Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Inyan Kara Mountain is the evidence that has been left on its summit of the 1874 Custer Black Hills Expedition. On a flat rock close to the highest point can be found the inscription "G CUSTER 74". While there is no doubt that the inscription was not carved by George Armstrong Custer himself, there is some debate as to whether it was carved by Colonel William Ludlow or by General George A. "Sandy" Forsyth.
The Bismark Tribune credits Colonel Ludlow with "leading his horse (up Inyan Kara) and high on its flinty side cutting the following name and character, vez. "CUSTER" "74." However, Aris B. Donaldson a writer for the St. Paul Daily Pioneer and Lt. Colonel Fred Dent Grant (President U.S. Grant's son)credit General Forsyth. In any case the carving is still visible to those who know where to look and regardless of personal feelings for Custer, the inscription is a highlight of many ascents of Inyan Kara.
Getting ThereWhile Inyan Kara is located on public US Forest Service lands, access is limited due to the Black Hills National Forest boundary being surrounded by private property. For information on accessing Inyan Kara please see the Red Tape section below.
Once you have obtained information and permission to access the mountain there is no trail to the summit. There are many possible routes to the summit of Inyan Kara and climbers can ascend wherever they find the easiest or most interesting.
Red TapeBecause private property must be crossed to reach Inyan Kara a visit or phone call to the Bearlodge District Ranger Office is required. here is the contact information:
121 South 21st Street, Box 680
Sundance, WY 82729
8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday
August 7, 2009 Trip Report
Black Hills Travel Blog Trip Report