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Conn Route 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b R

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 180'
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b R [details]
FA: Herb and Jann Conn
Page Views: 1,593
Submitted By: Andrew Gram on Jul 3, 2002

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Topping out on Dire Spire

Check NPS for Closures


A Needles style route right in the heart of Rushmore.

From the back of the spire(facing away from the road), climb a large chimney system until it blanks out against the upper part of the spire. Turn right, tunnel in, and then turn left into another chimney which takes you to a fantastic belay ledge at the base of the upper spire. This pitch protects well, but use very long runners as it is in the pitch travels in the shape of a big Z.

For pitch 2, take a deep breath and launch up the friction and crystal face. I only remember one bolt on this pitch, but there may be two. Regardless, it is very runout and frightening - falling before clipping the first bolt or just before reaching the summit will put you in the hurt locker for a long time.

This is the best summit at Rushmore, and one of the best perches in the Needles. A double rope rap leads to the start of the route.


Stoppers and a few medium cams for the first pitch, quickdraw for the second.

Photos of Conn Route Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Brenda nears the top of P2
Brenda nears the top of P2
Rock Climbing Photo: The councilman at the summit.  Crappy phone photo.
The councilman at the summit. Crappy phone photo.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the pitch 1 chimney system of the Conn ...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the pitch 1 chimney system of the Conn ...

Comments on Conn Route Add Comment
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By Ryan Minton
Jun 9, 2004

A good route, the second pitch gets exciting towards the top with some thoughtful moves and some decent exposure. This route is worth doing at least once.
By Aaron Costello
From: Rapid City, SD
Jul 19, 2006
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

The first pitch is fun, and as is written, use long runners for the "Z". When you 'tunnel in' you are presented with three options: a slightly overhanging handcrack (East), and puff-n-grunt off-width (middle), and an easy ramp (West). I chose the easy ramp, but it caused heinous rope drag. I slung the horn before the belay ledge, which gave my second the choice of the puff-n-grunt or the ramp. He chose the former. The belay ledge is nice and wide, with many slots for cams and nuts. There is also a sweet hole you can thread a bomber nut through.

The second pitch is nuts. The 'bolt' spins like a windmill. You just have to point your nose up the rock and trust your skills. The summit offers fantastic views, and cars will honk at you on P2. The rappel bolts aren't the best, but they did the trick.

I'd do it twice.
By Jason McNabb
Jan 23, 2010

BHCC replaced the hardware on the Conn route this fall. We replaced the single bolt and put a new anchor on top. We moved the anchor to the summit as opposed to the thumb on the edge to make a better/safer hang for climbers on the summit and a better rappel. Rap to the south slightly instead of down the chimney at the start to avoid getting your ropes stuck in the chimney on the first pitch. I agree this is one of the better summits in the hills and is worth doing multiple times.
By Rich F.
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jul 8, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

I need to pay more attention to these comments. I took the "easy ramp" on the far right for the first pitch -- fun, casual, though since I only placed two pieces of gear on the pitch, a fall getting on that ramp would have been long and painful. But, the "ramp" really was easy. When I looked at that new single bolt placed about 15 feet above the belay ledge on the 2nd pitch, it didn't look too risky at all. Granted, a fall onto the boulders on the belay ledge would have been painful from there, but there were pretty large crystals to stand on to get to that clip. The "R" pitch really didn't look that bad, so up I went. It really wasn't a bad pitch either...until the last few feet to the top. Maybe I missed the route, but for one fairly frightening move, I had no real hands or feet, and was pretty much relying on just friction to stay on the pitch. A fall from there would have surely decked and broken some bones. This is a good route...but the "R" really felt like it. Leading this climb once was enough for me -- I'm not that good of a climber :-)
By Wilson On The Drums
From: Woodbury, MN
Nov 3, 2012
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

as far as the first pitch goes, I would say avoiding putting any gear in until the "easy ramp." i had only one piece in before that with a double shoulder length sling and the rope drag was horrible. it's possible to rap with one 70m rope (with some down climbing (10ft at most) on an easy ledge.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Jul 1, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

The second pitch is especially frightening if you miss the bolt.

However I think the Conn's probably did it without a bolt in the 50's, so if you want the True Conn experience it's definitely the way to go. :P

Also on the plus side there is no rope drag if you don't clip anything.

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