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The view from atop Sylvan Peak, elevation 7,000 feet. Photo by Paul Horsted.
The view from atop Sylvan Peak, elevation 7,000 feet. Photo by Paul Horsted.

Eight Over Seven

Dec 17, 2020

Our Black Hills are gentle mountains. You don’t need ropes, axes and harnesses to tackle even our highest peaks. And most are climbable even in winter — especially in a mild winter like we’ve enjoyed thus far in 2020.

South Dakota has eight peaks that stand 7,000 feet or taller in elevation. Rapid City journalist Seth Tupper wrote about them in 2017, and his reports seem to have inspired a new challenge for hikers, bikers and runners to do all eight.

Erick Sykora of Rapid City took it a step or two further. After months of careful planning and preparation, he hustled to the top of all eight peaks in a single day — a 15-hour day. Here’s the complete account, first published in our Sept/Oct 2020 issue, of how he did it.

Most of us are more apt to tackle the peaks one at a time. If you climb in winter, remember that the days are short this time of year, and some deep canyons can be very dark at high noon. The weather can change quickly at higher elevations. And the frost-freeze cycle that occurs from temperature swings may cause slippery conditions, especially on granite slopes.

But those are precautions, not prohibitions. With common sense and weather-watching, mountain climbing can be a safe and fun four-season activity in the Black Hills.


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