly different angle. May 0...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lillies of some sort on the way to the Cathedral S...
Lillies of some sort on the way to the Cathedral S...
Rock Climbing Photo: EARLY morning shot
EARLY morning shot
Rock Climbing Photo: The spires with a storm brewing
The spires with a storm brewing
Rock Climbing Photo: Messing around with Photoshop.
Messing around with Photoshop.
Rock Climbing Photo: No matter how many times I see this scene I cannot...
No matter how many times I see this scene I cannot...
Rock Climbing Photo: Spires from Andrew Tower. July 2013.
Spires from Andrew Tower. July 2013.
Rock Climbing Photo: A pic from the trail
A pic from the trail
Rock Climbing Photo: Cathedral Spires from the north atop Little Devils...
Cathedral Spires from the north atop Little Devils...
Rock Climbing Photo: spire 4 and eyetooth
spire 4 and eyetooth
Rock Climbing Photo: Spires 1 through 4 from the Picket Fence.
Spires 1 through 4 from the Picket Fence.

Show All 43 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Cathedral Spires Add Comment
Show which comments
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 8, 2003
WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMBING IN THE BLACK HILLS THE SPIRES ARE ABOUT AS GOOD AS IT COULD EVER BE. BEUTIFUL TEMPS KNOWBODY AROUND AND SUPER LONG ONE PITCH ROUTES PLUS SOME MOST EXILLENT MULTI PITCH ROUTES SUCH AS CONN ROUTE ON RYBIUAT, THE YELLOW WALL, AND WINDOW TO THE WEST. IF YOU DONT GO THERE ENOUGH YOU WILL NEVER FIGURE THE PLACE OUT SO IF YOUR LOOKING FOR A CHANGE OF PACE FROM THE SHMORE OR CANYON WHATEVER HEAD ON UP TO THE NEEDLES & HOP ON SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER DONE.
By Ryan Minton
Nov 25, 2003
Is anyone aware of whether or not any ice forms in the Spires during the winter months? The Worm Hole Route on Spire 4 gets pretty wet in the summer at times, maybe there would be some potential for ice to form? Any info is appreciated...
By john bradley
Jun 6, 2007
hey danno,
I recommend summer. SD is usually windy and even on a calm day you'll feel it on these spires. Of course I'm little picky tho.
john
By joelhagan
From: Rapid City, SD
Jun 10, 2007
I've been climbing every month this year!!! It's always a good time to climb the Black Hills.
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Jul 15, 2008
If climbing Freaky Fright, Myopic Matron, or other small spires in the area, take webbing, rap rings, and/or extra pro to replace or back up anchors. Freaky Fight's anchors, for instance, are especially in disrepair. Two 30 year-old pitons equalized with aged 7-8 mm cord.
By CCas
From: Chicago, IL
Jul 29, 2014
What's the best guide book for this area?
By Bryan Bielicki
From: livonia, MI
Aug 3, 2015
planning on coming down to the area in a few weeks, would love to know if there is any camping close to the cathedral spires? preferably free :)
thanks a ton!
-Bryan