Ascent of Sylvan Hill on 2016-10-13

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, October 13, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Sylvan Hill
    Location:USA-South Dakota
    Elevation:7000 ft / 2133 m

Ascent Trip Report

On the way to the hike we were amazed how many animals we saw. Bison, Prairie dogs, long horn steers, turkey, deer and even a fox stalking the prairie dogs. Then we parked at the parking turn out just before the actual turnout with the gate with the switchback road by accident but fine, better parking there and there was about 7 deer to watch before the hike. Then hiked over the small ridge down to the actual TH and we started up the maintenance road switchbacks. Finding the flat grassy pad at the top with the vents overlooking the reservoir, we checked our bearings to bushwhack the CHP. Much blowdown was observed and we had no idea how challenging of a bushwhack we had coming.

Reading the TRs it was clear there were a bunch of false peaks that do not show up on the USGS interval. The reports to do not do the false peaks justice. There are many and they are all sharp pinnacles. Many have great scrambling routes others are pretty technical faces class 5 but many good handholds and granitic rock. We found we had to up and down climb through the blow down to avoid unpleasant tree hopping and as the reports advise stay down off the pinnacles unless you want to add a bunch of vertical gain.

We took the left (southern sides) of the pinnacles on the way out and found the rock to have more interesting minerals and crystals to look at but the blow down was wicked on that side. On the way back we took more of the ridge to ridge and saddles but squirted around more of the north sides of the ridge and found the blowdown much more manageable.

I was able to wing through the blowdown but it gave Karen quite a fit. She does not balance well on the downed logs and it took some time to get to the peak. Total time up and down was over 2 hours. I could have navigated the bushwhack in about an hour out and back but it was about 2 hours and 15 minutes with us together mainly because of the obstacles. We ended up using more than 1 mile to summit mainly because of the meandering around obstacles.We got down as the sun was setting. Some decent views.

Note the final peak also has a false peak and if approached from the east becomes a scramble with some exposure. I backed off that and headed around the backside and approached it from the south and southwest and it was class 2.
Karen was a real trooper doing this ugly bushwhack with me! We both enjoyed the solitude of the backcountry. We ate at the Blackhill Burger Grill and Bar in Custer as our reward. Delicious!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1010 ft / 307 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1010 ft / 307 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.2 mi / 3.5 km
    Grade/Class:1,2, and minor 3
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:910 ft / 277 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 790 ft / 241 m; Extra: 120 ft / 36m
    Loss on way in:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:swtchback maintenacne road to east ridge bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Parking off Route 89  6210 ft / 1892 m
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:890 ft / 271 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 790 ft / 241 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Gain on way out:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    End Trailhead:same  6210 ft / 1892 m
    Time:1 Hours 

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