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Spire Four
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South Tower Conn Route 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, Sport, 2 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Herb & Jan Conn
Page Views: 2,451
Submitted By: Eric Krantz on Jun 13, 2004

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Aaron rapping off South Tower as we raced to get J...


Enter 3-4 gully, scramble up until you get to the last corridor on the right before the classic Spire 4 chimney. Scramble to end of corridor, u-turn, scramble up some more along the ledge. We set a belay here. Directly across the corridor you will see a piton where the climbing starts. Then up and left to a small ledge and back (right) into the crack. Follow crack (small gear), past an old 1/4" rusty, and a nice new black hanger to a large horn. We set a belay at the horn. From there it is a short climb to the top.

On Spire 4 side is a large horn with slings for rap. (Bring at least 12' or more of webbing if you want to leave some).


Small & medium cams, nuts. There are 1-2 old bolts to clip and 1 good new bolt.

Photos of South Tower Conn Route Slideshow Add Photo
Looking back at the roomy belay ledge after starti...
Looking back at the roomy belay ledge after starti...
Butt shot but this shows the start if you end up i...
Butt shot but this shows the start if you end up i...

Comments on South Tower Conn Route Add Comment
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By Aaron Costello
From: Rapid City, SD
Aug 1, 2005
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Based on the old piton we found on the 4-5 gully side of the crack, I would guess the Conn's might have started here. I was a follower on this route, and to lead it would have taken a lot of balls. The leader said he wouldn't lead it again. We rapped off the E. Face of South Tower, using the one good bolt, and the spinney black one (after replacing the slings, leaving a biner and an aluminum rap ring). A two 60m rope rappel brought us to the ground between the route start and 'Take a Left.' If you weigh less than 150 lbs., rope stretch might not get you to the bottom so direct yourself right and set up another rappel at the ledge you see between the S. Tower and the shorter spire. A good linkup would be to rap off the north anchors, and climb the last pitch of spire 4. Ahh yeah.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Jun 15, 2007

Hey Aaron! How's it going man? I was the leader Aaron is referring to, and yup, it was hella scary. Maybe I am just a wuss, since the Conn's did it 50 years before with tennies, chocks and a 50 foot rope.

Found out later by re-reading the Piana guide that after that big horn you sling in the middle of the second pitch, you should go left and there are supposedly 2 bolts to climb past. I didn't see them over there, and went right instead. It was basically 40 or 50 feet of unprotected vertical crystal pinching on questionable rock to the anchors. Defintely R if not X if you go that way. Good times. I will post a couple photos.
By Eric Krantz
From: Black Hills
Nov 10, 2009

I agree with Bunny's rating 5.9+. This is not the route for a 5.8 leader. My favorite route in the hills. Led 5.10 R last week but not ready to lead this one.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Nov 17, 2009

This climb was given 5.7 in the Piana guide! The rating is historic but perhaps sandbagged. Just imagine doing it with a 50 foot rope and tennis shoes in 1952! And then downclimbing for the descent! Wow.

We didn't do the original route that starts in the 3-4 gulley, but it sounds like starting in the 4-5 gulley like we did gets you an additional pretty long pitch of climbing, which is cool. You end up on a nice big ledge that is the "step across to the piton" referred to above.
By rgold
From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 4, 2013

I did it several times starting in the early sixties. After the first time, all the others were in combination with the Conn route on the East Face of the East Gruesome; the two routes together make for a great link-up. 5.7 certainly seemed to be an accurate grade at the time; I wonder if some holds have broken off or if folks are missing the line of least resistance.
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