February is the perfect time of year to go ice climbing in South Dakota. By now, the waterfalls have frozen to form challenging routes to the top. It’s the one time of year that you can “walk on water” in South Dakota.
The Black Hills provide many of these opportunities. In Spearfish Canyon you can climb routes like Eleventh Hour Gulch, CommunityCaves and Bridal Veil Falls. There are also two small flows of ice on either side of Bridal Veil that offer their own challenges.
A one-hour hike from the trailhead to get to the frozen flows at Crow Peak west of Spearfish is worth the effort, according to those who have tried it. It takes lots of snow and runoff to create a challenging chunk of ice here, so check the conditions before you head out.
Tackling one of the Cathedral spires along the Needles Highway or SylvanLake presents its own wintertime challenges. Two highly popular climbs are Honeybear near SylvanLake in Custer State Park and PalmerCreek near the Black Hills’ highest mountain, Harney Peak near Hill City.
The Black Hills’ largest formation and most challenging ice climbing can be found on the backside of Harney Peak. It’s best to plan ahead for this trip as it is a six mile hike into the Harney Ice Flow.
It’s always good to have advice from those who do it best. Below are some links to connect you to the climbers in the area.
is a local coalition that works on keeping trails and climbing routes open and clean.
Guides and Rentals: