476 Wyoming 24, Devil's Tower National Monument, USA
Devil's Tower Devil's Tower National Monument Reviews
Climbing Devils Tower May 04, 2009
Years ago I had a chance to climb Devils Tower -- or more accurately, get dragged up Devils Tower by two rock-climbing friends of mine.
I say I was dragged, because being the middle climber in a group is the easiest gig.
The lead climber has to put in the rocks, chocks, cams and other protection to save you in case of a fall. The idea is that if you put in protection every three feet, the furthest you can fall is six feet. The last climber, belayed from above, has to remove all of the protection. It takes a lot of exertion to hang there and fiddle with the equipment.
The middle climber -- me -- had to simply climb. When my arms or legs got tired, and they did frequently, I could simply let go, hang in place and try again.
We took the Durrance route, I believe. (This was a few years ago.) It was the first route climbed on Devils Tower using traditional climbing techniques.
We started about 8 a.m. About half an hour into the climb, I dropped a 135mm lens. It made an interesting noise as it bounded over the rocks and out of sight below. Fortunatly nobody was hit.
By about 11:30, I had drunk all of my water, and everybody else's water. I was getting cranky. But the Donner Party probably ate the complainers first, so I kept my thoughts to myself.
My instructors, in my opinion, we're very instructive. The lead climber would sit bemused on a rock a few feet above my head and patiently instruct where to jamb my fists -- I had a few ideas of my own -- and how to "chimney" up the crevices wide enough to hold my whole body.
By mid afternoon, we were scrambling up the rocks that make up the final fourth of the climb. At this point, it's not really climbing. You just hop from rock to rock.
The view from top of Devils Tower made the whole ordeal worthwhile. You can see the Belle Fourche River Valley spread out before you like a dizzying blanket of green and brown. Inyan Kara stands on the southern horizon, and to the east the Black Hills of South Dakota stand like a far-off wall.
The top itself was a little surprising, very rounded and loaded with anthills. In fact, we were immediately accosted by swarms of flying ants. I signed the book, encased in a steel tube at the very top of the anthill, read through some of the entries, and prepared to descend.
On the way up, I had been bugging my climbing buddies to teach me how to rappel. "We'll do that later," they kept saying. Now it was later. With my back to the abyss, I watched as they rigged up my rappel rope. When it was ready, the lead climber looked at me and said, "Start walking backward."
"Pretty much. Just hold the rope next to your leg, and start walking backward."
So I stepped over the edge and headed down the mountain. I was too thirsty to be scared, and it went better that I expected.
Three rappels and we were again at the base of Devil's Tower. Someone had laid the pieces of my camera lens on a rock, and it surprisingly still work -- if you weren't too fussy about which f-stop you wanted to shoot with.
Half way to the ranger station, we came upon a water fountain. I drank until my sides ached. But it tasted so, so good.
I looked back, and my eyes followed the rock spires to the top of Devils Tower. A couple of tourists stared at me. One asked, "Did you climb that?"
"Ah, yea," I said casually. As if I did this sort of thing all the time.
The fact that I found it exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating and somewhat scary was my little secret.
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Amazing Site! Unique History. Aug 04, 2009
Devils Tower is one of my favorite spots in the Black Hills.
The tower is 867 feet from the base to its summit and is nearly one mile around. The top measures about the length of a football field. In other words, its a little hard to miss, and once you see it, you'll probably have a hard time taking your eyes off of it.
Devils Tower attracts some 4,000 rock climbers each year. I'm not exactly an experienced climber, but I'm guessing its safe to assume its a pretty challenging climb.
Try not to make any climbing plans for the month of June. June has a voluntary climbing closure because many Native American Ceremonies are held during this time. According to the National Park Service,twenty Native American tribes have a cultural affiliation with the tower.
There are a couple different Native American creation stories about the tower that are really interesting, all of which appear to involve a bear. Don't be surprised to hear the tower referred to with names like Bears Tipi.
There's a beautiful trail around the tower. Lovely hike. The last time I was there, the weather was pretty warm. Make sure to pack some sunblock and water. Also, there's a small info center/museum. Very informative!
If you're in the Black Hills, you should really try to see Devils Tower, but keep in mind that it is a sacred site and should be treated with respect.
Jul 17, 2006
Devils Tower rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is one the worlds’ most recognized formations. A small part of the recognition was from its use in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. This 1347 acre park is covered with pine forests, woodlands, and grasslands. Deer, prairie dogs, and other wildlife are seen.
President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument in 1906.
One scientific hypothesis states that Devils Tower is the neck of a small volcano. Another theory says that it is part of a laccolith. A third theory is that Devils Tower is a plutonic plug - an igneous intrusion that failed to reach the surface. What ever it really is, this solid mass of hard rock rises more than 867 feet from its base to its summit.
Climbing is permitted and there are now about 4,000 climbers per year. No one has fallen during the climb but five have died while descending (rappelling) the Tower.
You begin to see the monument about ten miles away and once you get close the drive takes you completely around the huge site. It’s about a mile drive, past a large meadow where Prairie Dogs have taken over, then on through a very nice forest of pine trees. Caution should be taken here as the deer are heavy in this area.
Native American's consider Devil's Tower a sacred place, and have several legends on how it was formed. One story tells of seven sisters playing in the woods who encountered a bear. They ran to a small rock where they stood upon it and prayed, "Please take pity on us rock and save us from the bear." The rock touched by their faith took pity on the girls and grew into the sky. The bear tried to climb up the rock, digging its claws into the sides, carving them as he slid down, until he broke all of his claws off and crashed to the ground. The seven sisters were then taken into the sky by the Great Spirit. Today if you look up in the night sky you can still see the seven sisters, they are the seven stars of Pleiades Cluster. The rock also remains as Devil's Tower.
Part of the 2006 Summer around the Western U.S. travel blog
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