Type: Trad, 180 ft
FA: Casper College Climbing Club 1959
Page Views: 23,165 total · 124/month
Shared By: Just Another Anonymous User on Sep 27, 2003 with updates from brian n
Admins: Peter Gram, Mike Snyder, Jake Dickerson, Taylor Spiegelberg

You & This Route

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Access Issue: June Voluntary Climbing Closure and Seasonal Raptor Closure Details


The route is one of the best I have done anywhere. Immaculate rock and beautiful finger and hand jams will leave a smile on any crack climber's face. The finger crack crux comes early, but the real challenge is the sustained nature of the climb. It gets wider and easier as you go up, but there are few rests on this route, so I found the crux to definitely be avoiding getting pumped at the top of the route.

This route is immediately left of Hollywood and Vine, and four cracks to the right of the old stake ladder. The approach is a little tricky. Follow the Durrance approach to the start of the third-class ledges. I recommend racking up and leaving your packs there. Follow the approach to Soler to the outside corner of the third-class ledges (approximately the apex of the turn of the third class ledges). Do not climb all the way to the base of Soler. Instead, climb up exposed third and fourth class blocks to a series of ledges with trees. Follow these around right until you encounter a short fourth class ramp to a sheltered alcove at the base of the route. If the moves are Class 5, you're off route -- but many people will still want a belay for this fourth class approach.


Walt Bailey is long and sustained, so bring plenty of protection from small nuts and TCUs to about a #3 Camalot, with doubles (or even triples) of everything up to a #2 Camalot. The crack has many constrictions, so nuts and hexes work well. A 60 meter rope is highly recommended, as we didn't have much rope left at the top of the pitch. You might be able to stretch a 50 meter rope to the top, though this might require some simul-climbing. There's a good 2 bolt anchor at the top, but it is not set up for a rappel station.


The best 5.9 in the entire USA!Climb it to find out how hard 5.9 really is.In Yosemite or Colorado this would be rated 5.10a.Finger locking good! Sep 4, 2004
In eldorado canyon this climb would be rated 5.9 or under, ask Larry Dalke. I agree this is a must do, a great route and really fun. 5.9 is a fair grade for WB. Sep 4, 2004
Phenomenal. High quality fingers to hands. A plate under one of the anchor bolts says "crack eat e rope." This is a measure to keep parties from rapping from the top of the pitch although folks obviously do. Be careful when pulling your rope if you do rap from here. Jul 12, 2005
Tim McCabe
Tucson, AZ
Tim McCabe   Tucson, AZ
Before the bolts got put in there used to be two pins with rap rings but no one used them because the crack is a real rope eater. However once I got a pair of 180’ ropes not only was it easier to lead as one pitch you can also rap in one pitch. The key is to move way left or west as you rap and then walk farther west as you pull. The rope falls cross ways and stays out of the crack. I used this several times before the bolts went in but haven’t been there for years. It was a great way to avoid the crowds rapping right of Soler one long rap and you are on the ramp. Oct 15, 2006
Braxtron   ...
Sustained, but eases up a bit toward the top. 100% bomber pro and a phenomenal climb all around! Much better than the grunt fest that is the Durrance Route, in my opinion. Feb 5, 2007
Ken Leiden
Boulder, CO
Ken Leiden   Boulder, CO
As good as it gets at the Tower for any grade. Also, who would have thought that you could get to the top of Devils Tower in one 5th class pitch! Nov 1, 2007
Phil Persson
Denver, Colorado
Phil Persson   Denver, Colorado
Superb. Apr 20, 2010
Rob Hritz
Cockeysville, MD
Rob Hritz   Cockeysville, MD
Amazing, still dream about this great climb.

Rock is nice and sticky, just remember to stay plum lined. Apr 20, 2010
Ryan Strong
Golden, CO
Ryan Strong   Golden, CO
Probably the best 5.9 pitch i have ever climbed. Sep 30, 2011
Dani Goodson
Dani Goodson  
Seems like most people found it eased up near the top...for small hands the crack got rather wide and I found the top more difficult. Definitely a sustained and beautiful crack climb! Good protection if you bring enough gear. Probably my all-time favorite Tower climb. Mar 22, 2012
Lander, WY
peicker   Lander, WY
This might be the best 5.9 I have ever been on. Sep 16, 2014
Jack McNeil
Louisville, Co
Jack McNeil   Louisville, Co
best route on the SE face. Apr 5, 2016
Jim Schedin
Jim Schedin   MN
Wow, hard to believe I did this route back in 1995. I have smallish hands and recall that the route seemed more difficult near the top. My partners rated it a 5.10- at the time, but I still think that it is a very solid 5.9. Enjoyed the climb very, very much, and as others have said, it's hard to believe that you can summit the tower in one 5th class pitch! If it's your first time on the tower, I recommend this route over Durrance, as you might luck out and have it all to yourself in the early morning. Jul 28, 2016
B-Mkll Mackall
Bozeman, MT
B-Mkll Mackall   Bozeman, MT
My lord is the hanging belay for this one awful. Bolts are loose too, I tightened the lower one just a little. Almost ruins what is certainly one of the finest pitches of 5.9 (++) that I've ever done. Is there any way to make this better? Sep 19, 2016
Steve Pulver
Williston, ND
Steve Pulver   Williston, ND
I agree, improved bolt locations and maybe some chains would make belaying from the anchor more pleasant Sep 30, 2016
Guy H.
Fort Collins CO
Guy H.   Fort Collins CO
Right now, the best method to belay is off a #4 cam backed up with the bolts at your knees. Sep 30, 2016
Ian Brenn  
I suffered. I ached, I pained, I groaned and I moaned. If you have a weakness in crack climbing, Walt Bailey will find it. An amazing climb that I now recommend to any friend that ventures to the Tower of the Devil. Nov 12, 2016
As much as I wish the plate said "crack eat e rope" I believe it actually says ROPE EATER RAPPEL. Feb 23, 2017
Kim Moran
Salt Lake City, UT
Kim Moran   Salt Lake City, UT
Everyone is saying the top felt easier, but I felt oppositely. The first half of the pitch was my cake zone, and the second half was like vomiting lasagna. As time went on, we just didn't agree...

Classic 5.9 though! A pitch to remember for sure! Jun 26, 2017
I used a 70m rope (might have been possible w/ a 60m, but I can't be sure) and didn't even notice the bolts and skipped the hanging belay. I just built an anchor probably about 15--20ft above them, in a nice seated belay spot. So don't assume that the hanging belay is necessary for this one. May 31, 2018
Franck Vee
Franck Vee  
Woah, I haven't been on a lot of trad climbs, but that's possibly the best one I've done so far. My perspective/notes on the approach in case it helps others. I haven't done a whole lot of alpine-ish shenanigans.

To find the base: do as per description above, it's really helpful and works well. The only detail I would add is try to spot from below (e.g. from the tourist trail & the base of Durrance area) the huge block at the base of the climb. You will want to climb up (through some exposed 4th class, as per description) just on the right of that huge block. That approach is 4th class, perhaps a tad harder/more exposed than the ramp approach you'll start on - just find the path of less resistance going to the right of that huge block. I slung a chock stone & then put in a #4 for comfort just before pulling up into the belaying area. The belay area at the base is quite nice. If I were to do it again I would probably just solo it, but just by looking at it for me it was right on the border of "should I rope up or not". I'm glad we racked up earlier and didn't bring up all the packs, lunch etc.

As for the climb itself - IMO it is a little harder than Soler (and much more than El Cracko Diablo). First because it has wider variety (fingers, hand, cupped hands for me) of moves. Second because the crack is thinner for long sections and somewhat offset, making it harder to just jam a bomber foot in there and call it good. Unlike Soler, you may need to plan foot placements more as opposed to just jamming it wherever you'd like. There are sections where you kinda need a hand in the crack at all times - in my experience in Soler you could almost always find a stance to put pro in where you didn't really need to have a strong hand/finger placement in. I would still not describe it as pumpy - you can still rest at regular-ish intervales. However, there as continuous sustained sections and it starts to feel like overall body hard work after 50-60 feets (bear in mind you still have lots to go at that point...). Finding good jams (and finger locks early) requires some precision - if you're not on top of your game Walt Bailey will tell you.

The biggest challenge for me was gear management. I left with double-ish set of nuts and doubles from .3 to #2 and a dozen draws. I kinda wished I had brought more draws. I ended up clipping a few cams directly when the were not too prone to walking and spacing stuff out a bit more than I might have otherwise. I still had plenty of available placement (just no draws) higher up.

The first half or maybe close to 2/3 of the pitch was the hardest part for me. Higher up, face holds appear and even though the angle is steeper, I felt my foot placements were overall more secure and easier to find.

Rappel: the anchor up top isn't great for rappel (thinner bolts, not rap ones and kind of on top of one another). I can also see how ropes would get caught really easily. On the other hand, just scrambling (much, much easier scrambling than the ramp & the approach below) up and to the right until you hit the Exit Us (e.g. El Cracko anchors) is easy. Seems like the best option to me and that's what we did. Jul 24, 2018