The Devil's Tower Climbing History


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Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Feb 24, 2016 - 12:15pm PT
Frank was up there this last weekend with a party of three.he was the youngest @ 64, 194 years up the tower.

Social climber
Gillette, Wyoming
Mar 28, 2017 - 09:28am PT
Matt and Jaymi and I went up Durrance this Saturday in perfect weather, but ended up rappelling in the dark and getting a rope stuck. Mat and his 10 year old daughter Avery and I retrieved it yesterday. It's all Jaybro's fault that at 66 I can still lead Durrance ;-}

Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 28, 2017 - 02:46pm PT
Me trying to remember how to find the raps after a 20 year absence. I was told my guide book shoud be in a museaum and not stuffed in a climbing pack

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 28, 2017 - 03:50pm PT

And, sorry Charlie..

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Mar 28, 2017 - 04:11pm PT
nice thread bump Chazbro!

tradmanclimbs, "I was told my guide book shoud be in a museaum and not stuffed in a climbing pack"

Isn't that red one the current one? ;)


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 28, 2017 - 04:15pm PT
Don't know what the current one is?? but folks seemed to be impressed with mine from 1986.
Andy Fielding

Trad climber
Apr 1, 2017 - 10:07am PT
brian n

Sport climber
Manchester, WA
Sep 7, 2017 - 11:16pm PT
When I was eight years old, the first picture below was burned into my memory. The picture is from page 209 of Reader's Digest “Scenic Wonders of America” published in 1973. So, I really wanted to know what route was depicted when I visited Devils Tower during the summer of 2016. I asked at the Devils Tower Lodge and after much consideration, no one there knew.
Note: All photographs in this post are used under the protection of U.S Copyright Act, section 107, i.e. “fair use”

Frank Sanders did tell me it shows 1956 at the 50th anniversary of Devils Tower National Monument and depicted military climbers. (photo is colorized) That eventually led me to discover the Life magazine article and the names of the climbers (more on that later).
So I started researching in earnest.
Step 1: Reviewed drone video to determine the probable location of photo by comparing background features. I figured out that the picture was taken across the Northeast section. The angle and direction of the road in the boxed area of the next photo matches the first picture shown again beside it.

Step 2: Get a guide book and compare the only remarkable feature. This took some time, but I found a feature match.

That page didn’t identify the route. On another page I was able to match a different feature, a large roof structure. In the 2 pictures below, one can see that the route in question is to the right of that roof and is Surfer Girl (indicated as D on page 148).

Further substantiation is in the next picture.

Back to the LIFE magazine article. I found this in the LIFE collection hosted by Getty Images. The photo was taken by Carl Iwasaki as were other pictures with the article. A cropped version of this accompanied the August 1956 magazine article in LIFE. The caption indicates a FA by Cecil Ouellette and Charles R Kness. I don’t know what else they climbed that week, but this day and this climb is Surfer Girl.

None of the guidebooks I’ve seen indicate a definitive FA for Surfer Girl, but I would say this research proves it. The FFA is listed as Todd Skinner and Beth Wald.


M&CWTC #1 Devils Delight
M&CWTC #3 Surfer Girl

Anybody game for #4 or #5 ?

This research has been sent to Devils Tower Lodge and forwarded to the climbing rangers at the Tower.


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Sep 8, 2017 - 03:10am PT

Isa following Soler last summer

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 8, 2017 - 04:07pm PT
Another Deto milestone. Daphne tops out, for the first time, via Assembly line on 8/28/17 and is welcomed by over thirty vultures!!


Grizzlyville, WY
Sep 15, 2017 - 08:47am PT
Strong work Brian! Great sleuthing.

Yay Daphne!

And congrats to Rob Kelman, for pushing the "oldest" record.
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