An alternative to hiking and biking- check out climbing in the hills!
CUSTER, S.D.- Located in Custer, Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service allows climbers of all skill levels to experience Custer State Park from bottom to top.
Brandon Emery, owner and guide at Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service, describes the area as “one of the most concentrated climbing areas probably in the country- very underrated and right in our backyard. So a good way to experience the outdoors and stay active and fit.”
“We have a four hour intro climb that’s like our group climb. So we get new climbers out, lots of families, kids, scout groups, everybody just gets to learn the very basics of climbing. We also do private six and eight hour climbs. You know, that can also be great for beginners who just want to be able to have more one on one instruction, spend a little more time climbing. We do also offer packages for Devil’s Tower, so we’ll do two day trips or three day trips where we either climb one or two days in Custer and then take people to the top of Devil’s Tower,” Emery says.
If you haven’t climbed before, that’s okay! An experienced guide will “show you the ropes.” Emery says that’s what the guides are there for!
“We’re teaching people how to put harnesses on. They’ve never even done it, and by the end of the day, we’re standing on top of a big, cool rock. So it’s great for the general public, there’s no experience needed. A lot of times people will start to think like, maybe I’m not strong enough or whatever – I can’t do a pull up even. Well, that’s fine, you don’t need to be able to do that at all. Climbing is all from our legs, and I tell everybody that if you can hike to the base, there’s a rock out there…for you.”
Certified guides lead the adventures, and it’s the only guide service in South Dakota accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association.
“I never tell people that rock climbing is a safe sport. There’s always some inherent risks that we can’t control associated with it. However, I feel like we can really successfully mitigate about 95 percent of risk,” says Emery.
Climbing adventures offer locals a different view of the park they grew up visiting.
“I think it’s so different than just like going on a hike. A lot of those things, even if you spend time hiking and checking out these areas, all of a sudden now you’re 200 feet above them and looking down from a new perspective and point of view that you’ve seen before,” Emery adds.
Plus, Emery says the trips help locals to get away from some of the busy areas.
“I also think the cool thing is that we’re all really good at getting away from the busyness of the trails and whatnot. So you get a lot of more quiet and tranquility when we’re out climbing, where we’re not right on the main trails with a bunch of people,” he says.
For more information on Sylvan Rocks Climbing School and Guide Service or to sign up for a climb, click here.