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Original Route 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 130'
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Dave Rearick and Bob Kamps (Aug 16, '65)
Page Views: 171
Submitted By: Bryan G on Aug 14, 2014

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (7)
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The original route tackles the obvious crack system on the Northwest side of the formation. One of the guidebooks I looked at gives this one a 5.9++, which is a grading system I'm not familiar with but as far as I can tell equates to roughly 5.10c in the Yosemite Decimal System. (for posterity, I've maintained the 5.9+ grade here for this route listing).

Don't worry though, you get the crux out of the way right in the beginning as you tackle an overhanging bulge with long reaches between flared jams and handholds. Then angle left along a handcrack to reach a fist to offwidth size flake. There's a stardrive bolt here which unbelievably had a bail biner on it, so you know that sucker is at least good for body weight! After that is a tricky transition to another crack out right, then more steep climbing with some stemming past an old set of bolts to a new set of bolts w/chains about 15' below the summit.

You can go to the top in one pitch by continuing straight up the chimney, or you can do a second short easy 5th class pitch up a ramp around right (this is the way you'll be climbing back down to the rap anchor, since there is no anchor on top). To descend make a rappel from the chains with either two ropes or one 70m rope (the ends of our 70 were swayin' in the wind when we started the rappel, but with rope stretch they just barely touched down by the end).

This is a fantastic route that has it all - excellent sustained crack climbing, radically steep and exposed, great rock, a beautiful freestanding formation, cool summit, and this line is basically the only way to the top unless you climb like really, REALLY hard stuff. Out of probably close to 100 climbs we did in our 2 weeks in the Black Hills, this was my favorite for sure. Go get it!


Numerous cams from small to 4.5" (a double set at least to 3.5" wouldn't hurt), nuts, and some shoulder length slings to reduce drag.

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By Owen Murphy
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jun 1, 2017
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

We were in the area cruising around the classics and this caught our eye. This route was truly phenomenal. Memorial Day and not another climber in sight. The start is definitely the crux but there's another difficult section just before the final offwidth. So much rad stemming!! I think I laughed a little maniacally through a good part of this. We think that it felt like 10b. The gear is great and the moves are incredible. Definitely something to remember. We left a beer up top for the next lucky party, better go get it...
By DanielJames
From: Custer, SD
Aug 23, 2017

Incredibly fun route. For the start you can alternatively go up the wide lefthand crack and traverse right at the horizontal crack. I can't say if this way is easier or harder, but decided it looked fun enough to take it this way. This easily takes large gear, I placed two old-school fours for that section (but also removed them to re-use later in the climb and reduce rope drag). Up towards the top you have the option of going into the chimney or going to the right up a hand/fist crack that fades out. I went with that option which worked well.

As for the top, if you do not wish to do the scramble on the side, you can very easily run your rope around a very large feature of the summit above the end of the crack and do a short rappel from this to the actual anchors. We had no issue pulling our rope down when doing this.

(Also, summit beer is still in effect for this)

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