Herb Conn, the pioneering climber and caver best known for exploring and mapping Jewel Cave National Monument, died of cancer on Wednesday at the age of 91. Along with his wife Jan, Conn made the first ascents of more than 200 routes in the Needles of South Dakota, including classics like East Gruesome. In 1959, the Conns switched their focus to caving after visiting Jewel Cave National Monument in the Black Hills. At the time, only two miles of the cave had been explored. Over the next 20 years, the Conns would explore more than 50 additional miles of the system. For that achievement, they were inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame last September.
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