The Cathedral Spires hold some of the longer routes in the Black Hills. This is a great place for beginners to learn how to lead multi-pitch trad routes (classic 3-pitch routes that go at 5.4 and under). Also, there are many more challenging area classics. Most routes lead to awesome small summit perches.
Make sure to check out the standard routes on Spires 1-4, Station 13, God's Own Drunk, and Cat's Meow. Many routes have great belay ledges, and most all routes require a rappel (often needing double ropes). Few bolts exist, so bring a standard rack for almost every route. However, many fixed anchors are available.
The Cathedral Spires are numbered 1 through 9. There are roughly 75 summits in all in this small area, and many main gully systems for approaches. Nine main rock systems exist (each separated by a gully) with the highest spire given the number 1 through 9. The gullies become fairly unclear between Spires 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
Follow the signs from Hill City to Sylvan Lake. At the Sylvan Lake entrance, pay the entrance fee, then drive 2.2 miles on highway 87 past the Needle's Eye, through the tunnel, and park at a small lot that is located on a tight hairpin curve. The Cathedral Spires can be clearly seen towards the north, and Sandberg Peak (5.8) is the cool rickety spire next to the lot.
Hike north towards the Cathedral Spires on trail #4 from the parking lot. Watch out for a faint trail leading off to the NE as you get close to the spires. Approaches vary per spire, but either follow the main trail up the hill and approach from the back side (uphill side) of the spires, or take this trail junction for lower spires.
At this point, usually a map is needed to choose the correct gully to hike up. Find out the appropriate gully and look for landmarks. The widest gully is the Spire 4-5 gully. Another landmark to look for is Khayyam Spire. It is located at the bottom of the Spire 2-3 gully, and has a steep yellow face on its south side.
57 Total Routes
['4 Stars',12],['3 Stars',33],['2 Stars',9],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
Browse More Classics in Cathedral Spires
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cathedral Spires:
Tagua 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad, 1 pitch, 120' Tusk
Featured Route For Cathedral Spires
God's Own Drunk 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c SD
: Custer State Park
: ... : Khayyam Spire
The route starts on the North Side of the spire - you can't miss it. The route follows the awesome dihedral.A few weird moves gets you up to the start of the main dihedral. There are great stances for placing gear and then you move up and out - the dihedral is almost like reverse mini steps. It kind of goes like this - place gear, move up and out, loose sight of the gear because it is under the mini overhang, place another piece and repeat. When I climbed the route my partner kept saying to ...[more] Browse More Classics in SD
Latest Regional Forum Messages
I just happen to catch the right light on the way ... Here's one more of the Spires from the South.
Cathedral Spires from the north. BETA PHOTO: The Spires from the Southeast. Spire 3 is just vis...
BETA PHOTO: The Cathedral Spires as seen from the top of Barti... Picket Fence, etc. from the top of the Spire 2/3 g... Katherine Chumacero - rap off Rubiyat Spire, 5.8 C...
Lily in the Spire 2/3 gulley. June 08. Afternoon storm brewing over the Spires. View from... Spires 1 thru 4 as seen from the parking lot...
Messing around with Photoshop. Lillies of some sort on the way to the Cathedral S... BETA PHOTO: Cathedral Spires from the top of Nantucket Sleighr...
The spires with a storm brewing The Spires from a slightly different angle. May 0...
No matter how many times I see this scene I cannot...
Spires from Andrew Tower. July 2013.
Photo by Blitzo.
spire 4 and eyetooth
Similar to Previous photo with a little different ...
BETA PHOTO: Closeup of the Cathedral Spires.
Cathedral Spires from the north atop Little Devils...
A pic from the trail
When it gets too hot to climb at the needles...
This view never gets old.
Walking out with Jay and Aaron.
Harney peak, mystery spires, Picket Fence
The Spires from the south. Amazing place.
Spires 1 through 4 from the Picket Fence.
The Cathedral Spires by mid-day light. Photo by To...
Travis, AJ, and Brian on spire 1, with spires 2 an...
Me leading Empire State Building, 5.10
The grumpy old man at the bottom of the photo can ...
Atop Balcony Point, Spire 2
The 2-3 gulley from the top of Khayyam spire. Cli...
BETA PHOTO: Hopefully This will help you Find your Way
|By Anonymous Coward|
Sep 8, 2003
WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMBING IN THE BLACK HILLS THE SPIRES ARE ABOUT AS GOOD AS IT COULD EVER BE. BEUTIFUL TEMPS KNOWBODY AROUND AND SUPER LONG ONE PITCH ROUTES PLUS SOME MOST EXILLENT MULTI PITCH ROUTES SUCH AS CONN ROUTE ON RYBIUAT, THE YELLOW WALL, AND WINDOW TO THE WEST. IF YOU DONT GO THERE ENOUGH YOU WILL NEVER FIGURE THE PLACE OUT SO IF YOUR LOOKING FOR A CHANGE OF PACE FROM THE SHMORE OR CANYON WHATEVER HEAD ON UP TO THE NEEDLES & HOP ON SOMETHING YOU HAVE NEVER DONE.
|By Ryan Minton|
Nov 25, 2003
Is anyone aware of whether or not any ice forms in the Spires during the winter months? The Worm Hole Route on Spire 4 gets pretty wet in the summer at times, maybe there would be some potential for ice to form? Any info is appreciated...
|By john bradley|
Jun 6, 2007
I recommend summer. SD is usually windy and even on a calm day you'll feel it on these spires. Of course I'm little picky tho.
From: Rapid City, SD
Jun 10, 2007
I've been climbing every month this year!!! It's always a good time to climb the Black Hills.
|By randy baum|
From: Minneapolis, MN
Jul 15, 2008
If climbing Freaky Fright, Myopic Matron, or other small spires in the area, take webbing, rap rings, and/or extra pro to replace or back up anchors. Freaky Fight's anchors, for instance, are especially in disrepair. Two 30 year-old pitons equalized with aged 7-8 mm cord.
Jul 29, 2014
What's the best guide book for this area?