SoDak Roundup

Memorial Day weekend 2013 brought my second ever climbing trip to South Dakota.

so dak group jg
Some of the MN gang from my Memorial Day 2013 climbing trip.
Photo: Julia Gordon

After an all night drive, we started in the Rushmore area at South Seas where we bumped into one of our (temporarily) dirtbaggin’ friends, Andy, who was sporting new tights and homemade belay glasses!

sodak andy 2     sodak andy 1

We got some warm ups in and I threw a top rope down on Mr. Critical, a classic 5.11 line that I was tempted to lead.  Leading in Rushmore is no joke, however, and I was more than happy to top rope this climb for my first time on it.

In the middle of the route, there is a fairly blank section that took me a few tries to navigate and the upper bulge slowed me down as well.  I can imagine trying this on lead the next time I am there, but feel like a send will require some rehearsing.

sdak mr critical mh
At the top of Mr. Critical. Ran into some Minnesota friends coming up Second Hand Rose Arete.
Photo: Matt Holland

We stayed at Horse Thief Campground, which offered nice amenities like free showers, a heated pool, potable water, and a central location.  There, we ran into my Twitter buddy, @eliz_rocks, yet another Minnesota climber in the area for the weekend.

The next day, we did one of my favorite climbs of the weekend, Weird Water, a long, meandering 5.7.  This route provided great exposure and an amazing view of Cathedral Spires and Harney Peak.

sdak weird water kt
Weird Water, as seen from the road below.
Photo: Kris Tyson

Across the road in Chopping Block, I got on Emergency Snow Route, a 5.9 that started off more like southern climbing with plates and shelves.  But, after a daunting mantle, it returned to sparse crystals and reliance on friction wherein I promptly switched from gleeful to panicked!  SoDak climbing is a heady game.

sdak snow emergency kt
Fearfully seeking the send on Emergency Snow Route.
Photo: Kris Tyson

Our last climbing day, we awoke to clouds, heavy mist, and reports of rain moving our way.  A few expensive roaming text messages later, we were off for Spearfish Canyon in search of supposed sunshine and blue skies.

sodak guidebooks
After a stop in Hill City, I added Spearfish to my upper Midwest guidebook collection.

Spearfish… wow!  We had left the land of scary 5.8s and instead, warmed up on a 5.10b an hour away.  Crazy good sport climbing in Spearfish, and, an abundance of it!  I ticked off a handful of four stars routes including The Sundance, Pakistani Route, and Monsoon.  There will definitely be return trips coming!

On the way out of Spearfish, we ate at Lewies in Lead, SD.  Which, I only write to remind myself to GO BACK TO LEWIES!  Yum.  Burger the size of my face; just what was needed after a long day of driving and climbing.

All in all, a great trip with great people.


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