Do you feel lucky, punk?
I’m waiting for Clint Eastwood to magically appear from behind one of the old “wild-west-style” houses in the small town of Hulett. It seems like time has stopped here. Funny enough my card gets declined as I try to pay for a well deserved sixpack of Fat Tire. I have to rely on good ol’ paper money.
Rather than joining CU Alpine club to go sport climbing, Molly and I decided to go out alone and pay a visit to Devils Tower. It was something I had in the back of my mind for quite a while, and well… it seemed cool to go somewhere just the two of us!
As the guidebook warned us about tons of climbers on the Uberclassic ‘Durrance’ we decided to leave Thursday night, so we had a calm friday ahead of us. And it worked out perfectly!
We only met one rope-team after I linked the third, fourth, and fifth pitch (they were all easy and short). To give them some time we decided to chill a bit mid-route, and enjoy the amazing view. A somewhat longer pitch took us to the top of Devils, where we enjoyed the great outdoors in the only righteous way: naked!
A nice campfire with some beers made the day complete. What a great place to be!
The next day we decided to turn the volume up a notch, and take up the quarrel with ‘El matador’. A notorious route, with a – quote the guidebook – ‘mega long stem’ pitch. The short first pitch takes you up into the corner where literally the first thing going through your mind is “What the F? … How?”.
After some jamming and looking for footholds here and there I managed to stem my feet on both sides of the vertical corridor.
I cried like a baby. Squealed like a pig. Growled like a bear.
And then my right foot slipped off…
Whoosh! Down I went softly caught by Mr.0.75 and a considerable amount of slack that appeared to be out. The Matador had tamed me.
With no honor left I jammed the rest of the pitch up, only stemming when absolutely necessary. I felt like a hundred year old man arriving at the belay, but I was happy to have climbed the damn thing!
Apparently it was quite the ordeal to clean the gear, as it took Molly almost the same time to climb the pitch. I didn’t mind at all! Resting my arms and legs, and taking pictures was all I really cared about.
Another dinner by campfire-light made the weekend complete.
Despite the rather awkward encounter with a ranger the next morning – a story that does not need further notice – we drove home with such satisfaction that we even made a small detour to enjoy on of the countries “most valued” landmarks! Check it out!
(ps: Mt. Rushmore has an amazing forest full of really cool climbing in the neighborhood! I’d rather have you check out that instead!)