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Unsorted Routes:

Star Dancer 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 105'
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Mike Engle, Vernon Phinney, Howard Doyle -1985 Ground Up
Page Views: 6,450
Submitted By: Anonymous Coward on Oct 1, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (98)
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Kasi nearing the top of Star Dancer. Great face cl...

Check NPS for Closures


Follow the directions under the Marker area. Star Dancer is found about 2/3 the way up the drainage / gully, on the right (of course). There is a large (20-30') boulder lying against the rock, Star Dancer starts just to the right of this.

As this is a popular route, you can scope the route by just looking at the polished / rubbed off holds all the way up the rock fin. The first bolt is a bit off the ground; one may clip it off the boulder if desired. After that, continue up the steep face choosing the biggest & best crystals you can find. If I remember correctly, there might be a bit of a friction move here & there, but for the most part there are nice, positive holds all the way. I don't recall the exact bolt count, but there are lots of them & the climb is a full 100'.

Descent is by rappelling the face you just climbed. By angling to the climber's left a 60m rope should just touch down. If you've got a 50m trail a second rope.

For additional fun, the climb Jupiter Fly By may be TR'd by rapping to climber's right to the JFB anchors. In a pinch this would be an alternate descent if you're stuck at the summit with a 50m rope...


10 bolts plus something for the 2 bolt anchor on top.

Photos of Star Dancer Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Paul Huebner moving up on his tippy-toes. (Photo b...
Paul Huebner moving up on his tippy-toes. (Photo b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dipping for some courage. (Photo by Lenore Sobota)
Dipping for some courage. (Photo by Lenore Sobota)
Rock Climbing Photo: Paul Huebner belaying Anne Meyer up Star Dancer.
Paul Huebner belaying Anne Meyer up Star Dancer.
Rock Climbing Photo: Robin Bickford 5/07
Robin Bickford 5/07
Rock Climbing Photo: Some guy from Colorado leading Stardancer, 1997
Some guy from Colorado leading Stardancer, 1997
Rock Climbing Photo: TR on Stardancer.  Use long runners on the top to ...
TR on Stardancer. Use long runners on the top to ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Clinging to some sweet crystals on StarDancer.  (P...
Clinging to some sweet crystals on StarDancer. (P...

Comments on Star Dancer Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 22, 2015
By Bob Archbold
Aug 7, 2002

This route was first climbed by Mike Engle. It was drilled on the lead. Mike's first wife Sherri always thought Stardancer would be a nice name for a route. So when Mike saw this route he knew he would use Sherri's Stardancer for the name.

Alot of the route information for Rushmore including first ascent names can be found in Vern Phinney's Guide book for Mount Rushmore. He is currently working on a new edition which should be out next spring.
By david Schneider
Jun 16, 2003

The crux move is about 2/3rds up. A little left traverse with not much for hand holds. You have to trust your feet. It's well bolted though because the bolt is near the crux move. If leading this climb is beyond your comfort zone, you can scramble from the backside to set up a top rope. Be safe and clip in while fiddling around at the top. Then after you top roped it you'll wish you would have just lead it! (been there, done that!) :-)
By chad m. davis
Aug 15, 2004
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Did not think this climb was worth the effort it took to achieve the summit. There was no payoff that warrents this climb any stars ... let alone any dancing.Counted 10 clips. I recomend that if belaying inbetween the boulder and the climb for TR, that you leave in a draw at bolt 5 or 6, clipping it back into the system upon lowering. Doing this will prevent an ugly swing into the gully that separates Stardancer from Solo System.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 16, 2004

An all-time classic. A must do for everyone. Deserves five stars on the three star system. It is hard to invision someone not having a great time on this climb. Less elaboration, more upward motion. Sorry you had a bad day.
By Brad Boner
Aug 16, 2004

This was my first lead in the Hills, and it freaked the hell out of me. I had the chance to do it again last summer and found it was still well worth the time. I think this route has gotten a little harder over the years as some small crystals have seemed to have broken off near the top, and it may go around 5.9 these days. A well-protected route, however, and a must-do in my opinion. I feel like you're on your own on this one, Chad, as just about every regular Black Hills climber I know holds this one in high regard and consider it a Hills classic, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I hope you'll give it another chance some day!
By Andrew Gram
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 16, 2004
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I think it is hard to imagine a better 5.8 frictiony sport route anywhere. I haven't done it since probably 1996, but it felt like very average 5.8 at that time.
By DakotaToni
From: Rapid City
Aug 16, 2004

I agree with Brad. This climb has had crystals broken off and is probably closer to a 5.9. I also agree that this is one of the classic climbs in the area.

BTW Brad, how are things going in western Wyoming?

By Brad Boner
Aug 17, 2004

Hey, Toni (and to all my other BH climbing homies),

Western Wyoming has been completely refreshing, you might imagine, compared to my former residence in Gillette. A whole new crop of wilderness to explore, and we've been really taking advantage of it. But even with all these mountains and all that rock in my back yard, I still miss the Black Hills. Hope to make it back before the snow flies, so keep in touch.

Heading up the Grand this week, so wish me luck

By Paul Huebner
From: Portage, WI
May 4, 2005
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I've only led this route twice. Both times it was the highlight and last climb for those two trips right before facing the 770 mile drive home. In any case, it's a fantastic climb even though the top doesn't have a summit-like view. Also, for me, the crux was near the top just above the last bolt.
By Gary Schmidt
From: Boulder, CO
Jun 25, 2007

Classic climb that will keep you on your toes (hopefully) the whole way. Crux is near the top when things smooth out a little, probably 5.9 at that point. We counted 13 bolts plus two for the anchor. 60 meter ropes barely gets you down but does the job.
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Dec 17, 2008

I thought this climb was outstanding. Sustained and thoughtful. It see's a lot of traffic.
By mason boos
From: fo co
Mar 30, 2011

a must do if your around! and to the left there is a route you can top rope on to get nice n' warm.
By Paul Huebner
From: Portage, WI
Sep 17, 2011
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Just repeated Star Dancer and either I'm getting too old (turn 65 this Tues.), or the moves for the hands above the last bolt are definitely 5.9 smears.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Apr 25, 2014

I agree 5.8 seems a bit sandbagged, but the worst part of this excellent route was the fear of the cheese grater effect from potentially falling. Thanks to Aaron Costello for not making excessive fun of me for squealing like a schoolgirl upon making the crux move up high over the slabby bulge.
By grega Albrechtsen
Jun 22, 2015

12 bolts? 13 bolts?
I could only find about 10. Any idea if i was on the wrong route? Generally easy climbing but kinda spooky with the "mising" bolts. The "runout" was through all last three bolts.

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