Climbers in Custer State Park

Sylvan Rocks Blog

New Mountain Pro Edition

Daryl Stisser - Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The UK's E-zine Mountain Pro has a new edition out.  There are a few nice articles to check out.  Snow falling here for the past 3 day.  Should have done a time laps when it was really coming down this morning....or stayed in Moab instead of coming home!!!

Click on the pic and check out the magazine...grab a cuppa good coffee and enjoy.  Climbing season will be here soon enough.

Devils Tower Climbing Video - Jenn Flemming and Guide Anthony Schwartz

Daryl Stisser - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Many of you have climbed and been guided by Anthony Schwartz.  He loves climbing as much as anyone I know.  He lives it...breathes it...and he is mighty good at it.

This video, put together by the National Park Service about climbing at Devils Tower National Monument, does a great job of not only describing what it is like to climb on the rock at Devils Tower, but captures a little bit of why rock climbing is such a great activity.  The images feed into the feeling of empowerment / respect for what surrounds a climber up on the stone, and the sheer joy that people experience when they slide fingers and toes into perfect holds and micro ledges.  Up on the wall with just a rope, gear and a partner or guide, life is simplified.   Life is good.

Pull, push, rest.....flow....enjoy the moment, embrace the challenge.  

These are things that make climbing so worthy and life worth living.  We all have to have something to motivate us beyond the normal day to day grind.  For many people, the adventure of rock climbing is that thing that takes life to the next level.

Tony was part of the team of pro climbers and videographers that put this great piece together.  He shared his knowledge of Devils Tower, his love for climbing and rope skills to help put that crew in position to get those inspiring shots.  

I hope you enjoy the video and descriptions Jenn Flemming shares about climbing in special places like "Devils Tower National Monument in beautiful northeast Wyoming"....  Anyone take a guess who I stole that line from?

Should you choose to hire Sylvan Rocks to guide you up the top of Devils Tower...I promise we will choose routes with appropriate challenges.  While there is no super easy way to the top of the Tower, there are many ways with much larger handholds and footholds then the routes that were shown in this video.  Climb on!

Jenn Flemming in Devils Tower:  National Parks Epic Challenge video.  Thanks to Camp 4 Collective for doing such a great job putting this video together for the National Park Foundation.

AMGA Survey Results

Daryl Stisser - Friday, September 27, 2013

Whats it like to be a rock climbing guide?  Best job in the world right?  Well most guides do enjoy a sweet office space, but it does help to enjoy living out of your backpack and being extremely tolerant of less then idea weather if you choose to pursue this career path.

The AMGA collected some data about guides and this is what they to shared.  Click to read more.  

Mount Rushmore Access Fund Trail Day July 27

Daryl Stisser - Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Access Fund Conservation Team is scheduled to arrive in the Black Hills in a few weeks to help the Black Hills Climbers Coalition with a trail project at The Mount Rushmore Climbing Area.   On Saturday July 27, plan to come and volunteer on the project.  Along with working on improving the climbers trail up towards Garfield Goes to Washington on the Emancipation Rock Formation...there will be other projects that we could use some help with.

 Be sure to keep watching the Sylvan Rocks and BHCC Facebook pages and calendars for more updated info as the event gets closer.

 Check out the video of the Access Fund Conservation Team working in Utah with the Salt Lake Climbers Alliance.  You might recognize a Black Hills local in the video moving a few stones.  


Happy Salathé Day. 25th anniversary of the FFA

Daryl Stisser - Sunday, June 16, 2013

I was emailing with Paul Piana yesterday, and he wished me a Happy Salathé Day!  25 years ago, he and Todd Skinner made history.  Here is how he described it in an interview with NPR  

"Mr. PIANA: Well, it made a big splash in the climbing world, actually. It was something that the climbing world hadn't considered as possible. And in some ways, parts of our minds didn't consider it possible either, but we believed it just enough to continue trying. And we tried and we tried and we tried. And most of those tries we failed. We only succeeded on one of the tries. And I can remember being a rope length from the summit with Todd, when we knew we really had it done, we'd succeeded, and how much fun that was. I can't imagine giving so much physical and mental effort to succeed on something as ridiculous as climbing a big rock wall with anybody but Todd."

Free climbing thousands of vertical feet like that.....I cannot imagine the giddy feeling these to men must have felt as they finished something so bold. 

The climbers of today continue to break records, climb new lines, and create rad new challenges for themselves, but without a doubt, Paul and Todd were an unforgeable team that opened the minds of many to what might be possible.   Thanks to both of them for dreaming big and going on to live out those dream!

If you are interested in seeing some great photos of that trip.  There is a collection of Bill Hatchers work on Todds website.  Click Here for the Link

Take Care of Your Rock Climbing Gear

Daryl Stisser - Saturday, June 15, 2013

During staff training, we talk about all kinds of things that concern how to best take care of ourselves and our guest while rock climbing.  How we take care of our rock climbing gear is on that list of topics.  While discussing this, Cheyenne brought up this Blog post from Black Diamond.


 Acid was the reason found for this harness failure.  Bottom line.  Watch what you do with your harness.  Word to the wise.  Do not lay your climbing gear down in a parking lot.  There can be bad things on the ground that you can accidentally pick up.  Your climbing gear is your life.  Take care of it.  Don't be afraid to replace it early and often.

Everest First Ascent 50th Anniversary

Daryl Stisser - Wednesday, May 01, 2013

May 1st 1963, Jim Whittaker, now 84, was the first American to reach the top of the world and summit Mount Everest.

The BBC put together a great short video remembering this moment in time. 

I love the line that "if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up to much space."

Adventures continue to happen, but this was a magnificent climb.  All the trekking and preparation is far beyond my ability.  Good job Jim and Sherpa Gambu!

Click on the photo to visit the BBC page with the video.

 Jim Whittiker on everest

Palisades Adopt a Crag

Daryl Stisser - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The annual Palisades Adopt a Crag event is coming up, so plan to be there, do your part, and have some fun!  

Be there Sat April 20th from 9am to 2pm.  Plenty of schwag and good stuff.  Contact Eric at for more info if you have questions.

adopt a crag poster

Jan Conn press release

Daryl Stisser - Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sorry I did not get this on the calendar sooner, but if you are not doing anything tomorrow Sunday April 14th, come down to the Outdoor Campus in Rapid City from 1 to 4pm, and hear Jan Conn speak about rock climbing and caving.  Should be a good show.



Rock Climbing Access and Bolting

Daryl Stisser - Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I saw this video on the Outdoor Research clothing site.  Thought it did a great job of explaining how things happen with the people who manage the land that we depend upon for access to rock climb.

Rock Climb with us.

  • All rock climbing gear supplied
  • No experience needed
  • Families and beginners welcome.
  • Black Hills - Devils Tower - Palisades Park

View our courses - Click Here

Reservations  -  (605) 484-7585


Since 1989 when Sylvan Rocks began in Custer State Park, our goal has been to teach beginning climbers right, and take experienced guests to the best summits the area has to offer.  Vacation time is short, so do something extraordinary in the Black Hills.

Why climb with Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service?

  1. We are the only American Mountain Guides Association accredited climbing guide service operating in the Black Hills and at Devils Tower National Monument.
  2. Great reviews on Trip Advisor, and more reviews sent in from our guests.
  3. We are a full service guide school that can host groups from 1 to 80+ people.  Your family and friends will never forget climbing in the Black Hills of SD.
  4. We were chosen to work on the film National Treasure 2, and on location in the Black Hills with Bear Grylls.

  5. Check out the climbing video below showcases our Discover Climbing Adventure.  If you are looking for more in your climbing course, check out the 6 hour Rock Day (aka Basic Rock).  Both courses are a great way to get your first ascent.


Slide Show
click any 'pic'
Climbing up the Spires in Custer State Park - Looking down at the Black HillsCuster State Park - Black Hills - South Dakota - ten-pins
Rock Climbing in Custer State Park - Black Hills - South DakotaYoung rock climber at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park
Rock climbing in the Black HillsDad and sons on top of one of the many great Black Hills Summits.
Cathedral Spires - Custer State Park - Black Hills - South DakotaClimber in the Black Hills, Custer State Park
Top of Cathedral Spires -Custer State Park, SDClimber in Spires-Black Hills-SD - Route is