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Devils Tower Conditions


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Joseph Pulley · · Greeley, CO · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 35

Hey all, does anyone know how the climbing conditions are at Devils Tower? I’d like to summit via Durrance before the June closure. Thanks.

Backwards Eric · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 632

I was there last weekend, conditions were great other than the rain in the morning. The rock dries off very quickly so even if it starts out rainy, you still have a lot of daylight hours to get through a route. Sunset these days is just after 8PM.

Backwards Eric · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 632

Also, be aware the west face is closed due to raptor nesting - won't affect you for Durrance, but if you change your planned route it is something to keep in mind.

Daniel James · · 2018/19: Bristol, England · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 949

Not a conditions comment, but as a general recommendation Durance is only the most summited route due to history and having the nominally lowest grade. For a better experience with longer, more continuous pitches of quality climbing, I'd recommend every other well regarded route over it, but to keep it close in grade, El Cracko Diablo (5.8) is great fun.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1

And also for clarification, there is no closure in June...

Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55

For clarification, the park service does not currently enforce a closure in June, but this and other access would probably change if everyone started ignoring it. Also it doesn't hurt to show respect for the native peoples who find the place sacred by not climbing on it during one month of the year, when from my understanding they would really prefer no one climbing it at all.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1
Greg Kosinski wrote: For clarification, the park service does not currently enforce a closure in June, but this and other access would probably change if everyone started ignoring it. Also it doesn't hurt to show respect for the native peoples who find the place sacred by not climbing on it during one month of the year, when from my understanding they would really prefer no one climbing it at all.

Depends on who you talk to. But yes, they don't like non-Indians climbing there, ever.  I treat their religion the same way I treat everybody else's religion, as their religion, not mine. 

Additionally, the whole entire Black Hills is sacred too. So if you don't want to climb in June, out of respect, don't climb in the entire state of SD either. I am guessing the more you look into the places we climb, the more you will discover that they are "sacred" to someone, and that they don't want you to climb it.

What is truly disrespectful is that they don't do a ban on visiting the Monument by anybody during June. Why single out one user group? Think about it...
Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55

While it is their religion and not mine or yours, I think we still have a duty to respect it. I havn't heard about the Black hills being sacred, I'll look into it and see what I find. But what I do know is that native peoples have been specific about Devils tower and their wish that there be space for them to use it in their ceremonies. The balance that has been reached seems to be a fair one. It respects their rights as ancestral people of this land (who had it stolen from them), and still allows people to use it as a world class climbing destination for most of the year. Given the fact that this used to be their homeland and it was stolen from them, I find it hard to make the argument that we don't have a responsibility to at least make some concessions for them. In other places like Monument valley in arizona the tribes actually have control over the land and it is closed to climbing, I think the tribes in the black hills area at least have some right to say how it is used even if they don't have legal ownership over it.

As for other places we climb being sacred to someone, if there was a known active user group that found the site sacred and did not want people climbing, I think the same thing would apply and I would reconsider climbing there.

And to your last point about singling out a single user group, the people hiking around the tower are interacting with it in a much different way than climbers on it. Looking from a distance from the base is also much less in the face of people who view it as a sacred site. I don't think this is singling out a single user group, its just that the only people who are using it in a way the native people would find more disrespectful are the people who are climbing it.

grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70
Greg Kosinski wrote: but this and other access would probably change if everyone started ignoring it. 

False. Climbing access on the tower can NEVER be shut down for religious reasons. 

grog m · · Saltlakecity · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70
Greg Kosinski wrote: 
As for other places we climb being sacred to someone, if there was a known active user group that found the site sacred and did not want people climbing, I think the same thing would apply and I would reconsider climbing there.

Do you know any Native Americans that have said this? Any proof? Anything? 

Or is this more virtue signalling of the highest order? I have said it before and I will say it again, the biggest threat to climbing access on Devil's Tower is white climbers. 
Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55
grog m wrote:

Do you know any Native Americans that have said this? Any proof? Anything? 

Or is this more virtue signalling of the highest order? I have said it before and I will say it again, the biggest threat to climbing access on Devil's Tower is white climbers. 

From the Devils Tower national park website "American Indians have regarded the Tower as a sacred site long before climbers found their way to the area. Tribes have expressed concerns about recreational climbing at Devils Tower. Some perceive climbing on the Tower as a desecration to their sacred site. It appears to many American Indians that climbers and hikers do not respect their culture by the very act of climbing on or near the Tower". 

So, it would appear to me the tribes have made this pretty clear, and have expressed this to the national park service.....
Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1

Every person on this earth had ancestors whose land was "stolen" from them. Currently the Uigers are having their land stolen from them by the Han Chinese. Tibetans had their land stolen from them. Aztecs, Incans, Mayans, etc...It happened in Europe too. Celts were pushed out in favor of the Romans.

It is inevitable. In the meantime lets go climbing. I'll climb in the most respectful way I can in June on the tower...

Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55
grog m wrote:

False. Climbing access on the tower can NEVER be shut down for religious reasons. 

https://www.nps.gov/deto/planyourvisit/upload/June-Voluntary-Climbing-Closure-Info_2016.pdf

On this page, at the bottom, it says one of the reasons that the closure is voluntary is  to "Promote and advance self-regulation by climbers rather than more restrictive options". I assume those more restrictive options would be more permanent closure
Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1
Greg Kosinski wrote:

https://www.nps.gov/deto/planyourvisit/upload/June-Voluntary-Climbing-Closure-Info_2016.pdf

On this page, at the bottom, it says one of the reasons that the closure is voluntary is  to "Promote and advance self-regulation by climbers rather than more restrictive options". I assume those more restrictive options would be more permanent closure

Good luck with a full closure to one specific user group for another user groups religious reasons....should never happen in America. 

My desire to climb in June on the tower is irrelevant.  I don't care how badly anybody was treated, their religious views cannot and should not infringe upon the rights of others on public land.

Why not allow huge crosses to be erected on public lands? Or the Ten Commandments to be put on public monuments?

You get my drift? by making concessions to one historically downtrodden group for their religious beliefs, you are weakening the fabric of our country, and Constitution. Don't be a freedom hater.
Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55
Buck Rio wrote: Every person on this earth had ancestors whose land was "stolen" from them. Currently the Uigers are having their land stolen from them by the Han Chinese. Tibetans had their land stolen from them. Aztecs, Incans, Mayans, etc...It happened in Europe too. Celts were pushed out in favor of the Romans.

It is inevitable. In the meantime lets go climbing. I'll climb in the most respectful way I can in June on the tower...

Just because it has happened doesn't mean its right, and the way the united states has fucked over native peoples is well documented and relatively recent in history. Is it really too much to ask you to take one month to go climb somewhere else? There are plenty of places that don't have this hanging over them. Regardless of any official closure, is it really too much to heed the wishes of the tribes for a single month out of the year to show respect?

Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55
Buck Rio wrote:

Good luck with a full closure to one specific user group for another user groups religious reasons....should never happen in America. 

My desire to climb in June on the tower is irrelevant.  I don't care how badly anybody was treated, their religious views cannot and should not infringe upon the rights of others on public land.

Why not allow huge crosses to be erected on public lands? Or the Ten Commandments to be put on public monuments?

You get my drift? by making concessions to one historically downtrodden group for their religious beliefs, you are weakening the fabric of our country, and Constitution. Don't be a freedom hater.

The crosses on public lands and ten commandments things are a separate issue, and no one is prevented on putting those on monuments, as long as they are not created or funded by the government (I sure see a lot of crosses off the side of the highway). I'm not trying to say that there should be an actual closure on the tower enforced by the park service, but why not show respect for the voluntary closure? I'm not 'hating on freedom', I just think that we should show respect as one user group to another, and recognise that while we both have a right to use the tower, our use is affected by each other. They have to make some concessions for climbers to use the site, and I don't think its unreasonable for us to take their wishes into account also.

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1
Greg Kosinski wrote:

The crosses on public lands and ten commandments things are a separate issue, and no one is prevented on putting those on monuments, as long as they are not created or funded by the government (I sure see a lot of crosses off the side of the highway). I'm not trying to say that there should be an actual closure on the tower enforced by the park service, but why not show respect for the voluntary closure? I'm not 'hating on freedom', I just think that we should show respect as one user group to another, and recognise that while we both have a right to use the tower, our use is affected by each other. They have to make some concessions for climbers to use the site, and I don't think its unreasonable for us to take their wishes into account also.

OK, to show respect, we should not climb the tower during the months of November through April, that beats a June ban by a whopping 5 months. That should satisfy everyone involved, shouldn't it? 

Plus, why are you forcing one religion down the throat of everyone? It is like telling me to voluntarily fast during Ramadan, out of respect for Muslims...it makes no sense.
Greg Kosinski · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined May 2015 · Points: 55
Buck Rio wrote:

OK, to show respect, we should not climb the tower during the months of November through April, that beats a June ban by a whopping 5 months. That should satisfy everyone involved, shouldn't it? 

Plus, why are you forcing one religion down the throat of everyone? It is like telling me to voluntarily fast during Ramadan, out of respect for Muslims...it makes no sense.

The native peoples would probably like a longer closure, but their most culturally significant time is in June, which is why the voluntary climbing ban is then. The closure in June is the consensus reached between user groups.

I'm not forcing anyone's religon down your throat. This is nothing like telling you not to fast during Ramadan. This is like telling you to not go eat your lunch right next to a person who is fasting during the month of Ramadan because you should respect their choice while being able to make your own. In both cases you can go climb or eat your food somewhere else, you have the right to eat your food right next to them if you want, and can still climb on the tower if you choose to. But it's a pretty small sacrifice for you to make to respect them and their beliefs, and I think it's kind of entitled to say that just because you have the right to do this thing, you won't choose not to as courtesy to them, especially when you could climb LITERALLY ANYWHERE ELSE.
Chris Kalman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 240
  • There IS a voluntary climbing closure during the month of June on Mato Tipila (aka Devils Tower), and has been since 1995.
  • The closure exists because there is thorough ethnographic research that links Mato Tipila to sacred and religious usage by Native American tribes for upwards of 10,000 years. The Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa, Crow, Shoshone, Arikara (among many others) all consider the area sacred.
  • The closure happens during June (the month of the summer solstice) because for many of the aforementioned tribes, that is a particularly sacred month, during which sweat lodges, The Sun Dance, and other ceremonies traditionally occur at Mato Tipila itself.
  • The case of land ownership of Mato Tipila is not analogous to other areas in the world that were lost in battle. Mato Tipila, and an enormous tract of the land surrounding it, was peacefully ceded to the Lakota Sioux in 1851 via the Treaty of Fort Laramie. It was only reclaimed by the United States government by later treaties (Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868... provisions of which were broken by the US govt after the fact anyway) which were not ratified by the proper Lakota authorities, and forced sales through the "Sell or Starve" act, 1877
  • The ban was made voluntary out of a sincere hope among all concerned parties (Lakota, and other tribes; NPS; Access Fund; Climbing guides) that this would lead to both greater understanding and compassion for the affected tribes and for their histories, and that climbers would seize the opportunity to prove themselves to be capable of self-regulation, in order to secure similar lenience in closures in other public lands.
  • According to the Final Climbing Management Plan (FCMP) which enacted the voluntary closure, “The voluntary closure will be fully successful when every climber personally chooses not to climb at Devils Tower during June out of respect for American Indian cultural values.”
  • In 1995, only 167 registered climbers were tallied—an 86.4 percent reduction from the year before. The plan’s initial success was short-lived. One of the key elements of the 1995 FCMP was that the June shutdown would be mandatory for commercial rock climbing guides. But in November 1996, the Mountain States Legal Foundation helped several climbing guides file a lawsuit against the superintendent of Devils Tower National Monument, the National Park Service, and then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, claiming that the ban was implemented for religious reasons, and hence violated the first amendment. Before the court was able to come to a conclusion, the Park Service preemptively revised the FCMP to make the June closure voluntary for all users, including guide services. The courts ultimately upheld the FCMP, but by that time it was a moot point. One year later, the Park Service conducted an ethnographic study that recommended that climbing on the Tower should be prohibited altogether; but no change to the FCMP was made.
    Over the next decade, the number of June climbers on the monument oscillated between the high-200s and mid-300s. By 2013, that number ballooned to 434. This year, there were 279. It’s clear that 23 years after the FCMP’s implementation, the monument is still far from achieving the voluntary ban’s initial goal.
This is information I gleaned through a deep dive into the voluntary ban while researching an article I wrote for Outside Magazine. The latter two bullet points are direct quotes from that article.

We all begin at a place of ignorance. Nobody can be held morally responsible for that, But when you willfully maintain ignorance in the light of reason, or factual information, that is morally reprehensible.

The information is out there, and it is not difficult to find. I have succinctly presented quite a bit of it here.

Please take the time to educate yourself before you decide to climb the tower in June.
Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1
Chris Kalman wrote:
  • There IS a voluntary climbing closure during the month of June on Mato Tipila (aka Devils Tower), and has been since 1995.
  • The closure exists because there is thorough ethnographic research that links Mato Tipila to sacred and religious usage by Native American tribes for upwards of 10,000 years. The Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Kiowa, Crow, Shoshone, Arikara (among many others) all consider the area sacred.
  • The closure happens during June (the month of the summer solstice) because for many of the aforementioned tribes, that is a particularly sacred month, during which sweat lodges, The Sun Dance, and other ceremonies traditionally occur at Mato Tipila itself.
  • The case of land ownership of Mato Tipila is not analogous to other areas in the world that were lost in battle. Mato Tipila, and an enormous tract of the land surrounding it, was peacefully ceded to the Lakota Sioux in 1851 via the Treaty of Fort Laramie. It was only reclaimed by the United States government by later treaties (Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868... provisions of which were broken by the US govt after the fact anyway) which were not ratified by the proper Lakota authorities, and forced sales through the "Sell or Starve" act, 1877
  • The ban was made voluntary out of a sincere hope among all concerned parties (Lakota, and other tribes; NPS; Access Fund; Climbing guides) that this would lead to both greater understanding and compassion for the affected tribes and for their histories, and that climbers would seize the opportunity to prove themselves to be capable of self-regulation, in order to secure similar lenience in closures in other public lands.
  • According to the Final Climbing Management Plan (FCMP) which enacted the voluntary closure, “The voluntary closure will be fully successful when every climber personally chooses not to climb at Devils Tower during June out of respect for American Indian cultural values.”
  • In 1995, only 167 registered climbers were tallied—an 86.4 percent reduction from the year before. The plan’s initial success was short-lived. One of the key elements of the 1995 FCMP was that the June shutdown would be mandatory for commercial rock climbing guides. But in November 1996, the Mountain States Legal Foundation helped several climbing guides file a lawsuit against the superintendent of Devils Tower National Monument, the National Park Service, and then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, claiming that the ban was implemented for religious reasons, and hence violated the first amendment. Before the court was able to come to a conclusion, the Park Service preemptively revised the FCMP to make the June closure voluntary for all users, including guide services. The courts ultimately upheld the FCMP, but by that time it was a moot point. One year later, the Park Service conducted an ethnographic study that recommended that climbing on the Tower should be prohibited altogether; but no change to the FCMP was made.
    Over the next decade, the number of June climbers on the monument oscillated between the high-200s and mid-300s. By 2013, that number ballooned to 434. This year, there were 279. It’s clear that 23 years after the FCMP’s implementation, the monument is still far from achieving the voluntary ban’s initial goal.
This is information I gleaned through a deep dive into the voluntary ban while researching an article I wrote for Outside Magazine. The latter two bullet points are direct quotes from that article.

We all begin at a place of ignorance. Nobody can be held morally responsible for that, But when you willfully maintain ignorance in the light of reason, or factual information, that is morally reprehensible.

The information is out there, and it is not difficult to find. I have succinctly presented quite a bit of it here.

Please take the time to educate yourself before you go climb the tower in June. 

I actually only commented here because of your article and how I disagreed with the very premise. Moot point, climbing is legal and will be until the foundation this country were built on crumble.

I didn't spend the best years of my life defending this country so I can have another persons religion imposed on me.

Indians can practice their religion literally anywhere. We are tied to the rock.
Holden Caulfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2007 · Points: 0
This post violated Guideline #1 and has been removed.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Wyoming, Montana, Dakotas
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