“IT WAS EVENING in northeastern Wyoming, a Monday in early May at Devils Tower National Monument, and I was 500 feet in the air. My hands were jammed in a crack, feet seeking grip on a wall that dropped straight away to talus and dirt far below. . .
Thus begins my story in today’s New York Times, “The Eerie Splendor of Devils Tower,” where I chronicle my ascent of the 1,000-foot-high monolith earlier this spring.
See an audio slideshow on the ascent here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/07/11/travel/escapes/DEVILS-Escapes/index.html
The Tower, a geologic wonder, is a formation of igneous intrusion, lava burped up from underground eons ago, with time and wind and water then washing away layer upon layer to unveil what is one of nature’s ultimate works of art.
President Theodore Roosevelt, in 1906, designated the tower a national monument, the nation’s first, saving the big stone with pine forests at its base from commercial interests.
Today, about 3,000 people climb the Tower a year via 200+ routes.
I went up this time—my tenth time climbing the Tower overall—with a guide, Frank Sanders of Devils Tower Lodge. Our trip to the top in May — a four-hour climb on a route called El Cracko Diablo — started in the parking lot, where summit seekers register with the National Park Service before heading up.
We had hats and rain jackets stuffed in backpacks for warmth after dark. Headlamps would illuminate the rock during our descent, in which we’d rappel four rope-lengths to the ground, though not before watching a sunset on top of the world.
Read on for the full story, “The Eerie Splendor of Devils Tower”
Or, see my trip report with several photos and a map of the route here. . .