The people you meet. After a delightful day climbing with Zac the day before, we'd decided that we might climb in the afternoon. Depending on how we felt. So I slept in, and eventually wandered down to the toilet in the morning at a leisurely 9am. When who should I meet but the charming young lady who'd taken my money the previous morning. Katie was making me wait while she cleaned the toilets. An occupation of choice, it gave her more time to climb.
So it turned out she climbed, it turned out I climbed, and by the time the toilets were cleaned and I could use them, we each had a climbing partner for the afternoon.
I went into the booming metropolis of Hill City, to check out the dinosaur museum, and anything else it had to offer (nothing) then took off for a few hours of sightseeing. I drove the Iron Mountain Road, which has curly bridges, (which are hard to take pictures of) and tunnels carved into the mountain that are lined up to see Rushmore through them. More needles, some animal spotting, and a good way to chew up some time.
I'd stopped at the climbing store in town to pick up my own copy of as much guide as there is to the needles, (basically none) and owner? sue had marked in my guide a few selected climbs to do. One of them was "four little fishies" 5.9, with the bolts, "where you need em" according to Sue.
Turned out Katie loved the climb, and there were others over there that we could do as well. Katie won the rock paper scissors for the lead, which was probably just as well. I hadn't done any face climbing in quite a while. And this was serious face climbing. 30feet to the first bolt. Then 30 feet of 5.9 face climbing, picking the right crystal to pull on, past four bolts. Then 60 feet or so of easier ground to the top. Fun for the whole family.
Katie and I ended up chatting on top of the rock into the sunset, and never got around to climbing anything else. Fine with me. Very pleasant company. We then went off and she showed me "Poverty Gulch" where all the climbers and general cheapskates live and camp, in the National Forest just south of the Sylvan Lake, on the road to Custer. There was Katie, who got sick of living in the state park service housing with people that didn't like being outdoors, and moved into a tent. John, A refugee from Michigan, living in his van, and local hardman and new router. (A source of many a fine story about ethics, true stories and perhaps not so ethical ethics) Down the hill was Mike, who I never actually met, and later on some other people camped out as well.
Beers and chatting over dinner... A fine end to a fine day.
Iron Mountain road details
The tunnels are designed to look at Rushmore
Four Little Fishies. 30foot to the first bolt, four bolts for the hard stuff, then 60+feet to the top.
Katie, the fearless Black Hills Climber Chick
Karl, the not so fearless Australian climber guy
Sylvan Lake area at sunset