Devils Tower Trip Report (#1514)
- Signed By: Celina Tio and Ken Buch
- Date submitted: June 07, 2004
Ken and I summited the Tower for the first time on May 31st with the help (lots of it!) of John Walker. We drove from Kansas City as a surprise for Ken's 40th birthday. We hit Mount Rushmore first (South Dakota is the 40th state of our union) then traveled on to Devils Tower. We stayed at the Devils Tower Lodge with Frank, Miss Kate and Jaap. We arranged to do a guided summit with John Walker. We headed out around 7:45 am and started the approach to the Durrance (of course). Due to the holiday weekend, there were quite a few climbers. A party of 6 was in line for the route so we decided to "keep moving."
We moved over a few routes to the Pseudo Weissner. The first pitch was a little tough for me. We have never done a multi-pitch route, haven't climbed many cracks and I hadn't climbed in 8-9 months. With that said, I did fairly well with the exception of banging up my knees topping out after each pitch.
I thought I was going to be a little concerned about the exposure, but I felt incredibley safe with John, his climbing ability and knowledge. There was never a time I was afraid, even on the rap down (I hear that's what gets some people).
We summited around 2:30 pm. It was very windy and looked like there some nasty weather heading for us, but the storms kept going right around us. It was an incredible sight. I wish we had the opportunity to spend a little bit more time at the summit to really contemplate what we had just accomplished, but I will just have to rely on the memories of the climb.
We headed down to our first rap. We did the first and second one quickly and efficiently. We then had to wait to do the next one, again, due to traffic. We waited about 15 minutes or so, but George, also staying at the Lodge, left his cell phone somewhere between the summit and his 2nd rap. After a lot of debate back and forth or shall I say up and down 100 feet or so, he decided to climb back to get it (some people will do anything to get a taste of the tower twice : )
We were originally going to do 4 raps, but only ended up doing 3. George, Jerry, Jason, Ashley, Larry and C.D. were still hanging out after their second to get the cell phone back. John just kept rapping right past them. When I was looking down, I thought I knew where John stopped, but I saw our ropes go right pass Jerry and his group. I then saw the top of John's helmet a ways past them. We went as far as his rope could take us, and then some. Whew, that was a long rap, but fun.
We got back to the parking lot around 4:15 pm. As a thanks to John, I cooked a Maine lobster dinner with masshed potatoes, asparagus and hen of the wood mushrooms. It was quite tasty with the Devils Tower brew from the trading post down the way.
The only thing that surpassed us summiting the Tower was the pleasure of meeting Frank, John, Miss Kate, Jaap and everyone else that stayed at The Lodge that weekend. It was the most pleasant surprise of any trip I have taken and I plan to make it, at the very least, an annual trip, if not more frequently.
I also have a new found respect for Formula One racing. I had the opportunity to watch it with Frank and Jaap. Who knew there was a "strategy" to that race? If anyone ever asks me what pit stop strategy Schumacher used in the race in Germany, I can say with confidence, "three."
If you are wondering why you had to endure this long story, it so I could (hopefully) relay the experience I had while there. This was not just some climbing/camping trip. This was a time I will always remember and hope that it will inspire someone else to try it.
Frank's place and the Tower are a package deal. I woldn't do it any other way! See everone in September!