Celebrating 30 years of rock guiding in 2019


Sylvan Rocks crew of guides
Sylvan Rocks guides.

We believe EVERYONE can enjoy rock climbing with their friends and family at their own level.  We strive to share the vertical world, and give you a whole new vision from the summits of the Black Hills.

It all started in 1974 when founder Susan Scheirbeck was taken rock climbing, but not taught anything about what was going on.  Without any explanation of knots, gear, proper communication, anchor systems, safe rappel skills, or even how to move on the stone, she was taken up routes far too difficult for her to enjoy.

After an experience like that, many people would never have touched the rock again, but 15 years later that initial experience prompted Susan to found Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service.  She created a climbing school that focused on fun while learning, and taught solid climbing techniques to build the skills needed for a lifetime of adventure.

Her operation grew from a small guide shack below the Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer State Park to a successful downtown Hill City, South Dakota business.  In 1991 SR gained accreditation from the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), the foremost authority on climbing and mountaineering guide training in the United States.

“We’ve come a long way since 1989….I had a chance to prove our school’s teaching philosophy of thoroughness and have really enjoyed all the wonderful people who have been through our programs and are now solid climbers.” — Susan S

Climber on West Buttress of Outer Outlet
Climber on West Buttress of Outer Outlet.

Being outside climbing was Susan’s love, but the growth of Granite Sports Outdoor Store demanded more and more of her time. In 2002 running two businesses finally became too much for one person to manage.

Michael and Nicole Keegan had long dreamed of owning and operating a climbing school.  They ran the school for three great seasons with the help of Matt Mieczkowski, as head climbing guide.

January 2006, the time was right for us (Cheryl and Daryl) to purchase the rock climbing school and pour into it, our passion for Black Hills climbing.  We met here in the Needles of South Dakota on a college rock climbing trip in 1993 and have been together ever since.  Rock climbing has made our lives what they are today.  Climbing and traveling has been a focus, and we’ve had many great experiences wandering from Greenland to Patagonia.  It’s been a great life together, climbing, paddling whitewater, mountain biking, hiking, visiting great places/cultures, and meeting all the other wanderers seeking adventure and living out their dreams.

We look forward to sharing a summit with you as part of your Black Hills vacation adventure.

“Life is meant to be spent, not saved.” — D.H. Lawrence


  • Apologies for the delay in responding.  The boys and I have just landed back in Singapore and getting organised with life once again!
    I very heartfelt thank you to you, Jeff and Taylor for the AMAZING experience we had climbing with Sylvan Rocks. . .I always felt safe and that Jeff and Taylor were in control, comfortable, calm and knew what they were doing. . .I still can’t believe we were able to summit Devil’s Tower and am extremely grateful for the support and talent provided by Sylvan Rocks in this endeavor – this has left an ever lasting memory on myself and my family in so many ways.



    Aug 1, 2016
  • On behalf of all of my boys we want to thank you for an absolutely amazing day. Jeff was just an awesome guide – super knowledgeable yet safety first. 
    As my 11 year old said “I have never been so scared yet feel like I did something so amazing.” Literally life changing experience for them.
    Please thank Jeff again…

    David Anderson

    July 2016
  • My kids had a wonderful time! Thank you for what you do. you made our trip even more memorable!

    girl rappelling in Custer State Park


    June 2014
  • Cheyenne was great. Very patient and always cheerful. Kept us safe at all times.

     Here are a couple of photos that you may want to use. Cheyenne has some on his camera too.

     Thanks for a great vacation adventure.

    David Sypes

    David Sypes

    July 2015