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An eighteen hour drive (Montana sure is wide) made easier by a few audio books. We had this Devils Tower trip planned a few times before including this past 4th Of July weekend. Plans somehow kept on evaporating for one reason or another and we realized that it’s been a decade since the last and only time we had visited as climbers. Between that last trip to the Tower and my visit there as a child with my parents in the late 80s, I had nothing but fond memories of the place. We reserved a KOA cabin mainly so that Blondie could accompany us – she’d sit out the two mornings (no dogs allowed on monument land) well cooled by two industrial-sized fans we brought along while we went climbing and we’d all spend afternoons together. This worked well but only 50% of the time. After enjoying the famous El Matador
route (5.10+, 6 pitches) on day 1, cold and rainy morning greeted us on day 2. Reassured by NOAA’s dark outlook, we packed up and drove home.
Highly approve of Wyoming’s 80 mph speed limits and low state trooper density… Oregon should take notes.
You miss out on some good (and some not so good) climbing if you rap off after the money pitch of El Matador.
Khaled Hosseini’s novels make long stretches of driving less painful.
Rapping El Matador from the summit is straightforward (if there’s no other party coming up): 2X single, 3X double.
Devils Tower KOA campground does not suck.
A quick break somewhere in central Montana (Aug. 2014).
Devils Tower – a great basaltic middle finger raised up towards the forces of erosion (or is it in fact saluting the Midwest?).
First view of Devils Tower (east face) from the KOA campground in the morning (Aug. 2014).
Shirley on the short hike to the base of the west face of Devils Tower (Aug. 2014).
The west face of Devils Tower. El Matador (5.10+) is visible (esp. the famous pitch 2) just right of center of the photo (Aug. 2014).
Shirley starting the up the first pitch of El Matador. The famous stem box is visible just above saying “good morning” (Aug. 2014).
More pitch 1 (very fun!) action.
The tower casting its shadow down onto the visitors’ center (Aug. 2014).
Shirley on the finger crack finish of pitch 1 of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
Into the meat of El Matador – wait…
This pitch just keeps on giving…
Shirley trying out the full on stem low on the money pitch of El Matador (the thing gets marginally narrower about 20+ feet above the belay).
The gently rolling terrain of northeastern Wyoming as seen from top of pitch 2 of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
Shirley stemming to glory on pitch 2.
Finally the crack opens up near the top to allow straight in jamming for those who choose to (Aug. 2014).
Views west from near the top of El Matador. Visitors center is the parking lot below (Aug. 2014).
Shirley atop pitch 2 of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
Starting up the fun (short) pitch 3 of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
Fun climbing on this (short) pitch.
Shirley on the third pitch of El Matador (a nice 5.8 hand crack).
Pitch 4 with a bit of sewing action through the touch of choss (Aug. 2014).
Shirley topping out on our 4th pitch of El Matador. I thought this section in the photo was the crux of the pitch actually (Aug. 2014).
Shirley on the pitch 5 chimney of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
More pitch 5 chossiness (Aug. 2014).
5.7 finishing choss on the final (our 6th) pitch of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
Shirley arriving on the summit plateau of Devils Tower (our pitch 6 of El Matador).
Views from the summit. There were rainclouds building in the near distance and dropping a bit of rain on us…so tagged the edge of the summit plateau and started rapping back down the route (Aug. 2014).
Shirley starting down El Matador. If there are no other parties below, this is a good descent actually. Here’s the beta: single, single (not bypassing any bolted stations), double to top of P2, double to top of P1, double (?) to ground (Aug. 2014).
Shirley on the final rap (Aug. 2014).
The west face of Devils Tower. El Matador route lies between the obvious shadowy dihedral on the right and the columns with the first mid height set of roofs (Aug. 2014).
A celebratory cold one after our climb of El Matador (Aug. 2014).
Blondie helping out with racking up for day 2…should’ve saved ourselves the trouble and had more beer as we’d wake up to rain the next day (Aug. 2014).
I guess Blondie approves of the place as well (Aug. 2014).
The girls at the KOA campground. I like the place – not very crowded and they keep the tent, RV and cabin sites well separated.
A Devils Tower area resident (prairie dog).
The west/northwest aspect of Devils Tower (Aug. 2014).
A big prairie dog.
God – it begs to be climbed!
Northeastern Wyoming – cowboy country. “Pass me that bottle of coconut-ginger kombucha, baby.”
A bit of honesty in eastern Montana (Sept. 2014).
Little Bighorn in Montana. Apparently some patriotic Americans repelled a gang of marauding immigrants here back in the day…I dunno (Sept. 2014).
A quick pit stop on the looong drive home (Sept. 2014).
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