Ascent of Oglala Lakota County High Point on 2004-05-20

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Thursday, May 20, 2004
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Oglala Lakota County High Point
    Location:USA-South Dakota
    Elevation:3718 ft / 1133 m

Ascent Trip Report

Bell Hill is the probable highpoint of Oglala Lakota County (formerly known as Shannon County), one of the counties that comprise the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I approached the area from south, out of Nebraska.

I drove through this hell-hole town called Whiteclay, Nebraska. It's not a town but a collection of mini-marts that sell alcohol. The Pine Ridge Reservation is a dry reservation, so the citizens of Pine Ridge, the town, walk about two miles each way to Whiteclay to get their booze. Many just pass out along the highway. It was like this the entire way. At times like this, I allow myself to believe in an actual Hell, a place for the people who own and run those mini-marts in Whiteclay to go to when their ticket is punched.

I drove through Pine Ridge the town and then north on US-18 to a dirt road going east. I drove in four miles and parked near a cattle grate not far from the presumed highpoint hill. The area is very pretty, with rolling hills and grasses, spotted by a few trees. But trash is everywhere, as are burned-out cars.

I didn't push my luck. I got out, ran to the top, looked around, and ran back. I didn't want to stick around. The whole place has a very unpleasant vibe. I stayed the night in Hot Springs. A few storms kicked up and dropped rain as I drove.

Technically, Oglala Lakota County has five highpoint areas, but four are tiny blips nearby Bell Hill and easily sighted to be lower. Thus, I did not visit them. The county does not have a county seat. It was unorganized up until 1982, but it is so poor, it still contracts all county services to neighboring Fall River County. It is just one of two (I believe) counties outside of Alaska that lack a county seat.

Name change: In November 2014, voters in Shannon County elected to drop the name in favor of Oglala Lakota County. It became official May 1, 2015.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:70 ft / 22 m
    Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Trailhead:3648 ft / 1111 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country

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