Climbers Cherish End of Season

by: Jack Torness

The hot and humid temperatures of the summer afternoons have now left, bringing in the cool, brisk days of fall. The seasonal change ushers in a new breath of excitement for climbers across the country, and for the Black Hills community, a time to relish on the tops of granite rock spires in pristine condition.

The fall is a special time for climbers. Mostly, because it finally allows climbers to climb that hard project that they’ve been working on all summer in the blistering heat. September and October allow a window of quality weather for climbing. It also blesses the locals with a well needed break from the tourists’ yearly questions.

This recent quietude in climbing areas such as The Outlets near Sylvan Lake, The Needles Eye, and the Ten Pins, surprised Robbie Freidel and me last weekend as we spent two enjoyable days on the summits of some of the Needles’ classic climbs. With not another soul in sight, Robbie and I watched the first rays of light shine upon the tallest spires facing East in the morning frost of the empty Needles Eye parking lot. We had it all to ourselves and enjoyed a wonderful morning climb up Hitching Post Rock.

Days such as these seem to stick out in my mind. The summer success stories on the rock all seem to blend into one huge blur; while the clear sunny days of September spawn a change in motivation towards “hyped” weekend climbing trips where everybody seems to be on their game. This is what these months are all about for us climbers: a few last hurrahs on the summits before winter sets in.