REI Community
South Seas

Select Area...
Bird's Nest 
Bull Rock 
Child's Molar 
Critical View 
Hornets Nest 
Reef 1 
Reef 2 
Reef 3 
Shark's Tail 
Sharks Fin 
Shipyard Rock 
Toy Boat 
Toy Tug Boat 

South Seas Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 43.8864, -103.467 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 72,797
Administrators: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Madsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Andrew Gram on Jun 24, 2002
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Mr Critical - One of the best in Rushmore.

Check NPS for Closures


South Seas is an excellent place to begin sampling Rushmore. There is an abundance of excellent sport routes from 5.6 to 5.13 here, and a smattering of trad routes as well. Most routes end on top of spires requiring raps to get down, which means there aren't very many routes to toprope. No approaches take longer than 30 minutes.

Must do routes include Waves, Solitaire, Lead Fillings, Mr Critical, and Ladies in Love.

Getting There 

South Seas is just a few miles from the faces on Mt Rushmore. From Rapid City, take Rushmore Road(US 16) up into the hills. Exit at SD244, drive through Keystone, and drive up past the faces. The parking lot is the large pullout at the Mt Rushmore National Monument sign as you are leaving the monument heading west on 244. Descend the trail on the north side of the road, and the spires come into view in about 20 seconds.

Climbing Season

Weather station 0.9 miles from here

86 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',8],['3 Stars',36],['2 Stars',35],['1 Star',7],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in South Seas

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for South Seas:
Boxcars and Airplanes   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Sharkstooth
Second Hand Rose Arete   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 155'   Hornets Nest
Surging Wave   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 60'   Shipyard Rock
Solitaire   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Borneo
Stormy Night   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Cavity
Shark's Breath   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Sharks Fin
Dirty Earnie   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Bull Rock
Not Too Steep for my Lichen   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   Bull Rock
Shark Bait   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Sharks Fin
Bolts for Bobs   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Borneo
Waves   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 2 pitches, 180'   Shipyard Rock
Tsunami   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Shipyard Rock
Lead Fillings   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Child's Molar
Critical View   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Critical View
W.A.S.P. (center variation start)   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 165'   Hornets Nest
All Tuckered Out   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Shipyard Rock
The Pollinator   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Hornets Nest
Pelican's Dike-ination   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Borneo
Mr. Critical   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 140'   Hornets Nest
Beetle Juice   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Hornets Nest
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in South Seas

Featured Route For South Seas
Rock Climbing Photo: Satermo on lead fillings

Lead Fillings 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a  South Dakota : The Needles Of Rushmore : ... : Child's Molar
Lead Fillings is one of my favorite routes at Rushmore. To reach the route, scramble up slabs at the base of Child's Molar towards the obvious large chimney. Then descend slightly left to a small stance with a bolted line above it.Follow the bolts (several, well protected) on the left side of the formation to a fixed anchor. Rap off with one rope off the back side....[more]   Browse More Classics in South Dakota

Photos of South Seas Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappelling off of waves
Rappelling off of waves
Rock Climbing Photo: Old 1/4 inch bolt
Old 1/4 inch bolt

Comments on South Seas Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 26, 2013
By Bob Archbold
Sep 16, 2002
BEWARE, BEWARE, BEWARE!!!!!!! Some one is chopping routes of their bolts in the Rushmore Area. Ron Yahne and I have been diligently replacing bad bolts and anchors for the last three years in the Rushmore area to make the area SAFE. We are now discontinuing our bolt replacement and Anchor replacement program. We WILL NOT replace or repair any bolts or anchors. Apparently someone doesn't like the bolts there. But beware, THERE ARE ALOT OF BAD BOLTS AND ANCHORS in the Rushmore area that still needs to be replaced. Someone else can do them or the person that has recently chopped some routes can go back and replace the ones he removed. Climb at your own risk and don't DIE cause of someone else removing routes.RUSHMORE IS BECOMING A DANGEROUS PLACE TO CLIMB!!!!!!!!!
By Unassigned User
Sep 17, 2002
Bob - Please don't let the actions of (a few) others alter the good work you are doing to keep all climbers safe. Most of us appreciate running into a brand new bolt (where a 1/4" one once 'stood')!

If you would like assistance in your rebolting project (and I really hope you decide to continue) please contact the American Safe Climbing association.See if they can assist you with funding, etc.

Angela ~~

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory." - Gandhi

"If you have a rebolting project that needs help, or if you have any comments or Suggestions for the ASCA please contact us at:

American Safe Climbing AssociationPO Box 1814, Bishop, CA 93515(650) 843 1473Website: "

By Andrew Gram
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 17, 2002
Any details on what has been chopped?
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 23, 2002
Arch,Don't let a few closed minded individuals sway you from what you have been doing. The work you, Ron and others have done is welcomed by 99.9% of the local climbing community.Bolt replacement and new routing are both gloriless and thankless tasks.Most climbers are not willing to invest in rebolting but will be quick to whine when they clip into a questionable bolt.Bolt replacement is each and every climbers responsibility... End of matter.No one individual should ever feel it to be his sole finacial responsibilty to rebolt any route.The Black Hills Climbers Coalition has plenty of extra funds but is not willing to donate to rebolting at this point.I have brought up the issue at several meetings only to have the issue sidelined.I disagree with the addition of new bolts on existing routes unless the first ascentionist agrees in an effort to keep harmony in our fractious community.Here is a challenge to each and every climber out there... Each and every time you start to talk smack about another climber set aside one dollar for bolt replacement.There is a a collection jar at Adventure Sports in Rapid City.If you are honest with yourself you will just go drop a twenty dollar bill in the jar right now.The time has come for the Black Hills Climbing Community to grow up, quite bickering and become a proactive community!Keep on crankin!"The Dakota Kid"
By Ryan Minton
Feb 21, 2003
I agree wholeheartedly with the above comment- your efforts do not go unnoticed. I for one am VERY appreciative for these safer bolts and anchors, and I think I speak for the majority when I say we all are- keep up the good work, if you would like any help, let me know!
By Andy Busse
From: Rapid City, SD
Jul 14, 2003
There seems to be a number of new climbs in South Seas (Squirrel Alley). Does anyone have any info related to these new routes? Thanks Busse
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 9, 2003
The bolts were replaced on "The Pelican's Dyke" and "Anaphylactic Shock" this summer. Enjoy! Your BHCC monies at work.
By Anonymous Coward
May 7, 2004
I just wanted to let everyone know that I've started working on the Black Hills Climbers Coalition website. My big contribution thus far is a page that lists out all the routes that have been repaired to date and a page that lists routes that are slated to be repaired. From this page I have set up a form that you can fill out to let us know what routes you want repaired first and what routes you would like to see added to the list. All this can be accessed from the "route repair" link at the top of the page. Here is the web address it out!Duane Martenson
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 4, 2004
I just wanted to let everyone know that I've returned from my summer travels and I'm back to updating the coalition's website. Go to to check it out. If you have any info you would like me to post email me at Put something about the Coalition web site in the subject line of the email so I don't delete your mail thinking it's spam.Duane
By Aaron Costello
From: Rapid City, SD
Aug 20, 2004
To ask a question first posed by Mr. Busse: Is there any information on the new routes in Squirrel Alley? There are some really fun routes there, and I appreciate whoever put in the effort to place them.Aaron
By Gary Schmidt
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 19, 2008
A 9 not to be take lightly in my opinion. Best be very solid at the grade for this one.
By Jason McNabb
Aug 26, 2013
Hello Everyone,
Beans and Biners is this Saturday August 31st at the South Seas area of Mt. Rushmore starting at 9:00 am. Come on up to hangout and enjoy the day. There will be food and climbing galore! Ron Yahne and Chris Hirsch are making a big batch of chili (prepare yourselves.....) and if you'd like to bring a side dish feel free to do so. Hope you can make it.

The BHCC Board

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About