By Lindsay Stephens
Long before camming devices, sticky rubber or kernmantle ropes, a daring duo from the East Coast took to South Dakota¿s Needles with an 80-foot rope, soft iron pitons and tennis shoes. Herb and Jan Conn made their mark exploring and mapping the Needles, as well as ascending classic and sometimes outrageous lines to incredible places. This guide describes over 240 climbs and recounts the stories of this enigmatic Black Hills couple.
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Excellent must have book if you are heading to SD for some climbing!
For me this was a sentimental look back at a beautiful climbing area that I used to visit once a year. I was really hoping that the illustrations would be better than they were and that some of them would be in color to me this was the most disappointing part of the book. I keep hoping someone will come up with a definitive Guide to the needles that will have large clear photographs of The spires and actually show the line of climb. I would say that if you're not already somewhat familiar with the area and know the general parts of the park you might find it it difficult to navigate to the Climb of your choice from this book. For me the best part of it was the reminiscence of the Conns about some of the climbs that was delightful and made up for some of the other shortcomings. This would function better as an e-book because then you could zoom in on some of the photographs most of which are small and a bit on the dark side probably because of the time at which they were taken. I do recommend the book If for nothing else then for some of the Conn's wonderful accounts of the individual climbs. I would also say if you've never been to the area it might be good to have one of the locals accompany you or show you around it is a very bold climbing area with sketchy protection and Long Run outs on many of the routes. But enjoy this book for the nostalgia of it for me that was the best part.
This is one of the most inspirational, comprehensive, and compassionate climbing guide that I have ever read! What a beautiful subject matter and the hours of research that it must have taken to write this guide must have been both exciting and daunting. I highly recommend this guide to anyone brave enough to follow a Conn route.