guidebook for the Needles climbing area in Custer State Park, SD.

The Needles climbing guide book

A few years ago, I came back to the Black Hills from climbing in the desert to begin the guiding rock climbing season here. Instead of our usual good weather, it snowed. So, I spent the next few weeks in the office and wrote up this rock climbing guide book to the area in Custer State Park known as the Needles Climbing Area. The climbing areas covered …

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South Dakota Adventure Tours

It is hard to pick the 5 best tours in the Black Hills of South Dakota. If you are planning a vacation near Mount Rushmore these are my 5 top things to do suggestions.

photo of climber in Custer State Park

Rock Climbing Rope Review

Advances in climbing rope technology continues to make rock climbing easier and safer. I’m sure Jan and Herb Conn would have loved to tie into a modern dynamic climbing rope rather then the 60 foot piece of manila climbing rope they had. Poor quality climbing ropes were a main reason that early adventures climbed with the motto “the leader must not fall.” Imagine sport climbing without leader …

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Hikers below the Harney fire lookout on Black Elk Peak.

Hiking Black Elk Peak to visit the Harney look out tower

Hiking Black Elk Peak (aka Harney Peak) Custer State Park likes to claim Black Elk Peak, but it really is in the Black Elk Wilderness and managed by the Black Hills National Forest. The most popular trail head starts near Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park and is often still being called Harney Peak trailhead since the 2016 name change is still fresh in many peoples minds. …

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Photo of Herb Conn. A legend to rock climbers and cavers

The Needles In Review – Appalachia – June 1953

Jan and Herb Conn put up over 200 first ascents here in the Black Hills, named countless geologic formations, and mapped the first 60+ miles of Jewel Cave.  They are pioneers and hero’s.   Check out the pics of an old article by Herb Conn from the June 1953 issue of Appalachia a premier outdoor publication back in the day.

Photo of Herb Conn drawing of rock climber in Custer State Park, SD.

Climbing history in Custer State Park

Needles Area Climbing History South Dakota The Needles of South Dakota are what makes Black Hills Climbing famous.  The routes near Sylan Lake in Custer State Park and other areas such as the Cathedral Spires, the Ten Pins, and the Needles Eye along Needles Highway, might be called the worlds best granite face climbing.  The views of the surrounding Black Hills are one of the best things …

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Durrance route at Devils Tower

The Durrance Route is a classic no matter if you are climbing Devils Tower for the first time or the 10th time. First put up by Jack Durrance and Harrison Butterworth in 1938, this route is one of the 50 classic climbs.  The climbing is unique in that there are a lot of wide cracks and full body movements in some wild positions.  Taking this route to …

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