Mt Rushmore is known to most for being the location of the presidential monument but there is a LOT of great rock adjacent to it which is open to climbing. Free primitive camping didn’t hurt anything either so it made sense as a first stop. The Black Hills of South Dakota are home to not only a lot of wonderfully friendly people, whose company we enjoyed for a second year in a row, but also to some wildly unique climbing.

Last year we only climbed for one afternoon here because we spent more time in Custer, so it was a relatively new experience exploring this area. Fresh off of 4 days of long haul slogging across the midwest, there was little chance of being disappointed. In fact that climbing is superb, with the only drawback being the disorienting spires and rock formations which make finding specific routes a fools errand. Guidebooks are useless (almost) but fortunately their obsolescence provides a stark contrast to the willing and outgoing local climbers who are rightly proud of their crag. We met almost 10 people in 2 and a half days who were not only friendly but also genuinely helpful.

Guided tours were the norm and competition and the egotism that seems so prevalent at many east coast venues was replaced with genuine excitement to see new people coming out regardless how hard you can pull down. I have spent months climbing in NY and not made as many friends as climbing for two days in the Black Hills. Just saying.

livingvertical steve richert diabetes and climbing