Marmot PROs and climbers Jorg Verhoeven (NL) and Katha Saurwein (AT) have recently fulfilled one of their dreams and climbed the iconic Devils Tower in Wyoming/USA. Read Katha’s fascinating report about their ascent:
As you’re driving through the wide plains of Wyoming (USA), Devils Tower is visible from afar. With its perfect geometric columns and a flat top, the size of half a soccer field, it catches your sight, and you won’t be able to stop looking at it.
Ever since I’ve seen photos of Devils Tower the idea of climbing it would never leave my mind. This year, ahead of the bouldering Worldcup in Vail, Jorg and I finally decided to pay the Tower a visit, and to scout some of America’s finest crack climbs.
Standing underneath the Tower blows your mind. Splitter cracks every 5 meters; the pillars start as slabs and become gradually steeper and steeper. The Tower is climbable from all sides, with most routes leading to the summit in around 4 pitches. Rule of thumb: 5.8/5.9 routes are wide cracks, 5.10 hand cracks, 5.11 finger cracks and 5.12 or harder are dihedrals or faces.
Jorg and I were both aching to see how the top would look like, so we chose a classic 5.10 and raced to the top. A splendid 360° panorama awaited us. Sometimes you can even see and stand on the hexagonal shape of the volcanic pillars, which the Tower consists of. Enjoying the view, we couldn’t but wonder how the little chipmunk that was guarding the summit cairn got up there…
One classic route that stands out is the famous ‘El Matador’ (5.10+). Its second pitch offers a unique 40 meter stembox, that leaves you with a smile and a grin, but most of all with burning calves. Stemming and jamming our way up (with my size more jamming than stemming), I felt that this is what we had come here for, the reason I could never forget those photos of Devils Tower. A truly magical place.
P.S.: Devils Tower is known by Native Americans as Bear Lodge Butte, and is regarded a sacred place. A voluntary climbing ban on the entire tower is effective throughout the month of June, and climbers are asked to respect this ban.
Photo: (c) Jon Glassberg