FKT: Peter Kesting - Black Elk Peak (SD) - 2023-10-04

Route variation
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
47m 32s
GPS track(s)

This was a special FKT for me. Not only was it my last day in the Black Hills area after spending the Summer here but I had attempted this in July and missed it by a mere 50 seconds. 

At 7am on a Wednesday, I was the only car in the parking lot when I arrived. The temperature was in the high 30s but there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the crisp Fall air energized me. In July, the heat and crowds slowed me down. I was also a lot less familiar with the route and felt those factors alone should be enough to get under the time to beat. 

I set up the trail hoping my lungs would do alright in the cold. I didn't feel super sharp partially due to coming off a bout of Covid the week earlier. I just focused on moving smoothly and consistently; moving efficiently on this chunky trail with plenty of rocks to trip on. I reached the top of the first accent (slightly over a mile in) 15 seconds ahead of my last attempt. Mile 2 is fast and I used it to mentally reset before the very blocky summit push. 

I made my way up towards the summit, trying my best to keep my momentum up and over the larger boulders. I reached the summit at just over 27 minutes; 40 seconds faster than my last time. At this point, I felt pretty good about getting the FKT considering I was hung up at the spiral staircase waiting for some people and their hesitant dogs during the decent. 

From here I knew only some sloppy footwork would take me down so I tightened up. By the final mile of decent, I was relieved to see my average time quickly lowering and I finally made it back to the parking lot totally gassed and pretty ecstatic to have the FKT. 

Some things I want to note regarding the route and to whomever lowers this FKT:

  • Start/finish is were the gravel path ends next to the parking lot and not at the trailhead sign.
  • Top of the climb is the metal plaque just outside the door leading into the lookout (after the granite stairs).
  • The route description doesn't specify this but I think the roughly 100 yard variation of the stock trail near the summit is fair game (I ascended the hikers trail and descended the stock trail)

South Dakota is way underrated and I hope be back some day!