Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pioneers Of Black Hills Climbing & Caving

They are best know for their cave explorations. But they also pioneered rock climbing in the Black Hills of SD more than 50 years ago. Herb just died last Wednesday at 91.

Conn and his wife, Jan, are best known as the pioneering explorers who mapped Jewel Cave. The southern Black Hills cave, now known to be the second largest in the world, was thought to be a small cave back in 1959 when the Conns first started exploring it

To help finance their caving adventures, the couple lived off the grid at a unique stone home in the Custer area without running water or electricity for more than 50 years.

The Conns first came to the Hills in the 1950s as rock climbers, but they gave up their passion for the peaks of the Needles once they found Jewel Cave when they were in their 40s, Wiles said.

They named many geographic formations in the Needles and Jan Conn was the first woman to complete a Devils Tower ascent.”

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