Devils Tower

Devils Tower Trip Report (#1589)

  • Signed By: Tom Gracen
  • Date submitted: November 01, 2002

Experience at Devil's Tower Lodge

August 13, 14, 15, and 16, 2002

Submitted by Tom and Deb Gracen, Yardley, PA

My wife Deb and I arrived at the Devil's Tower Lodge at about 7:30 PM on Tuesday, August 13th. We were welcomed by hosts Lorna and Frank Sanders. The mini-tour of the lodge reaches a climax you step out onto the back deck and take in the view. We were blown away by the view of "The Tower" lit by the setting sun. Awesome!

Since our plan was to climb "Durrance" the next day I asked Frank a few questions about the route. He answered my questions and we hurried off to prepare for our 4:30 AM wakeup time. Frank said breakfast would be ready. I had my doubts.

The next morning we were still tired from our day of travel from the East Coast but excited about our plans for the day. By 5:00 AM we were enjoying a wonderful breakfast that included banana pancakes, eggs, toast, coffee, fresh fruit, and the pleasant company of our hosts and soon to be new friends. At breakfast we met Walter; a 67-year-old retired service guy who was climbing Durrance that day with Frank.

We met up with our partner and were at the base of the climb by 6:45. Not far behind were Frank and Walter. In the middle of pitch 1 I was attempting a funky move as the crack widens into an off-width and chimney. I think Frank sensed my apprehension and said something like "Tom, you just made one of the hardest move on the climb, there are more like it, but you're on your way." Franks comment made me feel a whole lot better even though I knew the crux was pitch 2. Our partner Steve led that pitch.

As we proceeded through the climb we became more and more comfortable with Frank. He provided helpful information when it was wanted and great stories as he and members of our party shared belay ledges. We had great fun that day especially as we cheered Walter with his arrival on each belay ledge.

The following 2 days with Frank were filled with outstanding climbing and personal experiences. Frank encouraged and challenged us to climb to the best of our ability with safety always paramount. He provided many crack climbing tips and set up topropes on several different faces of the tower so we were able to practice and apply our developing skills. We gained valuable experience with climbing and belay technique, rope management skills, equipment suggestions and practice methods.

At the end of the day we were happy to be welcomed to a wonderful dinner at the lodge. Lorna's home cooked meals really hit the spot after a long day of climbing. The camaraderie and conversation at the dinner table matched the quality of the food. It was great to have an opportunity to review the day's events and clarify lessons learned. Frank was always eager to answer our questions and proved to be a repository of Devil's Tower climbing history.

Our trip to Devil's Tower is one that we will surely never forget. We hope to apply what we have learned in the years ahead and look forward to our next visit to Devil's Tower Lodge.

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