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Primal Wall Area
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American Life S 
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American Life 

YDS: 5.9- French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 16 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 155'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Ron Yahne, Travis Rypkema, and Vern Phinney
Season: Depends on how SoDak weather wants to treat you.
Page Views: 546
Submitted By: Wilson On The Drums on Dec 16, 2012

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (6)
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upper shot of the route


Best done as 1 full pitch (155ft), but it can be broken up in 2 using the mid route anchors. The climbing is sustained, but perfect for those looking to get into the 5.9 grade. I wouldn't say that there is a distinct crux... a little route finding goes a long way and trusting your feet is essential. If anything, going from the bolt before the mid route anchors to the bolt after the anchors is the crux. Great climbing on great features, get on it!


Park at the Horsethief Lake pull-off. Cross the street towards the guard rail, find the well defined trail and follow it 10-15 minutes. At some point you will stop following the trail (the Primal Wall will be in sight) go down a steep hill, cross the creek, and work your way up to the wall. There are 2 bolted routes on the wall, this is the leftmost.


13 bolts, mid rap anchors, and 1 optional gear placement down low before 1st bolt= 15 draws total. (gear placement down low could be anywhere from BD C4 0.4 to 2)

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american life ****
american life ****
upper shot of the route
upper shot of the route

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By Mike Cohen
Jun 25, 2014

This route is listed as a 4-star two-pitch 5.9 in the Busse/Burre guidebook to Rushmore area climbing. I hiked out with my sister to climb it on 6/23/14 and was very surprised to find that the rock on the route was brittle and low-quality. The first bolt is 25 feet up, and I broke two non-crucial holds on the way up to it. I was just a bit perturbed but decided to press on, only to break off a major foothold about 5 feet above the first bolt and take a short whip. At this point we decided to pass on completing the climb. Maybe I just had bad luck and I don't wish to discourage others; but I hope this serves as a friendly warning to people interested in the route that the rock seems less sound than many other nearby Needles routes!
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