Devil’s Tower, a stunning rock formation in Wyoming, has long been a mecca for rock climbers from around the world. The tower, which rises 867 feet above the surrounding landscape, is a challenging climb that has attracted some of the most legendary climbers in history. Over the years, Devil’s Tower has become a symbol of the American West, and its climbing legends have become an important part of the tower’s lore.
One of the most famous climbing legends associated with Devil’s Tower is the story of the first ascent. In 1893, two local ranchers, Willard Ripley and William Rogers, climbed the tower using a crude wooden ladder they had constructed themselves. The climb was a remarkable feat of courage and ingenuity, and it set the stage for generations of climbers to follow. Today, the first ascent is remembered as a seminal moment in the history of American climbing, and climbers from around the world come to Devil’s Tower to test their skills on its steep, challenging walls.
Another important part of the Devil’s Tower climbing legend is the story of the first technical climb. In 1937, Fritz Wiessner and Lawrence Coveney climbed the tower using advanced techniques that had never been used before. The climb was a groundbreaking achievement that pushed the limits of what was possible in climbing, and it helped to establish Devil’s Tower as one of the most important climbing destinations in the world. Today, the tower remains a popular destination for climbers of all skill levels, and its legends continue to inspire new generations of climbers to push the boundaries of what is possible on the rock.
Devil’s Tower is a geological wonder that has long been revered by Native American tribes in the region. The tower has played a significant role in the culture and traditions of many tribes, including the Crow, Lakota, Cheyenne, and Kiowa. For these tribes, the tower is a sacred site that has been used for various spiritual and cultural practices for centuries.
Native American Legends
According to Native American legends, Devil’s Tower was created when a group of girls were being chased by a giant bear. They climbed onto a rock and prayed to the Great Spirit to save them. The rock then rose up into the sky, taking the girls with it, and the bear clawed at the sides of the rock, creating the deep cracks that are visible on the tower today.
Another legend tells of two young boys who were out playing when they were attacked by a giant bear. They climbed onto a rock and prayed for help, and the rock rose up into the sky, taking the boys with it. The boys were transformed into the constellation known as the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, and the rock became Devil’s Tower.
Devil’s Tower has also played a significant role in the history of climbing. In 1937, Jack Durrance and Fritz Wiessner made the first technical climb of the tower, using equipment such as pitons and ropes. This climb marked a milestone in the history of climbing and helped to establish Devil’s Tower as a premier climbing destination.
In 1941, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially changed the name of the tower from Bear Lodge to Devil’s Tower. This change was controversial, as many Native American tribes objected to the new name, which they saw as disrespectful to their traditions and beliefs.
Today, Devil’s Tower remains a popular destination for climbers, hikers, and tourists from around the world. While the tower’s historical significance cannot be denied, it is also a testament to the enduring spirit of adventure and exploration that has inspired humans for centuries.
Devils Tower is a butte that rises 867 feet above the Belle Fourche River in northeastern Wyoming. It is a unique geological feature that has attracted climbers and hikers from all over the world. The tower is composed of phonolite porphyry, a type of igneous rock that is rich in feldspar and has a distinctive pinkish-gray color.
Formation and Composition
Devils Tower was formed millions of years ago when molten rock, or magma, intruded into the surrounding sedimentary rocks. Over time, the magma cooled and solidified into phonolite porphyry, which is much harder and more resistant to erosion than the surrounding rocks. As the softer rocks eroded away, the tower was exposed and began to take shape.
Unique Rock Structure
One of the most distinctive features of Devils Tower is its hexagonal columns, which were formed as the rock cooled and contracted. These columns are up to 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide, and they create a striking pattern that is both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
The tower is located in the Black Hills region, which is known for its unique geology and rich history. The Belle Fourche River, which flows at the base of the tower, is a popular spot for fishing and other outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the tower and its surrounding area on foot, and there are several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the tower and the surrounding landscape.
Overall, Devils Tower is a remarkable geological feature that has captured the imagination of people for centuries. Its unique rock structure, rich history, and stunning beauty make it one of the most popular climbing destinations in the world.
Routes and Challenges
Devil’s Tower is known for its challenging climbing routes that attract climbers from all over the world. One of the most popular routes is the Durrance Route, which offers a mix of crack climbs and face climbing. The route is rated at 5.7 and is considered a classic climb. Another popular route is the El Matador, which is a free climb rated at 5.10a. Climbers looking for a more challenging climb can try the Bailey Direct, a technical climb rated at 5.11.
Climbing Ethics and Regulations
Climbing at Devil’s Tower is regulated by the Climbing Management Plan, which aims to preserve the natural and cultural resources of the monument. Climbers are required to register at the park office before climbing and follow all safety regulations. The Access Fund is a non-profit organization that works to protect climbing areas and promote responsible climbing practices. They support the Climbing Management Plan and encourage climbers to respect the ban on climbing during the month of June, which is considered a sacred time for the Native American tribes that consider the Tower a sacred site.
Camping is available at the park, and climbers are encouraged to practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize their impact on the environment. Sport climbing is not allowed at Devil’s Tower, and all climbing must be done using traditional equipment. Climbers are also required to use fixed anchors only when necessary and remove them when they are no longer needed.
Overall, climbing at Devil’s Tower offers a unique and challenging experience for climbers of all skill levels. By following the regulations and practicing responsible climbing ethics, climbers can help preserve the natural and cultural resources of the monument for future generations to enjoy.
Cultural and Spiritual Connections
Devil’s Tower has always been a sacred site for Native American tribes, particularly the Lakota, Kiowa, and other Plains tribes. The tower is considered to be a place of worship and ritual, and it is an important part of their oral histories.
Tribal Ceremonies and Beliefs
According to the Lakota tribe, the tower is known as Mato Tipila, which means “Bear Lodge.” They believe that the tower was created when a group of young girls were chased by a bear and climbed to the top of a rock. The bear clawed at the rock, leaving deep grooves as it tried to climb up after them. Eventually, the rock rose up to form the tower, and the girls were saved.
The Kiowa tribe has a similar legend, in which seven sisters are pursued by a giant bear. They climb a tree, and the tree grows taller to protect them. Eventually, the tree becomes the tower, and the sisters are saved.
Both tribes consider the tower to be a place of great spiritual power, and they perform ceremonies and rituals there. They also believe that the tower is a gateway to the spirit world, and that it is inhabited by spirits and supernatural beings.
Modern Cultural Impact
The cultural significance of Devil’s Tower has also had an impact on modern culture. The tower was featured prominently in the 1977 movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” in which aliens communicate with humans through musical tones played on the tower.
The tower has also become a popular destination for rock climbers, but climbing is not allowed during the month of June out of respect for the tribes’ spiritual ceremonies. Climbing activist groups like Access Fund support the ban and request that climbers honor it.
Overall, Devil’s Tower remains an important cultural and spiritual site for Native American tribes, and its significance continues to be felt in modern culture.
Last Updated on December 27, 2023 by Cool Rad Weird