Trip Start Jun 24, 2008
21Trip End Aug 09, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Devil's Tower, it turns out, is a bastion of North American crack climbing, a tower full of hundreds of sustained cracks of all grades, all hundreds of feet long--if that's your poison. But beyond that, it is a center of friendship, generosity and peace, drawing in climbers and families with an almost gravitational pull, while at the same time radiating out an amazing, rejuvenating energy--and believe me, it's quite a feat for anything to be rejuvenating in July's 95 degree desert heat.
At the center of it all, well, slightly to the side, really, is climbing old-timer and general hardman Frank Saunder's Devil's Tower Lodge, where climbers are welcome to camp for free, for as long as they like, basically inside the national monument, though Frank may ask you to help repaint a guest room, or lug some cinder-blocks if you're caught not looking very busy. Your contributions to the grounds are repaid tenfold in gracious invitations to dinner, climbing beta, and a gloriously uplifting community of climbers who seem to have laid bare their souls in their communal effort to conquer/be conquered by the Tower.
The climbing is fantastic, surprisingly sustained and difficult; at the same time inviting and attainable. The people are phenomenal, and the tourists are entertaining. ("Did you climb up that?" they ask, when they meet you galumphing down the trail, sweaty t-shirt, bloody knuckles, and 30 pounds of rope and gear in tow.) Climbing is done in the blissful shade of the tower itself; noontime demands a siesta, an edict enforced by fiat and radiation. The heat of the afternoon is spent chasing shade back at camp, staring up at the looming tower like a sacred temple, or a heavyhanded schoolmarm, depending on how successful your most recent siege of her walls.
... "what rhymes with 'snicker-snack'? oh, nevermind. 'Galumphing back.'" ...With one "L".
It has been pleasant, too, to toss away my stringent schedule, and wile away hot mornings, investing time in slow breakfasts, playing fetch, and beginning this travel blog log. Maybe I'll not rush away to Jackson, but take a pass, and wind leisurely toward Montana and Vancouver. . . well, tomorrow is about summiting the tower, not planning road routes.
Where I stayed
Devils Tower Lodge (camping at Frank's)