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Tenpins/Switchbacks Rock Climbing 

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Location: 43.8394, -103.5358 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Housiaux, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Andrew Gram on Jun 28, 2002
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The summits are small here....


The Tenpins/Switchbacks area is in between the Needles Eye area and the Cathedral Spires parking lot along the Needles Highway. The Ten Pins is the most interesting cluster of spires along Needles Highway. Tent Peg and the Tricouni Nail are classic reasonably protected moderates. End Pin, Hairy Pin, and Superpin are classic testpieces requiring a cool head and willingness to do hard 5.10 friction moves a *long* way above gear. There are a number of other interesting spires in the area besides the Ten Pins for those willing to explore.

Getting There 

Pass through the Needles Eye area, and descend down a series of steep switchbacks on the Needles Highway. At the bottom of th switchbacks, look on the right side of the road for a cluster of impressive skinny tower next to the road - these are the Ten Pins. Park in a pullout and struggle through the 15 foot approach.

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.2 miles from here

53 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',9],['3 Stars',29],['2 Stars',15],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Tenpins/Switchbacks

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Tenpins/Switchbacks:
Leaning Tower   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c X     Trad, 60'   Leaning Tower
North Face   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Podunk Pinnacle
Tent Peg   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Tent Peg
Phallus   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches   Phallus
Conn Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   King Pin
Regular Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 40'   Sandberg Peak
Anchors Away   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 60'   Fin
Cerberus   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Tricouni Nail/Cerberus
Dakota-Illinois   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 60'   Dakota-Illinois
Tee The Ball   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 165'   Someone Else's Peg
On Little Cat Feet   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Sandberg Peak
Standard Route   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Queen Pin
Laptad-Prince route   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 120'   King Pin
Loss of Sensation   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Reunion Rock
Barber Route   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b X     Trad, 160'   Superpin
Persistence   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Pawn
Nantucket Sleighride   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b R     Trad, 1 pitch, 150'   Moby Dick
Cleveland Route   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b X     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Hairy Pin
End Pin   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   End Pin
Quartz Jester   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b X     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   King Pin
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Tenpins/Switchbacks

Featured Route For Tenpins/Switchbacks
Rock Climbing Photo: Face climbing past the crux. June '07.

Nantucket Sleighride 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b South Dakota : Custer State Park : ... : Moby Dick
This ultra-classic route starts in the shallow (1-2 foot deep, right-facing) dihedral, facing the road. It protects well, albeit somewhat strenuously at times, in the obvious placements. Several placements and sizes of small to medium gear are available. Make a committing, but not too difficult move up and out of the dihedral to the bolt. Shake out the legs and arms then run up the fun face past several bolts to the groove where you'll make about a 30 foot runout for the anchors while ponder...[more]   Browse More Classics in South Dakota

Photos of Tenpins/Switchbacks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Tenpins and Switchbacks from the top of Khayyam Sp...
Tenpins and Switchbacks from the top of Khayyam Sp...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking at the Tricouni Nail, Super Pin, and Tent ...
BETA PHOTO: Looking at the Tricouni Nail, Super Pin, and Tent ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The switchback from above.
The switchback from above.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pins as seen from the Hairy Pin. From left to righ...
BETA PHOTO: Pins as seen from the Hairy Pin. From left to righ...
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo:

Comments on Tenpins/Switchbacks Add Comment
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By David Monger
Mar 10, 2003
In reference to the route that goes up the arete to the right of Trojan Determination, this route was rap bolted and I believe it is called, pardon my language, "Sport Fucking". It is kind of goofy clipping some of the bolts and I believe it is about 10b. A lot of people take their chances with this route so that they can safely climb the classic line on the rock via toprope!
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 11, 2003
Nope, its actual name is 'Trojan Condom-nation' as a comment on the poor style 'Trojan Determination' was put up in. According to underground climber lore, the first ascentionist was into this route so far over his head that he couldn't stop to put in a bolt until he got to where the existing first bolt is. Rather than retro-bolt to make a safe route, he chose to pretend he was a super climber stud and require every subsequent climber to risk his life to reach the first bolt or not climb it.

By Anonymous Coward
Aug 14, 2003
Also, with regard to the 'it was rap bolted' comment above, I happened along one day to see two people putting their gear away after adding the last bolt to that route. I did not witness any bolting so cannot say whether it was rap bolted or not (I didn't ask and I did not see any drill). One of the two went to find a third member of their party. I stayed to belay the other person to claim the first free ascent of the route and I seconded. The person who claimed the first ascent gave it the name I mentioned above and called it 5.10 a/b.
By Bob Archbold
Aug 20, 2003
To the Anonymous Coward Your underground lore is very incorrect. I would say that I was not over my head, but rather not very rich in 1979 to on that particular day that I climbed Trojan Determination I only had a total of two bolts to my name along with a small selection of pitons for doing that route. I sat at the bottom of the route examining the route and making the best plan for using the reources I had at hand. I planned to go up the trough then exit early to get to a location where I could place the first bolt I then wanted a piton placed in the first crack to protect me while I moved to the place where I wanted to place the second bolt. Then it off to the crack where I placed my second piton(which has now been replaced with a bolt, which I gave my blessing to) So your source I wouold most likely say is wrong, especially since I don't remember anyone else there except for the two people that climbed the route with me at the time, and a few passing tourist. I guess your source could have been one of the tourist who didn't know what they were talking about. This climb was thought out how to go up it and to get what I felt was good enough protection at the time. To say I didn't get scared would be a lie but it was a matter of learning to keeping your head on runouts. An art that many climbers today are losing.
By Tim McCabe
Oct 16, 2006
I can still remember the first time I lead Trojan D my climbing mentor sent me up a gully to the left. This put me up at the same level as the first bolt just to the left. Perhaps the fear of reaching out to clip that bolt is why I remember it so clearly. Latter I started doing the route by starting in the proper place and found it to be a very rewarding lead. I always liked to start way right moving up and left into the trough this helped me to get into the flow of the route. As for the run out I think it is typical of what was going on at the time not just in the hills but in a lot of climbing areas. During my time in the hills climbing styles changed bold routes lost favor and more and more climbers wanted to add bolts to old routes. For a little while there was a bolt added to the trough. I witnessed one climber who on seeing the extra bolt thought he was all over the climb only to get freaked out above the first pin. I for one was glad to see that new bolt removed. Then Trojan C went in and was instantly popular. I did not like what I saw and not just for style or ethical reasons. Suddenly climbers doing the new safer line were always using what had been a rarely used pullout. On crowded weekend the extra cars and climbers to gawk at disrupted the already slow traffic. Considering how much untapped potential there was and probably still is. It was sad to see new routes right on the road. I did my share of climbing next to the road but never saw any sense in putting in new routes roadside.
By Bunny
May 29, 2007
There are some routes that 'earn' a name different from what the first ascensionist chose to call it. This is definitely one of those routes. no matter what the original ascensionists chose to call it, it got the name "SportFucking" and it stuck. Ask any local where "SportFucking" is, and they will tell you. Ask them where Trojan Condomnation is, and they wont know what route you are talking about.
By quickdraw
Aug 17, 2008
Here's a video of Brent leading Tricouni at the BHCC Pinfest in July 2008.
By quickdraw
Aug 17, 2008
Here is a link to photos of Brent climbing Tricouni and Eric just finishing the lead on Super Pin during July 2008 BHCC Pinfest:
By Tommy Layback
From: Sheridan, WY
Aug 27, 2012
Yep, "Sport Fucking" seems to be the local name. Just climbed it this weekend after seeing the bolts, didn't know what it was called, ran into a local at Sylvan Lake store, described the climb and that's what the local called it. He claimed it was a 5.10d, which is what the new-fangled Needles guidebook/comic book by Orenczak and Lynn rates it. Orenczak and Lynn also call this one 'Loss of Sensation'. I thought 5.10- was more appropriate, but crux seems height dependent and I'm tall.

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