56 Photos - Oct 24, 2013
Photo: My daughter Amy and I arrived at Devils Tower on the afternoon of Saturday May 11.  We trained on Sunday, and climbed to the top on Monday. Devil's Tower is located in the northeastern corner of Wyoming, a 500-mile drive from Helena, MT (via Billings and Broadus).Photo: Amy and I toured the Tower before meeting some friends for dinner on Saturday afternoon. This photo was taken along the road up to Devils Tower on Saturday afternoon. Devil's Tower National Monument is managed by the National Park Service. Devils Tower was declared the first National Monument in the USA by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906.Photo: Behold - Devil's Tower. There is some debate about exactly how the Tower formed. Some think it is the neck of an ancient volcano, others think it is a laccolith, and some think it is a stock (or plug). All three of possibilites are intrusive igneous formations (aka plutonic formations) that form when magma cools beneath the surface. As the magma hardens, it becomes a fairly durable rock that resists erosion better than the sedimentary rock around it. So, after millions of years intrusive formations like Devil's Tower are exposed as the weaker sedimentary rock around them is eroded away.Photo: This is the west side of the Tower - not the side that we climbed. As magma or lava cools it often shrinks, cracking into geometric columns like those shown in the photo. It is called "columnar jointing" and it provides some great cracks for climbing.Photo: I took this photo as we walked the trail around the Tower on Saturday afternoon. You can see climbers in the shadows. This is the southeast side. Our route on Monday took us up through the shaded area. About 5,000 people climb at Devils Tower each year. Ever since a couple ranchers climbed it  back in 1893, only five climbing deaths have occurred at the Tower.Photo: We camped on the lawn at Devils Tower Lodge on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.Photo: We trained on the north side all day on Sunday, May 12.Photo: More training.Photo: Yours truly.Photo: We did seven pitches on our training day.Photo: For the last practice pitch of the day, Frank took us over to "The Bowling Alley" on the east side.Photo: Photo: My friends Aaron and Lindsey (also from Helena) drove down in their own car, but planned to climb with us. Aaron (the best climber in our group) got sick on Monday, so they didn't get to climb to the top.Photo: Sunday evening dinner at the Devils Tower Lodge. According to the "Indian Country" website, the tower was known by several names, including  "Aloft on a Rock" (Kiowa) and "Bear Lodge" (Lakota). It wasn’t given its demonic name until Col. Richard Irving Dodge led an expedition through Wyoming in 1875.  His interpreter botched the translation, calling it "Bad God’s Tower", which was eventually shortened to Devil's Tower.Photo: The evening before the climb - Lindsey, Aaron, me, Amy enjoying some good beer from Helena.Photo: Our climb on Monday took us up through the shaded area.  I took this photo on Saturday.  You can see a climber about half-way up.Photo: Our route was the white line on the left. It is the called the Durrance Route - the easiest of over 150 possible routes on the Tower.Photo: This was our first pitch (segment). You can see Frank and Amy near the top of that first pitch, and me on my way up (near bottom center of photo).Photo: Aaron and Lindsey can be seen near the bottom of the photo. Soon after this Aaron got sick and they decided not to go up.Photo: Amy and Frank have finished the first pitch. I am about half-way up. Lindsey, Aaron, and another guide are at the bottom.Photo: I am in the white shirt near the below the center of the  photo.Photo: Photo: Getting closer.Photo: Photo: This is the view from the bottom of our last practice pitch on Sunday, and this is where we started the climb on Monday. There had been a fire around the Tower several days before we arrived. That is the Belle Fourche River down there.Photo: This was at the end of our first or second pitch. Frank made sure that we were always connected to bolts on the rock.Photo: Photo: Later that afternoon there was a fellow from Venezuela on the ground with a nice camera. Lindsey asked him to take several photos, which he later sent to me. In this photo Amy and Frank are just above the center of the photo, and I am near the bottom.Photo: That's me in the white shirt.Photo: Photo: Almost there!Photo: One pitch to go.Photo: Frank is on this way up with the ropes. Amy would be next, then I would follow.Photo: Photo: Amy is almost there!Photo: On top of the world! This was May 13, 2013 - sunny, calm, about 80 degrees.Photo: The photographer from Venezuela took a photo of me just as I was taking photos of Frank and Amy - see next photo.Photo: It's best to view the photos on a computer so that you can read the captions as you look.Photo: Amy with our guide, the legendary Frank Sanders. The Tower is a national monument that is managed by the National Park Service. Even if you don't climb it, take the hike around it.Photo: Here is a photo of Frank as he was taking the next photo.Photo: Don't worry, Mom. Our harnesses were connected to bolts on the rock.Photo: Climbing shoes - Purple was the only color they had in my size.Photo: These cans are from 1941 - That October George Hopkins parachuted onto Devils Tower (without permission) as a publicity stunt resulting from a bet. He spent several days up there, waiting for climbers from back east to come rescue him. He was well taken care of. Air planes dropped camping supplies and food for him.Photo: The high temperature was about 85 with no wind and no clouds - perfect!Photo: Photo: Photo: One of the best days ever.Photo: It took 5-6 hours to climb the tower - 7 pitches.Photo: We hated to leave this place, but it was getting late in the day.Photo: What a great place!Photo: The rappel down only took 45 minutes. Two of the three segments were done in darkness.Photo: I'm not sure who took this photo -  Sorry.
To read about this and other adventures (and see photos), go to bigskywalker.com.Photo: I've labeled the location of Frank's lodge - Devil's Tower Lodge.Photo: The lay of the land.Photo: According to this Kiowa story, a great bear was responsible for the look of the Tower. Devil's Tower is sacred to several tribes in the area. For more about their relationship to the Tower I have provided a link beneath the blog. (bigskywalker.com) The painting in the photo was created by Herbert Collins in 1936.Photo: Amy and I walked the trail that circles the Tower. I highly recommend it.