Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Devils Tower: Triumphant Birthday

I slept soundlessly with only enough conciousness to be awoken by the downpour that ravaged my tent. The blew hard and shook the tent and somehow I put aside any concern and fell back to sleep. When the morning light came to the gray sky it was still raining and dreary. I fumbled over to the car put my contacts in and gaining vision again decided to drive. My friend and I left on a small excursion into civilization, namely to Spearfish, SD a half-hour's drive away.

Some where along the drive it became more and more clear that this day was somehow important or special. Then it came to me... ah, yes... today was my birthday. Seeing as it was raining, we went to the library to check the internet. After discovering that the only place to go to get out of the rain in the country was in the desert of southern Utah and Nevada, we decided we go get pizza to celebrate another year of aging on my part and attempt to suffocate our rain filled misery with greasy food. Somehow it worked, because when we emerged from the restaurant the sky was clearing and the rain had stopped.

We hurriedly raced back to Devils Tower and rounded up our climbing gear. We hiked up to the tower and decided upon a route entitled "El Cracko Diablo". It was solid crack in a left facing dihedral that led up to a small roof and continued towards to top of the tower. The first pitch went easily with solid hand and foot jams creating an cautious optimism. The next pitch rated 5.8+ went equally well as the first, jams where solid... I felt good enough to hum a little tune to myself as I went. When I reached the roof, I looked at the crack and its sustained width and realized I would need my #2 and #3 sized cams back to finish out the pitch. So I set up a trad anchor and belayed my friend up to my position bringing my needed camalots from my placements below.

the route (left center, left facing dihedral)

From the roof I could see end of the pitch was near and my excitement grew. I continued upward past the roof and each move brought a bigger grin to my face. I finally pulled my way onto the final ledge threw my hands into the air let a joyful whoop. I quickly set up an anchor and belayed my friend up to my position. We continued upward a very easy scramble for 200 ft when the terrain began to level out. The route we had climbed was in the shade of the tower and

atop the tower, looking down

on the opposite side as the sun. As I crested the slope of the top, my first sight of the summit was blinded by the sunlight of the setting afternoon sun that had nearly reached the horizon. I walked through the ankle deep grass to the aged wooden stake that marked the summit and smiled broadly. The wind swept over the green flowing plains of Wyoming on my birthday and I sat contently with a broad smile, 876 feet in the sky.

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