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The Thimble

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Thimble (Backside), The T,TR 

The Thimble Rock Climbing 

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Administrators: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Madsen, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: John Gill on Feb 19, 2003
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John Sherman repeats the Gill Route, The Thimble. ...


There are at least three traditional (ground up) routes on this rock. The first is the long downhill side, climbed by Dave Rearick and the Conns in the late 1950s. Dave carried a drill bit and a stud and hanger with him, but was not forced to use it for protection. The route is about 5.6. The second is around the corner to the right and ascends the left side of the steep face that overhangs the parking lot. Start on the left side of this face and move several feet up to a shallow groove, then to the top. It's about 5.8, if I recall correctly. The third is my unrehearsed 1961 free solo route up the slightly overhanging face to the right of route #2. It took me several visits before getting up the nerve to top out. At the time 5.10 was the top of the scale, and it was years later that this climb was recognized as the first 5.12. The second ascent (in the style of the FA) was about 1987. John Sherman made an ascent in 1991 (see "Stone Crusade"). It has seen some top ropes, but, thankfully, no bolts. This was the climb that some say marked a turning point in the popularity of bouldering.

Getting There 

Sits below the Needles Eye, on the edge of the parking lot. About 30 feet high (above the parking lot).

Climbing Season

For the Needles Eye area.

Weather station 5.0 miles from here

1 Total Climbing Routes

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

Classic Climbing Routes in The Thimble

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Thimble:
The Thimble (Backside)   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b R     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 80'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Thimble

Featured Route For The Thimble

The Thimble (Backside) 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b South Dakota : Custer State Park : ... : The Thimble
Climb the low angle side of the Thimble (no pro - unless one is creative)....[more]   Browse More Classics in South Dakota

Photos of The Thimble Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Yasuko Negoro bouldering at the bottom of the Thim...
Yasuko Negoro bouldering at the bottom of the Thim...
Rock Climbing Photo: Having fun on the Thimble
Having fun on the Thimble
Rock Climbing Photo: John Lang at the summit after climbing the 5.8 var...
John Lang at the summit after climbing the 5.8 var...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erik Gearhart soloing the "5.8 variation.&quo...
BETA PHOTO: Erik Gearhart soloing the "5.8 variation.&quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Thimble
The Thimble
Rock Climbing Photo: Messing around on a classic.
Messing around on a classic.
Rock Climbing Photo: Can't believe there are no pics of the thimble on ...
Can't believe there are no pics of the thimble on ...

Comments on The Thimble Add Comment
Show which comments
By John Gill
Mar 24, 2003
I have a new website that has some comments about the Thimble:
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 1, 2004
The route to the right of John Gill's original line up the Thimble has the same start and then goes up and right , but not quite to the arete. This crimpy climb is about 5.12b.

The overhaning arete to the right of that, a very obvious feature, could probably go free at 5.13-something.
By Anonymous Coward
Aug 8, 2004
The top roped variation that starts on the "Gill" route then moves right is a Kevin Bein-Barbara Devine variation first climbed in 1980.

The arete on the right side of the parking lot face of the Thimble was climbed first by Bob Murray on a top rope and is lower 5.13.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jul 31, 2006
It seemed to me that the easiest way to do the Thimble with a few hard moves but not total sustained "owch, my fingers hurt" is to start on what is the obvious Gill problem, and from the "good" square hold 4 meters up, to continue up and left to merger with the 5.9 route on that arete. Done as such the hardest move felt 5.11+/5.12- (v4?) but it was over before it would be high-ball.
What we could not make out is exactly what line the Gill Route went, since from said good hold, up the left arete was so obvious. Anyway, I'm no tough guy, so I took that line.
Please explain where the original Gill problem is? What is it's relationship to the rounded "scoop" to the left?
By Joshua Dreher
From: Bremerton, WA
Aug 21, 2007
Has the overhanging arete on the right been bouldered/soloed since its top rope first ascent?
By bradmcleod
Dec 1, 2013
I am a huge John Gill fan. In this interview Mr. Gill speaks about "The Thimble" and other aspects of his climbing career.

Work and family safe link:

Many thanks
Brad McLeod
By Robert Hall
From: North Conway, NH
Jun 9, 2015
In 1973 the "backside" route was, I believe, rated 5.3 in the guidebook of that era. Talk about "old school"! [More detail in a COMMENT] on the "Backside" climb itself.]

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