Trad, 500 ft, 6 pitches, Grade II,
Avg: 3.4 from 506
FA: Jack Durrance
> Devils Tower
> Durrance Approach
June Voluntary Climbing Closure and Seasonal Raptor Closure
VOLUNTARY JUNE CLIMBING CLOSURE
The National Park Service asks that climbers choose not to climb the Tower during the month of June. The June voluntary climbing closure was selected as part of the Devils Tower Climbing Management Plan by a working group that included two climber organizations, two American Indian organizations, and other agency and local government representatives.
Climbers are strongly encouraged to consider enjoying the many other climbing options available in northeast Wyoming and the Black Hills area of South Dakota, during the month of June.
SEASONAL RAPTOR CLOSURE (Effective March 15)
A complete and regularly updated list of closed routes can be found on the park’s website. nps.gov/deto/planyourvisit/…
The Durrance route is listed as one of the 50 classic climbs in North America. A 4-6 pitch route that tops out at the summit. The climb is mainly off-width and hand-crack with a few spots of chimney. You also get the choice of working a small traverse. Don't forget to register at the Visitor's Center before and after the climb. This is a crowded route and a few minutes can mean the difference between success and failure. Either plan to arrive around 5:30 AM or, if your fast and have headlamps, try to start in the late afternoon.
Note: All directional references in this description are accurate if you are facing the rock.
Approach: You have two choices here. To walk to the base of the 1st pitch... hike up the trail from the Visitor's Center and head to the right at the Tower trail. Almost immediately head left on a faint trail that angles up toward the base of the tower. Continue up an easy ramp to the base of the leaning column and the start of the Durrance. To climb up to the base of the 1st pitch... Continue hiking on the concrete Tower trail to the South side of the tower. You will come to a clear path just past the leaning column as you look up. Take this path past the registration reminder sign for 5 minutes to the base of the tower and the 1st pitch of Wiessner's route. Climb this 5.4 crack to a couple of bolts about 100 feet off of the deck. Traverse left (if facing the wall) on easy 4th class to the base of the leaning column.
Pitch 1, Leaning Column (70 feet): Ascend 20 feet up a low angle crack that quickly turns vertical. Continue up another 25 feet of off-width to a horizontal crack with a piton. Enter the chimney behind the pillar and ascend another 25feet and exit onto the top of the column to a nice belay ledge with bolts.
Pitch 2, Durrance Crack (70 feet): A two crack system heads straight up for about 70 feet. The left crack is hand-width and accepts good pro for about 50 feet. The right crack is off-width and contains a large chockstone. Good pro can be found in the left hand crack until you get to the chockstone at about 55 feet. From the chockstone, depending on how tall you are, you must commit to the right crack and face the crux of the pitch. Save your #4 Camalot or equivalent to protect the crux. If you do not have anything this size, you will probably be climbing the last 15 or so feet of this crack high above your last piece. Exit to your right onto the belay ledge with bolts. 1 Piton available about 15 feet up.
Pitch 3, Cussin' Crack (30 feet): Climb a face and off-width combo to a small ledge 20 feet up. Protect this with a number #4 or #5 stopper or equivalent on the flake to the left of the crack. From the small ledge traverse right on a 1-foot ramp to an easy and well-protected hand crack. You also have the option of continuing straight up from the small ledge in an off-width... but the right side crack is far easier. Exit onto a nice belay ledge with bolts. Be sure to run some slings from your pro to reduce rope drag if you go to the right side crack.
Pitch 4, Flake Crack (40 feet): Ascend obvious crack system on right side of huge belay ledge. A number of flakes protruding from the crack (hence the name) and some face holds for the feet will make this quite enjoyable after the off-widths lower on the route. Exit via off-width (go figure) with bomber hands onto yet another great belay ledge with bolts. Watch for some loose rock on this pitch. 1 piton is available about 15 feet up.
Pitch 5, Chockstone Crack (40 feet): Head up into a large off-width or chimney, depending on how big you are. The first 20 feet are fairly basic. The top half of this pitch is a little harder and finishes with an overhanging boulder that you must clear to exit. It will get the blood flowing, but has some decent hands to keep it relatively tame. Exit to a large belay ledge. For the first time on the route... you may be able to find some shade in a large crack on your left. Belay your second from the bolts and prepare for the jump traverse. Note: you can look down and right to spot the bolts for the second rap that you may use for your descent, they are a little harder to spot when rappelling, as they will be below you after your first rap from the summit.
Pitch 6, Jump Traverse (15 foot traverse): From the belay ledge on top of Chockstone crack, down-climb 5 feet to a small ledge. Traverse under a small roof to a horizontal finger crack. Traverse finger crack and reach back for the ledge that marks the _landing zone_ for the _jump_. Very few, if any, people actually jump on this pitch and it is not recommended. Most use the piton just around the roof to hold onto and keep the rating 5.6. If you eschew the piton, you earn a 5.8 rating for this move and the climb. Continue through a small tunnel (a nice shady spot to rest if you need it) right of the jump traverse and across the meadows to the far right crack system and climb 100 or so feet to the top. Some rope up for this section and some parties don't. Enjoy the summit.
Pitch 6 Variation, Bailey's Direct (150 feet): From the top of Chockstone crack, ascend up a 5.4 crack (left of the bolts) that goes back and forth between hands and off-width. Exit onto the summit. This finish avoids the jump traverse and has the aesthetic appeal of climbing directly to the summit. Note that the right option includes more difficult off-width moves about 40 or 50 feet off the belay.
Rappel: From the summit head back towards the top of Bailey's direct and down-climb a few feet to a rappel station. Your first rap will put you back in the meadows near the jump traverse. Down-climb to your right to some bolts below and right of the jump traverse. Make three more raps down the Bowling Alley a few hundred feet right of the Durrance route and just right of Wiessner to the base and go get some water. All raps require 2 ropes. Be careful to always rap over the nose of each pillar and NOT in the crack or else your rope will be eaten and get stuck.
Be prepared to answer all manner of questions from tourists as you race for the water fountain.
Bring lots of water and conserve it.
A truly classic climb.
Standard Rack, #4 Camalot, 2 ropes, slings.
I did the jump and would highly recommend it to everyone doing the Durrance route. It was both the scariest and most awesome thing ever! If you haven't done the jump traverse, you haven't done the…
Unhappy partner after the 3rd pitch
Trying to figure out what this "trad climbing" is before attempting the second pitch
Hi-Res image of Durrance /w Bailey's Direct. Note rappellers on Meadows rappel. (There was a lot of lightning in the area)
Proud Paul (8), Kane (6) and dad at the summit, Bowling Alley, Durrance, and Bailey's Direct. (9/10/2015)
Climbers on the first 3 pitches of the Durrance (5/89). Photo by Paul Huebner
Topo of the Durrance and Bowling Alley rappels.
How wide can a 13-year-old smile? Climb Durrance to find out!
Climbed Durrance in June 1950 without hardware
"Softtail" stems up the Leaning Column