Ascent of Black Elk Peak on 2016-10-14

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Karen Musser
Date:Friday, October 14, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Black Elk Peak
    Location:USA-South Dakota
    Elevation:7231 ft / 2204 m

Ascent Trip Report

Again, we saw a lot of wildlife today. Bison, turkey, deer, and several mountain goats. Very rewarding. We parked at the second Sylvan Lake TH where you can grab either USFS Trail #9 or #4. We took Trail #9 up the state HP. The various signs report the hike as 3 miles; 3.5 miles, and one said 4 mile to the top. Based on my pedometer and time on the trail I would think it was over 3.5 but less than 4. I used 3.9 miles. The mountain pine beetle has destroyed much of the ponderosa pines but they state park did a nice job at the beginning of the hike of maintaining the trees and hauling out the dead lumber. The price to get in was stiff. $20 for a car with 2 passengers and there is a mandatory wilderness registry once you hit the Black Elk Wilderness Boundary.

Still the highly eroded granite pinnacles along the hike make this an interesting hike and we saw the white fur of mountain goats on the way up. The CCC outdid themselves with this very interesting structure at the top. It has many rooms, a basement, a tower, steel bridge, and a cistern/dam at the summit.

I would enjoyed my 38th state HP more if it were not for the winds. I explored and scrambled much of the top pass the dam but sustained winds of 35 mph and gusts of 45 to 50 were beating me up and at some point enough was enough. I picked up another 150 feet of add gain scrambling around the backside chutes for fun before climbing back up to the tower where Karen was huddled in the basement to keep warm eating her celebratory Charleston Chew Bar.

On the way down, we finally saw people. On the way up it was all us! But groves of people that left later in the morning started up so we slid down Trail #3 and then over to #4 to see I could go play on Little Devil Tower. The summit of that sweet little add on was well worth the extra trip.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1656 ft / 503 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1121 ft / 340 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12.1 km
    Grade/Class:1 with 3 opportuniti
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Very Windy, Clear
40F to 65F Windy gust to 50
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1256 ft / 382 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1086 ft / 332 m; Extra: 170 ft / 51m
    Loss on way in:170 ft / 51 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Route:USFS Trail #9
    Start Trailhead:Sylvan Lake  6145 ft / 1872 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:951 ft / 289 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 551 ft / 168 m; Extra: 400 ft / 121m
    Gain on way out:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Route:USFS Trail # 3 to #4
    End Trailhead:Junction with Little Devil TH and Trail #4  6680 ft / 2036 m
Ascent Part of Trip: SD HP harney

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Black Elk Peak2016-10-14 a1656 ft / 505 m
2Little Devils Tower2016-10-14 b515 ft / 157 m
Total Trip Gain: 2171 ft / 662 m    Total Trip Loss: 2171 ft / 662 m

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