Man standing on top of rocks after climbing.

Sylvan Rocks Blog

Lead Climbing Sport Routes Course June 16

Daryl Stisser - Monday, May 21, 2018

Lead Climbing on Sport Route Fundamentals

Get your "A" game on and learn about lead climbing on bolted sport climbing routes.  

Have you been top rope climbing for awhile and looking to try your hand at lead climbing outdoors on real rock?  Lead climbing is a big step.  There is a lot to think about when venturing out on the "sharp end" of the rope.  Learn how to respect, manage, and mitigate some of risk involved.

When:  June 16 -  9am to 2:45pm

Where:  Meet at the West entrance to Mount Rushmore National Monument (further instructions provided upon sign up).

Who:  You should have spent time climbing top rope indoors and/or outside, and have a general knowledge of climbing, tying in, and belaying.  This in NOT intended for people who have not climbed before.  Taught by AMGA Rock Guide Cheyenne Chaffee.  Hosted by Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guided Service.


Ratio:  1:6  Must have at least 3 people signed up by June 13 or course will be canceled.  If there is more then 6 we will start a waiting list and possibly add another instructor.

Call 605-484-7585 to make your reservation or Book Now Online to hold your spot. (this course is near the end of the course list)

Participants must be 18 years old for this course.

What skills will we address in this course?

1)  Lead Belaying

Falling is part of the game, and a good belay is a critical part of your safety system.  By understanding how to belay a leader, you will better be able to set your belayer up for success in catching you when you fall.

2) Technical skills

Showing up with the right gear, reading a guidebook topo, finding a route and assessing  the routes risk before you leave the ground can save you a world of hurt.  Train yourself to see potential risk and rest of a climbing route before you leave the ground.  Knowing that you have addressed many of the little things that can go wrong you can clear you mind to focus and climb harder up your chosen route.

3)  Tie ins, clipping bolts and understanding force.

Rock climbing is pretty simple, but we cannot afford to do anything incorrectly without increasing our risk.  Once you fall and gravity takes control, you need every part of the system to work correctly in order to keep yourself from hitting the ground.  

4)  Rope management and bolted anchors

Keeping several hundred feet of rope free of tangles and properly anchored so it can protect you and your friends when needed takes some thinking ahead.

5)  Cleaning an anchor and rappelling

Climbers are usually very attentive and dialed in when leading.  Cleaning anchors and rappelling are 2 of the most accident prone activities during a day at the crag. 

Fundamentals of Top Rope Climbing

Daryl Stisser - Friday, May 18, 2018

Fundamentals of Top Rope Climbing


Come learn the ropes right with the Sylvan Rocks Climbing Guides.

Have you have been to the Rock Climbing Gym or out climbing with a friend a few times and always wanted to get into the sport of rock climbing?  This is the course for you.

The Black Hills offer several unique world class climbing venues within a 2 hour drive.  In this course we will get to work sorting out how to manage the risk involved in rock climbing.   We will spend most the course digging into skills.  Unlike our Discover Climbing course which focuses on a first day of climbing...this course will focus on skills and not involve much actual climbing.  Designed to cover a lot of material in a shot amount of time, so read up, bring your thinking caps, and strap yourself in.

When:  June 9  9am to 2:45pm

Where:  Meet at the West entrance to Mount Rushmore National Monument (further instructions provided upon sign up).

Cost:  $95   RESERVATIONS ONLY - all rock climbing gear included, but you are welcome to bring your own.

Ratio:  1:6  Must have at least 3 people signed up by June 6 or course will be canceled.  If there is more then 6 we will start a waiting list and possibly add another instructor.

Call 605-484-7585 to make your reservation or Book Now Online to hold your spot. (this course is near the end of the course list)

Participants must be 18 years old for this course.

What skills will we address in this course?

1)  Gear Basics

So many shiny objects at the gear store.  We will discuss what is needed and what might be better left for later.

2)  Knots and Connectors

 You need to connect your gear to anchors and yourself to the rope in order for the system to work.

3)  Belaying

When you belay, your climbing is depending on you to catch them and save them from injury or death.  Learn correct techniques and ways many people mess up this fundamental skill.

4)  Movement on the Rocks

 Face climbing, slab climbing, crack climbing, overhanging limestone climbing and everything else all depend on good footwork and body placement for ultimate success.

5)  Anchors 

 An entire course could be done on any of these topics.  In this course we will focus on using 2 bolt anchors that we commonly see around the Black Hills.  We will introduce other systems and gear anchors, but likely will not have time to go in depth.

6)  Rappelling

 What goes up must come down, and rappelling is responsible for a huge number of climbing accidents.

We will slow down or speed up depending on the skill set that the group of participants arrives with.

Exos Cast for boxers break review

Daryl Stisser - Friday, January 05, 2018

While out dirt biking, I broke my 4th metatarsal 7 weeks ago.  So far so good I think.   A week in a half cast…then 5 weeks in an Exos Cast.  Finally I was able to take my stinky hand outa that thing and start rehab.

 Of course, it was a Sunday when I did it so after riding 7+ miles back to the truck and loading the bike, I went home, iced things up, and waited to see what happened hoping it was just bruised or something.  When the Monday morning rush passed I went into the Custer clinic for a x-ray.  Upon seeing it, the nurse rightfully guessed something was broken.  After living with the pain for 24 hours, I’d guessed it was my 4th metatarsal and as correct.  The x-ray verified what the nurse suspected.  The doc at the clinic knew I was an active person and suggested the Exos Cast.  It’s a modern day version of the old gauze and plaster cast of my youth that I’d expected to get.  I think they use fiberglass now and I was hoping for something in neon green, but after being through it all think the Exos was OK.

It turned out that after they tried to fit me in the wrong version of the Exos they realized they did not have the right one one at the clinic for the boxers break.  As they were about to put me in a normal cast for a 4th metatarsal I inquired if they could find one of them new fangled Exos Cast in the area and I’d go get it.  After discussion and a few phone calls and a fair amount of waiting they found what I needed  at Black Hills Orthopedics.  So off I went.  

Upon arrival there, they got me in pretty quick and had a look for themselves.  The PA did a good movement check and I think they took some more X-rays.  She explained the break better…the bone was in fact in 2 pieces, but so far not displaced so that was great news…no surgery if we could keep it there.  I promised to be a good boy and not go biking, climbing or run the chainsaw.  The hand was pretty swelled so she suggested I go home with a normal half cast and wrap for a week till the swelling went down then return for the Exos.  In hind site, this was a fine suggestion.

The Exos Cast is a good piece of kit, but after living with a half cast for a week and the Exos for  the rest of the healing, I would not say that the Exos is all around better, just different.   

Pros of the Exos

It’s smaller - Its prolly 3/4 of an inch in diameter smaller them a normal cast.  Still a total pain in the butt to get shirts and jackets on, but there are lots more of them that I can wear compared to the cast.

It’s lighter - Right away I noticed that I moved around and functioned just a bit more normally.  When I hiked, my stride was more normal.  I could do more exercises more normally then I could of with a regular cast.  I really wanted to have the bones I stayed active hiking and some jump rope towards the end, but didn't really go running in the Exos.  #1 because I didn't want the jostling around to set back my healing and #2 because it was winter with ice and snow and I didn't want to fall while wearing the cast.  Yes, makes me sound like some old guy I know, but setbacks were not something I wanted to have happen.

Vents better - even with the limb sock (which is critical I believe).  There is just way less material and with the some small vent holes it just works better.  Such that you don’t seem to sweat as much in the thing when sleeping or exercising.

Some adjustment -  and ability to reform - Since there is little to no padding, fit is everything.  With the Exos instead of the thick gauze padding there is just a MM or so of dense foam between my rather tender skin and the ridged thermoplastic…so anywhere that it was incorrectly formed, I got uncomfortable rub spots on my skin.  While I’m sure this happens with a regular cast, with the Exos there is less padding, therefore less room for error by whoever is putting it on.  I’ve done a bit of reading online and understand that creating a cast for this, the Boxers Break or Brawlers Break is a bit of a difficult one.  If your doc is not a sculptor or psyched about the art of forming the Exos or a cast you will suffer no matter what they try to create for you.  My favorite Doc was actually a dentist by trade and an artist by choice.  The crowns and fillings he created were great…they fit better then average, meshed together and always worked better then most.  He was the type of person that would do great at sculpting the Exos or a traditional cast.  The Exos has a mean tendency to create uncomfortable folds where the fingers bend if the person fitting and forming aren’t careful.  After watching the company fitting and forming videos, I know my caretakers have room to improve how they are doing things.  I lasted only a day before I attacked the huge flap they left me with, and 4 days before I had to do something about the constriction of my pinky.   I carefully and patiently warmed things up again and tried to open up the fold.  It took me a few tries to keep the 70+ degree bend they seem to strive for.  Apparently I did OK without messing anything up.  When the PA saw it again she would have liked a little more bend, but didn’t really think reforming was worth it.  I’d been able to make it pretty comfortable, and my healing time for such a break seemed normal so I cannot complain.  

After the 4 week mark, my PA said I could start taking it off to bath and work to regain some finger movement.  Those little piggies were stiff and stinky.



The Half Cast seemed to smell worse after one week then the Exos did after 3 weeks.


The Cons

Again…Your healthcare provider needs to be psyched about it for you to get the max benefit.  If your provider is bias towards a traditional cast for whatever reason, that may be your best bet.  Most people are resistant to change and healthcare is no different.   Just like the guys who poured concrete for me when we were building....they wanted to do things the way they'd always done them rather then try something different.

The Exos advertising touts its waterproofness.  Yes, the thermoplastic is waterproof but that doesn’t seem to actually allow you to swim or shower with it as they let on.  As I understand it…you need to keep pressure from messing with the break in your bone for max healing.  IF you are taking the Exos off to let it dry after showers or swimming you are prolly increasing your healing time.  Keeping your had in a wet Exos while things dried out seems like it would have resulted in more messed up skin and pain via some sort of rotten rash.  So, not really a con, but more of false advertising and a real let down after looking at things online in the waiting room.

In Conclusion

If you hope to stay active, and don’t think you’ll mind the lack of padding…the Exos if prolly worth it.  I’d guess for overall comfort, the traditional cast might be better for some people.  I was SUPER ready to get outa the thing, but all and all happy it was suggested to me as an alternative to a normal cast.  After 6 weeks in anything…expect inflammation and to be really weak and really stiff. That is just the reality of a human body.  My grip strength after being in the cast was over 100 pounds different between my healthy hand and my recovered hand.

After being out of the Exos only 3 days, and a few PT sessions my fingers are coming around but I’m still a long ways from being able to make a fist or even think about many “normal” movements such as a push up.  REALLY REALLY happy to be out of it though, and on the way to full recovery.  Hurt bodies are to be expected if you live an active and adventurous life so I cannot complain.  Its part of the trade off if you expect to really live your life vs just exist.  And heck…I heard tail of more then one person breaking bones slipping on ice in the driveway, so at least this little mishap in my motorbike was way more exciting then that.


If all continues to go well, we should be back on the motorbike soon and ready to guide this season starting in mid April.  Hopefully be doing some climbing in the southwest between now and then in preparation.  For now though, I'm just hoping to be able to bend my fingers and wrist enough to make a fist and do a pushup soon.


Here is a link for the Exos cast for boxers fracture that I had.




Its a great year to be a 4th grader

Daryl Stisser - Monday, May 02, 2016

You may have heard about the National Park Service Every Kid in a Park program granting free entrance passes to all 4th graders, and now the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks is getting on board with the new news of their Go Fourth program for South Dakota 4th graders.

 Both of these programs are geared towards building appreciation of the natural world and getting kids and families outdoors.  We perhaps all spend a little to much time on the sofa enjoying a screen.  And that is awesome, but hiking, fishing, rock climbing, and even getting caught outside in a thunder shower are all things worth doing and these 2 passes are perfect venues for enjoying some amazing places in South Dakota and across the USA.




New World Headquarters

Daryl Stisser - Thursday, December 25, 2014

Most of you know that since 2006 Sylvan Rocks has operated out of the SR trailer at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park.  We will still be doing that, but the home office where all the behind the scenes organizational magic happens is going to be moving to a new location this spring.  For many years Cheryl and I have rented a beautiful home just north of Custer.  It was designed and built by the late Loretta Muehl, wife of Paul Muehl, who as many of you know...authored a 'few' routes in the Needles...esp. Middle Earth.  Since Lorettas untimely death, Cheryl and I have rented the place.  Its been an awesome home.  Cheryl rides her bike to work or walks every day and I have a great office to work from.  

In true Jan form, in June of 2013, Jan Conn stopped by to ask our full names and mailing address.  She was on her way to visit her lawyer and intended to gift 10 acres of land that her and Herb had bought back in the early 1950's to Cheryl and I.  It was as close as they could get to living next to the Cathedral Spires.  Jan said something like "you shouldn't have to wait for some old lady to die to be living out there."  And as simple as that, the adventure began.  To say that Cheryl and I were thankful, excited and overwhelmed would  be an understatement.  After a bit of a gut wrenching nightmare battle with the Forest Service for access to the parcel that went on way to long, we finally started building in earnest about mid Oct.  If you have ever built a home, you understand that its been a lot to learn in a short amount of time and the amount of work is fairly overwhelming.  All good "problems" though.  Jan comes over several times a week (esp. when the weather is good) for lunch and visits to check on the progress.  We have lots of good friends who have been out to help, and excellent guidance from our friend and project captain...Shep Vail.

We have discovered a few things that we'd do differently next time, but we hope that this place will be home to Cheryl and I as well as WORLD HEADQUARTERS to Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service for many many years to come.  The Black Hills of South Dakota have been good to us, so I guess we will be staying as we are rooted here more then ever now.

The Pine Bark Beetles had killed most of the trees in the building site over the past few years, but we still had to tip over a few.  Amazing how fast a excavator works.

Jan was pretty impressed with the big machine and how well Matt operated it.  Because we had so much rock at the building site, we decided to build our home post frame style.....

The first poles rise out of the ground.

Happy to have had a nice warm October. 

The poo pipe goes in!

Unfortunately... Snow and cold moved rather then wait on concrete...we set trusses and closed the place in!  Being flexible and creative seems to be the key to progress this time of year.

FINALLY, the last truss....and a few weeks later....some concrete.

So many choices.

Feels good to have some indoor work and ready for the snow on Christmas Eve.  Happy happy Merry Merry  everyone!

Oldest rock climber to Summit Devils Tower

Daryl Stisser - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

We have had many interesting and awesome guest and I try not to spray about them, but it has been a few years now, and I've talked about it, but never blogged about it until now.  But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Sylvan Rocks guide Tony Schwatz had the pleasure of guiding the oldest free climber ever to the top of Devils Tower.   If I'm wrong and someone older has made the trip, please let me know.

In 2010, Amanda called me up and booked a trip for Siegfried since his english was not as good as hers.  I think she may have mentioned something about him being older, but it was a non-issue.  I didn't think much about it, as I knew Matt would handle whatever came his way.  So Matt Mieczkowski heads over to the Tower, and met up with this Austrian dude.  That was the year the Durrance Route was closed so they fired up El Cracko without problem.  Come to find out, Siegfried was 81years old and not afraid to perhaps pull on a piece of gear though the crux.   I thought that that was pretty darn cool.  I've seen guys young enough to be Siegfrieds great grand children get shut down by Devils Tower.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Rock climbing up Devils Tower is just pure work...there is no easy way climb up that darn Tower.  I wish there was, but if you wanna get to the summit and earn that view, you gotta really want to get there.

So, 2012 rolls around, Amanda calls back and booked several days of climbing in the Needles and another trip up the Tower.  Amanda...Siegfrieds younger wife at the tender age of 67 had started going to the climbing gym with him every week and she got in on the action when she joined Tony and her hubby for the 3 days spent climbing in the Needles, but on Sept 9, 2012 Siegfried chugged his way up the Durrance route.  In Tony's words..."he was a machine."  I'd like to think Tony's great guiding had something to do with it all, but truth be told, Tony just hung the rope for a very determined bundle of energy to blast his way up the route climbing in a controlled, steady, good climbing form.   How cool is that?  All the next 40 years of medicine can bring on...if Cheryl and I can goto the climbing gym once a week when I hit 80 and summit the Tower at 83... to say the least, I will be pretty psyched.

In talking to Siegfried, he said he climbed from age 30 to 50, then quit for 20 years, but at age 70...he decided that it was time to get back into rock climbing.  So, I guess that he is set up until 90 or so.  We will hope for another visit from Amanda and Siegfried.  Two of the sweetest, most humble guest I have met.

Just let it be known that while the great Frank Sanders is getting a little long in the tooth...he has another generation of climbing the Tower before he catches up to Siegfrieds age record.  I think the gauntlet has been thrown...lets salute 2 of my favorite athletes.  Amanda and Siegfried

When I hit 83...I wanna watch this shadow and capture this photo like Siegfried did.  A guy can dream.  Right?

Have you been inspired today?

Daryl Stisser - Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Its been many years now since we have adventured in Patagonia, yet in many ways, my heart is still there.  There in a way that the Black Hills were after my first visit here.  I knew I'd be back...I knew that I'd make these granite spires part of my life.  It is amazing how a place, a landscape can capture a persons heart and inspire them to act on dreams...obsessions...goals ...desires.  I have dreamt about a little cabin for Cheryl and I at the end of the world down there.  A simple life with the gauchos on the pompas.  Not sure I'll ever have the guts to leave all this behind, but I hold it up as an ideal and a fall back when things get hectic around here.  I know that being down in Argentina would come with its own set of issues, but in the dream can bring a smile on a rough day and that can be worth a lot.

I don't really know Rolando, but from the video shown here by Black Diamond, he seems like someone I'd enjoy sharing a cup of Mate with.  Sometimes you see a little glimps of something good and it makes you need to grow a little more.  Today, for was talking with a good friend on the phone and watching this video.  Salute....and thanks to those who make things happen for themselves and others by living a life that inspires us all. 

Click here or on the pic to watch the video and read about Rolo.

Have you been inspired today?

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.  

Reviews submitted by our guest.

Links to other reviews on TripAdvisor          Watch a video made about us on by SD Tourism

Always awesome when you can impress teenagers.


Daryl, we had the time of our lives. I wrote reviews for yelp and TripAdvisor letting people know how great Sylvan Rocks is, can't wait to climb with you again. Chris and Taylor were fantastic guides, please let them know how much we appreciated their expertise and good spirit!



July 16, 2017


Just wanted to drop a note and let you know that Nick was a great guide for our group of grandparents and two pre teen grandsons.  We had a great time.  Thanks so much!
Kim K


All of us loved it!!!   Thank you so extra much!   And yes, Vivian is very proud and Sebastian wants to come back tomorrow!
Sure, you can post any photos, just please don't use names.  

You guys are the best!!

Thanks again,   Robin

Sent from my iPhone

Hi Daryl,                                                           Aug, 1 2016

Apologies for the delay in responding. . the boys and I have just landed back in Singapore and getting organised with life once again!

I very heartfelt thank you to you, Jeff and Taylor for the AMAZING experience we had climbing with Sylvan Rocks. . .I always felt safe and that Jeff and Taylor were in control, comfortable, calm and knew what they were doing. . .I still can't believe we were able to summit Devil's Tower and am extremely grateful for the support and talent provided by Sylvan Rocks in this endeavor - this has left an ever lasting memory on myself and my family in so many ways.

Jeff/Taylor - I'm not totally organized yet, but once we are, I will send the photos from our climbs that I have. . .if you have any, please feel free to send those too!  :-)

Daryl - I will also gladly provide a review/recommendation for you guys. . again, when a bit more organized!

I hope all is well - you're avoiding or participating in Sturgis, whichever way your heart takes you!
Thank you again!


Daryl:                                                   7-9-16

On behalf of all of my boys we want to thank you for an absolutely amazing day. Jeff was just an awesome guide - super knowledgeable yet safety first. 
As my 11 year old said "I have never been so scared yet feel like I did something so amazing." Literally life changing experience for them.
Please thank Jeff again and I will post a review on our return.

God Bless.
David Anderson
Monte M with his scout troop.

It was an epic trip of a life time

We will write reviews and send photos over the next couple of days

Tony and Cheyenne are remarkable people!



Repeat Guest Steve and his daughter Alyssa:


Many thanks to you and Chris.  I thought last year’s trip would never be beat – most fun I have ever had – but, I think this year was even more fun!  Really glad we added an additional day!


You should be very proud to have Chris on your team – he is one exceptional climbing guide!  Once again we were totally impressed with his professionalism, knowledge and mastery of his craft.


It is both a pleasure and an honor to climb with him!


You guys rock!  Hope to see you again soon!



Thanks for the follow up! Agreed to everything my Dad said above...we had a wonderful time were more than impressed with Sylvan Rocks and especially Chris again this year. We will definitely be back!




June 12, 2014 - Elizabeth

My kids had a wonderful time! Thank you for what you do. you made our trip even more memorable!


July 29


Cheyenne was great. Very patient and always cheerful. Kept us safe at all times.

 Here are a couple of photos that you may want to use. Cheyenne has some on his camera too.

 Thanks for a great vacation adventure.

David Sypes

July 15 

Hey guys just a quick note from the farmers in Canada. Loved it ! Highlight of our trip south! ok well just for the guys . The girls... Baby bears. Ya hard to compete with babys ! We will give you a review and photos when we can.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld

July 4 - Kari C
Yes, we had a great time. The kids were so proud of themselves and loved climbing. They are already making future plans to climb together!! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!!

June 21, 12

 A great big thanks to Lindsey and Chase - you were fantastic!!  Our 4 "Big Kids" (ages 21-24) had a great time climbing!  My husband and I had just as much fun watching!  We all highly recommend this adventure!!
The Wolf crew


June 9, 2012 - Darin and Laurel Schriever 

Thanks,  the boys had a marvelous time and are ready to do it again! 


June 3 - Neil Burri

I would like to thank you for the great day of climbing. We had an enjoyable day. Our guide Michael was very helpful and friendly.  We would like to pursue this a little further, and would like some advice on how we should go about this. I understand it will be a process.

Thank you again.


Thanks Daryl! Either Lindsay or I will be sure to post a review. You guys are awesome. Our guide was a total professional and equipped us with what we needed to be safe, have fun, and keep going higher. Had a great time.

I'll post some of our photos to the facebook page so you can do with as you please.




My daughters (21 and 22) went climbing with Chris on Sun May 6th.
They had an awesome time, both learned a lot and said they would be back to Sylvan Climbing.
Thank you so much for helping make my daughters birthday one of her best yet!

Wendy Elliott


Aug. 2 - Steve Mach

Spud was an awesome guide.

We accomplished everything we had sought to accomplish in terms of learning technique and getting in a few climbs. Mike was so thorough that My daughter and I had no fears .

We would like to move onto the spires on our next outing. I appreciate your professionalism and that of Mike (aka Spud)

I will try to post something on trip advisor soon.

Thanks Again for making our day special.


July - Lisa B

Hi Daryl!

My family had an awesome experience with your climbing school.  My girls  ( ages 8 and 10 ) loved it!  Attached are a few photos!



We had a great time.  It was the highlight of the trip.  The guys were great and we will pass your name along to friends and family.

I posted on Trip Advisor the same day we got home.

Best Wishes,



July 28, 2011 -  Steve V

Just wanted to send a quick email to tell you we had a great day with Chris. It really could not have been better. Chris was outstanding and covered all we wanted to do.
Good instruction on top roping and three great climbs.
We will be back out next July and hope to see you all again then.
The smile on our faces in these pictures show our pleasure.

July 23, 2011 - Kevin R. Whitney MD
Chris was awesome, very knowledgeable and focused on climbing.  It was a perfect experience to get Hunter back into the sport.  We are already looking for more climbing opportunities in our area.  Next trip west we will need to hook up with Sylvan  Rocks to climb Devil’s Tower.  You run a top rate organization with top rate guides.
Have a great day

July 22, 2011 - Lori Roberts

My husband and boys had a great time with Matt – everything they had hoped for – it was the first time for all of them!  Thanks for a great day.


21 July 2011

Hi Daryl

Thanks again for such a fun day.  You are an excellent teacher. Thank you for your patience.  We are sending a couple of pictures of Ty having a great time on the rocks. 

Gord, Rhonda, and Tyler

July 16, 2011 - Keith Kimbrell, M.D.

Dear Cheyenne,

    Sorry this response is late. I had to get my son to help me send a digital picture I took of you. I had a spectacular time. Thank you for all of your attention and instruction. Invaluable. I can't wait to climb again. Please use me as a reference anytime. Come see me in Crossville, Tennessee anytime.

July 11, 2011 - Shela

Hi Daryl, Brent had a blast!  It really was a lot of fun for him and for us that were watching.  It has inspired us to look for opportunities for Brent to climb here so that one day when we are back he could do a really cool climb with you!

We do have pictures.  I will have my daughter upload soon.


July 7, 2011 - Cindy Gebauer

All the girls had a wonderful time when they climbed the first day with Chris.  He did an excellent job encouraging and challenging each of them.  Climbing was definitely the highlight of their vacation.  Elizabeth enjoyed the climbing so much she was excited to go out a second day with Cheyenne.  The weather wasn't great but he provided quality climbing opportunities and ensured she had a safe and fun experience.  I think if we would have had more time she'd still be there climbing.  Always another challenge just around the corner!  Both guides did a great job and I would highly recommend Sylvan Rocks, Chris and Cheyenne!  If we get back out that way, we'll certainly be in touch.  I believe the girls have added Devils Tower to their to do list.
Thank you again for a memorable experience!

6-23-2011 - Kristin, Mark, Spencer and Tanner

Sylvan Rocks Climbing,
I wanted to drop a note to say thanks for the rock climbing experience.  The guys all enjoyed themselves.  Thanks to Cheyenne and Chris for their extra patience with the boys.  They were extra supportive and helped Mark climb.  He is scared of heights!  Mark wanted to be able to say he did it.  Thanks Cheyenne for your help we enjoyed our time with you.  Their climbing experience has continued to be a topic of conversation since returning from vacation.
Thanks again!


6-27-2011 Adam

Thanks guys, the experience was the highlight of our trip! Keep doing what you do, hopefully we find our way back there agian! God Bless :)

rock climber

6-27-2011 - Jeff

Hi Daryl,

Thanks for the checkback.  I could not be more pleased with how Chris
conducted the climbs.  We did the 80' and the 180' climbs and my 12 year
old daughter volunteered to be first up and down on the 180 footer.  For
someone with no climbing experience at either of those heights, that is a
strong indication of how safe Chris made her (and the rest of us) feel
during the climbs.  I have no hesitation recommending Sylvan Rocks and
Chris to anyone interested in climbing.  He offered us excellent support
and instruction in recommending appropriately challenging climbs while
offering just the right amount of support and guidance.

On the way out to Yellowstone, we stopped at Devil's Tower and I made an
idle promise to Gary that we should come back to climb it when I retire (in
two years or so).  After the climbs with Chris, the idle promise has moved
up to solid goal, and I will have no hesitation seeking the assistance of
Sylvan Rocks and Chris to make that a reality.

Best Regards,

6-22-2011  -  Rosemarie

Dear Daryl,

Thank you so much for your email.  Bryce had a fantastic time with Michael and Lindsay rock climbing at Sylvan Lake.  It was the highlight of his trip to the Black Hills!  He has had some rudimentary climbing at indoor venues but this is the first time that he had the opportunity to be challenged in a real setting outdoors.

I know he was very excited about doing this on his own and he told me that he learned how to 'belay" (not sure if this is the right word or spelling) as previously he only auto-belayed at the indoor rock climbing venues.

Unfortunately, I don't know if Bryce was able to take any photographs on his cell phone.  He did not have a camera with him and I imagine in the excitement of the moment he was too engrossed with the thrill of the climb to worry about photo moments.

My grandkids returned on Pensacola on Sunday and I am forwarding this message onto Bryce so that he can respond in his own words.

Many thanks for making all the arrangements so easy and for working with my daughter on the waiver and many thanks also for making this a very memorable time for my grandson!   Your help and assistance were very much appreciated.  I also need to add that you are a very congenial and nice person.  It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.
5-27-2011 Joel

Daryl - I climbed with Cheyenne on Wed May 25th. Despite poor weather early on he made the day my best day of climbing ever! He pushed me and it was a great confidence builder. I will recommend your school to anyone interested in climbing. I will return as well!. Sincerely, Joel

Ians Best day ever - complete with drawings.
7-14-2010 - Will

Daryl  - We all had a good time and we definitely appreciate the experience and the patience with all of us.  I know the kids had a great time, even Taylor, especially after conquering that last climb.
Next time we are in the area, we will definitely give you a call again.
7/6/2010 - Adam
Daryl & Cheyenne,  
Thanks for hooking me up with a guide and awesome time while on my recent vacation to Custer State Park.

Cheyenne was an awesome guide! We hit up a few classics, a multi pitch and setup a top rope so I could try my hand a tougher route or two. For being his first season in the area, he was knowledgeable about the area and history of past climbers. I was very interested to learn about the various climbers that have put up the routes we climbed.

I would certainly recommend your services to friends visiting the area, and to ask if Cheyenne is available. 
Here's a couple of photos & a video we took during the climbs.

Short video we took at the peak of Spire #2.

7/1/10 - Clifford
We did have a great time!!!  Wanted to says thanks myself now...I expect Madeline will help me write another more lengthy response tonight. We do have some unfinished business with Debbie.
Rock climbing with Sylvan is a "must do"...and how anyone can be any better than Archer I will never know...very encouraging and what you can to keep him on staff. If we come back up next year (which we are already discussing)  you guys are already on our list.    Thanks again!   Clifford

06/28/2010 - Curt
Daryl, Carly and I had a great time!  There is a stereotype out there that ski instructors, kayak instructors, and rafting guides all have some type of superiority complex and can make beginners feel like idiots whether its deserving or not.  I have experienced this on occasion myself.  For that reason, I was concerned that rock climbing instructors might fall into that camp as well.  However, Chris, Archer, and particularly our instructor Reggie were all great guys who were serious about safety but very easy going the rest of the time.  They answered our questions and were interested in hearing from some of the experienced climbers in our class. 
I will put something along these lines on Trip Advisor. 
Thanks for kindly setting me straight on the campfire regulations.  I lived in Denver for 5 years and remember always being allowed to have a fire in national forest lands as long as it was 200 feet from a trail or water.  I thought this applied to BHNF too.  However, it makes sense not to allow it here since we have much more fuel in the form of grass than Arapaho and Roosevelt NF.  Thanks again.
06/28/2010 - Chad
I very much enjoyed the day - Matt was great, so was the climbing, a very beautiful area.  Thanks! 
06/26/2010 - Tonya
Thank you so much!  We had a great time!  We did tons of stuff in South Dakota.
Helicopter ride, horseback riding, boating, tubing, swimming, hiking and everyone agreed today was their favorite day and rated it a 10.  Lindsey was awesome.  Fun and patient.  Thanks for waiting on us when we got lost.  We really appreciated it.
Thanks again,
June 20, 2011 - Anita

Daryl and Lindsay,
We are home now from our western road-trip (nearly 2000 miles from Denver and back, 5 National Parks, 7 hotels/cabins and no telling how many miles of hiking!!!). However, when I asked each grandchild what was their most favorite thing about the trip, they have all said it was the rock climbing class with Lindsay.

That morning when we arrived I was really worried that the weather just wasn't going to cooperate and with our tight schedule I knew we couldn't postpone to another day. The kids had been looking forward to the class ever since the day that I asked if they wanted to do it for their birthday present for the year (they all have birthdays in the spring and summer). I knew they would be very disappointed if they didn't get the chance to try. Lindsay was a real trooper with the weather conditions and four inexperience kids. She was patient and informative, teaching them so much about climbing and rappelling. I felt that they safe under her watchful eye and trusted her to decide if the weather was just too bad to go on. I think she picked up on how much the kids were looking forward to it though and hung in there with them. Thanks soooo much Lindsay!

The rest of the trip every time the kids were around rocks they were climbing on rocks trying to find finger and foot holds (not high but sideways like she first taught them). Brandon used bought a book on rock climbing at a book store at one of our stops and read completely through it on the trip. I think he will one day continue to do rock climbing as a sport. Nathan faced and overcame his fear of heights that I think will last if watching him climb on rocks later and hike along some of the ledges is any indication.

I will go online and post a review and add some pictures once we get everything unpacked. If you finish the guide book you can just contact Wayne through this address. The company he works for prints anything from softbound to hardbound books and in small to large numbers.

Thanks again for making memories for my grandchildren that I know will last a lifetime.

June 14, 2011 - Kevin E
We all had a great time(even Logan enjoyed most of the day) and I think you made a future avid climber out of Elliot as he is already asking when we can do that again.
It was a great stress reliever for Chris and I and we will definitely give you the thumbs up review. If things work out we are looking at puting together a Devils tower or return trip to the park later this summer.
Thanks again and have a great season.
06/13/2010 - Phillip and Katherine
Hi Daryl,  Everything was great!  Katie and I had a wonderful time, please tell Archer that we thought everything was awesome.  "Pretty well" is definitely a understatement.  Katie still feels bad that she bailed on South Tower, so please extend her apologies to Archer.
We did get some good photographs, let us go through them and if we have any up to snuff, we will share.
I loved the trailer, that was a great idea.  It saved us so much time not having to drive to Hill City. Good Job!  We may try to get back in the Fall,  but for sure next Spring. I hope to bring my daughter out on the next trip. Again, you guys are great, I am never disappointed coming out to South Dakota, we just love the area and the people.
We wish you the best, and will post comments. Thanks...
June 12, 2011 - Ben C
Yeh thanks for taking me out and i was fine with the being in the not so good weather gave me some experience in how to deal with wet slippery rock and yeh just gotta keep working on different apsects of becoming a good climber and learning the equipment hopefully i will be able to get out a good amount this summer as long as im not too busy
05/16/2010 - Ed
Thanks Daryl, I did enjoy the climbing, and learning to use the equipment I had not tried yet. Im still pretty giddy about the experience of getting out of the gym and a little higher in the air! I plan to climb (6 hour guide) with you guys again during the second half of June. I would like to see the Cathedral spires or the Needles but would be happy to explore other routes in the Outlets and Middle Earth as well. When you have time, if you could check with Chris I would love to hear what you would suggest for me for area/routes and progression. Chis did a good job. I appreciate his focus on safety. I will have a look at my schedule soon and try to coordinate with his schedule. If he is not available I would be happy to climb with you as well. Thanks again!
06/23/2010 Tim
Daryl,The Pea Ridge High School AP Biology Trip of a Lifetime was a complete success!   The kids truly had a great time and rock climbing with Sylvan Rocks Climbing School was truly a highlight.  Your 4 guides were great with our kids and after spending the day with them I am pretty sure that out of our 14 kids that 6 or 7 of them (maybe more) will be looking for rock climbing classes and clubs when they head off to college. 
It was a tremendous experience and I hope to bring my own family up to South Dakota in the future and when I do you can bet that we will be looking up Sylvan Rocks!
Thanks for all of your help in making our trip a memorable one,
09/11/2009 - SamKristy
Our family of four participated in the Sylvan Rock Climbing adventure at Sylvan Lake in SD this summer. While we did many activities in South Dakota (Devil's Tower, Mt. Rushmore, a chuckwagon dinner, and more), this was, by far, the highlight of our trip. Our 6 year old enjoyed the "tower of death," our fourteen year old and her dad had fun trying all of the climbs. Even I, who am afraid of heights, did two climbs and was proud of myself for making it to the top of each one. I highly recommend this as a memorable experience for any family. You don't need to be athletic or have any experience... just a willingness to try something new.

09/10/2009 - Susan
My son (15) and I did the six hour excursion with Archer. He was a terrific instructor - very patient and supportive and yet encouraging when needed. I was hesitant about rock climbing - my son was more interested - but I felt really safe and was surprised I was actually able to do it. We started our vacation to the Black Hills with the rock climbing trip and it was definitely the right choice. My son loved it as did I and it was the highlight of our trip. We will definitely look up Sylvan Rocks again if we are in the area. Thanks!
09/08/2009 - Juan Pablo
We climbed with Daryl, a day of great fun a nd very pleasant and professional company. He made the trip the most important day of our stay in S.Dakota. After the Primal Quest experience we definetly needed a climbing experience with Sylvan Rockes climbing MASTER
09/06/2009 - Casey
I climbed with Matt and was completely impressed. Have climbed with another larger rock climbing school and Sylvan Climbing matches up with anyone!!!!
09/04/2009 - Jessika
I would recommend Sylvan Rocks to anyone. My sister and I did a 6 hour day with Archer and it was one of the best things we did during our trip. I hope to tackle Devil's Tower in the future!
09/01/2009 - Bob Ogle
My 9 year old son and I took the 6 hr basic was awesome. We joined the local rock gym as soon as we got back home. Archer was our guide for the day and he was outstanding. We'll be back next year for sure.
08/28/2009 - The Goffs
What a great experience - it MADE our trip! Our boys, ages 10 & 13, had a blast in the 1/2 day class with Lindsey and learned a lot. They can't wait to come back and do the full day. Daryl went out of his way to fit us in at the last minute, and we're so glad he did.
08/26/2009 - RatePoint Reviewer
Daryl was great company and a superb guide - we had a full days climbing and only wish we had more time with him.
08/25/2009 - David
Daryl,Pete, and the other guide did a good job with a diverse group of climbers (age and experience). They are all very patient and had a great sense of humor. Sylvan rocks does a great job. Would highly recommend!
08/23/2009 - Traci
I did a 6hr climb with Archer, and it was awesome. I had such an amazing day, and I would recommend Sylvan Rocks to anyone. Thanks Archer.
08/16/2009 - Dan K
Safety is very important to me. Daryl did an excellent job of ensuring all had a safe positive experience as skills would allow. We are grateful for his expertise and compassion. Dan
07/26/2009 Paul F
My wife, daughter and I took the 6 hour basic rocks course from Chris. This was the highlight of the whole 9 day vacation in the Black Hills. Climbing at Sylvan Lake was the best. We ran into Daryl and Archer at Devils Tower two days later and I wish we had the time to climb there also. A++ for Sylvan Rocks. I will be back.
07/26/2009 Charlie
I attended an introductory climbing adventure with a fitness center group. The instruction was excellent. Conditions were safe and pleasant. I hope to come back next year and do it all again
07/24/2009 - Caroline
By FAR the best thing I did during my 3 months in the Black Hills! The guides with Sylvan Rocks are fantastic. 3 of us went with Chris (and 2 tagged along to watch and photograph), and we had a GREAT time. He did a wonderful job of matching the 6 hour tour to our abilities and expectations, while teaching and challenging us all. SO MUCH FUN! Worth every penny and every sore muscle!
07/23/2009 - tommy
My 17 year old son and I had the time of our lives. It was the highlight of our vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Andy, our instructor was awesome. He was super patient and super safe. I truly never dreamed that by days end my son and I would climb a 200 foot tall spire. I would recommend Sylvan Rock to anyone and everyone.
07/21/2009 - Diane V
My 20-year younger brother and I, who will soon turn 66 y/o, went rock climbing and rapelling with Lindsay on Sunday, 21 July. Our motivation was to snap some photos for Facebook of an "extreme" vacation. Undaunted by my age and severe lack of physical prowess, Lindsay bravely took us on and taught us the basics sufficient to provide a memorable experience and laughs for a lifetime. Lindsay embodied all the traits you would hope for in an instructor -- patience, compassion, encouragement, experience and expertise and above all, safety consciousness. Thanks and special kudos to Lindsay!!
07/15/2009 - Seth Hawkins
I scheduled a last-minute lesson (day before) for my 6- and 9-year-old. Despite the logistical difficulties of such short notice, Daryl was accomodating and wonderful to work with in scheduling an appropriate class. Chris, our guide, was fantastic with the kids. I have seen many guides/instructors who have trouble adapting to younger children and was delighted to see how well Sylvan Rocks caters to this age group. Our experience was perfect from start to finish. I have climbed all over the country and was amazed at the climbing opportunities in SD -- truly world-class -- and at the quality of Sylvan Rocks' program. I would be excited to bring my children back again and would enthusiastically recommend SD in general and certainly Sylvan Rocks in particular for parents looking to introduce their kids to climbing.
07/15/2009 - Matt Johnson
I had a great time going up the tower over the weekend. Top notch guide service all the way. Thanks again Chris!
06/24/2009 -  J. Kruse
My family was out in the hills for a family reunion. Four of us went rock climbing with Daryl and had an amazing time. Next time we will need to take the rest of the family. We had the time of our lives and my 14 y/o nephew talked about it nonstop for the rest of the day!!! Daryl taught us with lots of patience and lots of humor. He is an excellent teacher - we learned things without even realizing that we were being taught. We had so much fun while maintaining safety as a priority! I've done some climbing before, but I learned lots of new tips and tricks and came home a better climber than I started. These will be memories that will last a lifetime. My only regret is that we only had the morning to climb, not the whole day. I would highly recommend this for anyone with a sense of adventure who wants to have an amazing time. The views from the top are the best! Thanks!
06/03/2009 - Bob
Hey Daryl, I had an awesome time Saturday. Chris was a great guide. He prompt me to finish what i started in a suttle way, and i completed every climb he suggested,with a few struggles on riddle lol. Chris said i should check out Granite sports. I did and bought my own shoes,harness, and belay(sp). I'm really looking forward to my next climb. be contacting you soon.
05/12/2009 - Libby Burkhart
The staff at Sylvan Rocks is outstanding. Patient, caring, professional and above all safety minded. I enjoyed every minute and never once felt unsafe.
04/27/2009 - Mark Orsag
These guys are awesome! Whether you are just starting out or already have some outdoor or gym experience, they will find the right routes and methods for you!
04/27/2009 - Hannah
We used Sylvan Rocks to take a group of children ages 9-12 climbing. They were fabulous! The guides were great about showing the kids a few key climbing techniques, then let them get comfortable on the rock near the ground before putting them on ropes. They were very encouraging to all of the kids no matter how high they went or how many climbs they did
04/26/2009 Jeanne
Sylvan coordinated a rock climb for my family at Palisades State Park near Sioux Falls last July, and I have to say it was one of the highlights of our trip to South Dakota!!! My boys, ages 10 and 12, had a blast! Everyone I talked to/worked with at Sylvan was friendly and professional. I would recommend this for anyone looking for something a little different, adventurous and fun!
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