The Lodge at Deadwood News

Extreme Photo of the Week

Posted: Tue, September 13, 2011

National Geographic

Imagine climbing one of these granite spires. Or ten. In a single day.

Photograph by Dawn Kish

Climbing legend John "Verm" Sherman, 52, first considered climbing the Ten Pins in a day—known as "the Strike," in the Needles of the Black Hills—two decades ago. One partially paralyzed arm, a separated right shoulder, and two artificial hips later, he gave it a shot last July with climbing partner Cheyenne Chaffee, a local guide. "Even though the Strike requires a degree of physical stamina, the main challenge was mental—holding it together on run-out terrain where a fall could be a career-ender," says Sherman.

Here, Sherman is seen leading on Super Pin, an elite-level climb and the most iconic of the Ten Pins. It is known for its "X" factor, which, in climbing, is the potential for a deadly fall due to lack of protection. "I stood up very, very carefully on the summit," recalls Sherman. "It's about the size of a 12-pack on top."

Getting the Shot
Shooting all Ten Pins in one day is as much a challenge for the photographer as it is for the climber. For this shot, photographer Dawn Kish, a longtime rock climber, set herself on a nearby pin, Tent Peg. She then rappelled up and down a line to get the best angle. “We were tired in the middle of the day, but we had some Coca-Cola and Cheetos,” notes Kish, who captured the image using a Nikon D7000. “This camera is fast and light. For climbing shots, you need that flexibility.”