Ascent of Black Elk Peak on 2018-10-16

Climber: Craig Barrett

Others in Party:Malachi Barrett
Date:Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Black Elk Peak
    Location:USA-South Dakota
    Elevation:7231 ft / 2204 m

Ascent Trip Report

Long day of driving from Battle Creek, MI to Western Montana with stops to high point Iowa and South Dakota. After departing Michigan on Monday and driving through Indiana, Illinois and Iowa we spent the day driving through Iowa, Minnesota, Iowa again, Minnesota again and then South Dakota. The morning sunrise in Iowa was spectacular and the Iowa High Point, while not challenging was a perfect reflection of Iowa. Harney Peak or now “Black Elk Peak” was a stark contrast.

The road approaching the Main Summit Route (Trail #9) is treacherous for an inattentive driver. A tight road, hairpin corners, limited signage and in mid-October snow, ice and/or slippery conditions. Slyvan Lake and the surrounding terrain is picturesque and worth a trip by itself. We arrived around 4:00pm and hustled to reach the summit before sunset.

Guide says 4-5 hours and we went up and back in 3 hours and 5 minutes and we probably spent 20-25 minutes in the old firehouse. The hike has plenty of vistas and numerous offshoot and connecting trails to explore. Slippery the last couple hundred feet of ascent and definitely windy but a spectacular view and memorable hike. We passed 7-8 groups on the way up and were the last ones up and down on the day. Sloppy, mixed snow, ice and mud until about 7,000’, then snow, ice and hard rock or dirt.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Slyvan Lake (near Trail #9 start point to Harney Peak, SD) at dusk (2018-10-16). Photo by Craig Barrett.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1231 ft / 375 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route:Trail #9
    Trailhead:Slyvan Lake Campround  6000 ft / 1828 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cold, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy, windy at the top.
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes

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