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Ten Pins
Area/Range

Ten Pins

 
Ten Pins

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: South Dakota, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 43.82472°N / 103.53083°W

Object Title: Ten Pins

Activities: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Elevation: 6000 ft / 1829 m

 

Page By: Dow Williams

Created/Edited: Jun 18, 2006 / Oct 9, 2006

Object ID: 201202

Hits: 4797 

Page Score: 87.64%  - 25 Votes 

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Overview/Routes

The Ten Pins area is located further east on the Needles Highway from its name sake, the Needles Eye. Travel through the tunnel by the Needles Eye and park on the right at an extreme notch in the road that goes back left just before the Cathedral Spires parking lot. From the hard 180 degree turn in the road (which will face your vehicle towards the Cathedral Spires {photo}, the Ten Pins will be on your right), park and walk down a gully. You'll pass End Pin (on your left) and Split pin (on your left up against a larger body of rock).
 
Ten Pins, Needles
 
 
Tricouni Nail Climb
 

(Ten Pins Map)
This is the most popular set of spires in Needles. King Pin and Tent Peg- 5.7’s, and Tricouni Nail- 5.8-9 are well protected, while Hairy Pin and Super Pin are considered two of the most exposed 5.10’s around.

The Ten Pins
End Pin - 1 route
Fin - 1 route
Hairy Pin - 1 route
King Pin - 1 route
Moby Dick - 1 route
Not the Pawn - 1 route
Podunk Pinnacle - 1 route
Queen Pin - 2 routes
Reunion Rock - 2 routes
Safety Pin - 1 route
Sandberg Peak - 2 routes
Split Pin - 1 route
Superpin - 1 route
Tent Peg - 1 route
The Pawn - 2 routes
Totem Pole - 1 route
Tracks Rock - 1 route
Tricouni Nail- 1 route

By most accounts the most classic of the Ten Pin climbs is Tricouni Nail which I climbed on a trip in April, 2006. This is a sustained 5.8-5.9 route with good pro except for a little run out at the top. The summit barely holds two people and allows for the unique simul-rap I had heard so much about. We tied the ropes together and one climber goes off one end of the spire while the other goes off the other end, no gear or station in place. Just make damn sure when you come off rappel that your partner is down on deck.

For a good start to your day, walk back up the road to the next pullout west (past Cleopatra) and take a trail to your left into the woods a short distance to find Patience Pawn. This is a mellow 5.7 to get a feel for the rock texture and run out of the routes you will find at Ten Pins.

Getting There

 
Patience Pawn Climb
 

Proceed past the Mount Rushmore National Monument south of Rapid City, SD on Highway 16 and turn left on Highway 87. Highway 87 (Needles Highway) is a 14-mile long road through tunnels and granite outcroppings referred to as the Needles area, between Highway 16 and Alt 16. It has several 180 degree switchbacks and is closed in the winter.

Travel through the tunnel by the Needles Eye and park on the right at an extreme notch in the road that goes back left just before the Cathedral Spires parking lot. From the hard 180 degree turn in the road (which will face your vehicle towards the Cathedral Spires {photo}, the Ten Pins will be on your right), park and walk down a gully. You'll pass End Pin (on your left) and Split pin (on your left up against a larger body of rock).

Red Tape

 
Ten Pins, Needles
 

There are no permit requirements to climb in Custer State Park. However, permits are required to enter and/or park. From May 1 through October 31 the fees are $5 per person or $12 per vehicle. Off season they are reduced to half that amount. These permits are valid up to 7 days. An annual park entrance pass is $23. These are 2006 rates.

Fires are only allowed at designated sites, picnic areas, and established campgrounds in approved fire pits. Firewood must be cut-to-size to fit within the confines of the pits (chainsaws are not allowed). Open fires are strictly prohibited in the French Creek Natural Area or outside the confines of established campground and picnic areas in the park. You will see evidence of serious out of control fires in the past therefore various other restrictions might be in place when you visit.

When to Climb

We climbed the Needles (Ten Pins) and Rushmore areas in April. The Needles Highway is not open year around and was not fully open in April. I consider this area more of a late spring, late fall or summer destination.

Camping

 
Cathedral Spires
 

There is a free climbers campsite complete with pit toilet. As you pass Mount Rushmore on your right, look for a pullout on the right hand side. There should be a camping sign posted. This site is exclusively reserved for climbers.

Camping permits are required year-round for any other areas. Some camping fees are reduced (Basic Camping Fee $6.00) when water systems and outhouses are winterized. Self-registration may be required. At Custer State Park firewood is available at Custer Resort Company stores (closed in the off-season).

You can find resorts at Sylvan Lake, Legion Lake, Blue Bell and the State Game Lodge, all located within Custer State Park. Each resort has its own thing going, ranging from the stately Game Lodge, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to the mini dude ranch at Blue Bell.

Custer State Park campgrounds offer a variety of sites. Camping fees range from $13-18 per unit. None have hookups. Call 1-800-710-CAMP (2267) or go online to www.campSD.com.

Climbing Conditions

Weather
Black Hills Climbing Coalition
Custer State Park

Sylvan Lake, Middle Earth, the Outlets, Needles Eye Area, Ten Pins, and the Cathedral Spires have traditional ethics. If a new route is to be bolted, this must be done from the ground up on lead with no direct aid.

External Links

Ten Pins Map
Weather
Black Hills Climbing Coalition
Custer State Park

Guide Books

• Recommended Climbing Routes in the Needles of Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota by John Page and Mount Rushmore National Memorial Climber's Guide by Vernon R. Phinney, both available at Granite Sports, Hill City, SD, 605 574-2425
• Touch the Sky by Paul Piana (Out of print, try to find it used on the internet)

Images

Cathedral SpiresTricouni Nail ClimbTricouni Nail ClimbTen Pins, NeedlesTen Pins, NeedlesTricouni Nail ClimbCleopatra
Tricouni Nail ClimbPatience Pawn Climb