Type: Trad, Sport, 300 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Dingus McGee?
Page Views: 282 total · 2/month
Shared By: Joe Collins on Sep 10, 2004
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


In the Poorperson's guide, this climb is given the coveted 'E' rating for the highest quality climbs on the Tower. In other words, 5 stars on a 5 star scale. I only climbed the first pitch, but that was all I needed to see.

Begin on the NE face around to the left from the staging area for New Wave and Broken Tree. Look for a line of modern bolts just left of a mossy trough. The 1st pitch follows the bolts to a belay stance below a small roof. Though rated 5.9, it climbs much harder since nearly all of the holds on this pitch seem on the verge of breaking. Without a doubt the worst pitch I've yet to climb at the Tower. Even my second took a pass on this one. A good exercise in climbing lightly on loose stuff, I guess.

From the belay, the 2nd pitch looks like a short dihedral affair to the top of a pillar. Rock quality looks sub-par to say the least. The 2nd pitch can be easily linked with the first if you are so inclined to proceed.

What attracted me to this climb was the 3rd pitch. "A must for aspiring Tower stemmers," the guide says. Well, if that involves stemming through bushes, then no thanks. Lots of vegetation from top to bottom, with a particularly menacing looking bush at two-thirds height. If you go up there, definitely look out for that one.

I post the route here only to warn others about the quality discrepancy. I don't think anyone has been up there for many, many years. I don't know, maybe with regular traffic this would be the classic that the guide claims it to be.

Which brings me to the question, are there any climbs worth doing on this section of the Tower? Everything in this area looked like it had been reclaimed by crack flora.


QDs for the first pitch. A garden trowel and machette for the third pitch.


I climbed this route in 1991.It was great. A must do. One of the best stemming routes of its grade on the Tower. The problem with routes on Devils Tower is if they don't see a lot of traffic then they get dirty again as many routes were major scrubfests for the first ascent party. Your comments are quite condeming considering you did not climb the whole route. Please consider doing your part and cleaning up these climbs as you encounter them. We are all stewards of the crags we climb on. Maybe consider renewing your climbing gym membership if you wish to climb in a clean environment. Sep 13, 2004
Joe Collins
Joe Collins  
I stand by my comments, Coward. The route as it currently stands is a pile, and for you to give it 3 stars based on a 1991 ascent soon after the FA (which I've since learned was in 1990), shows you to have no credibility whatsoever. As of this past weekend, the stemming pitch is in a condition that can only be described, in an understated fashion, as munge.

Whether it is my job, or not, as a visiting climber to clean obscure routes is beside the point. IMHO, the route is not worth the effort in its current state, and giving it anything but a bomb rating is a disservice to people who use this database.

Nice jab with the "gym membership" thing, BTW. Very clever... did it take you long to think that one up? Sep 14, 2004
Lets see, good crack routes on the Tower?? There are many, if you want harder cracks you can drive to Veedawoo. It seems like the classic routes are the ones that dont need cleaning, nor do they have bushes growing from them. If you want a nice bush route you can send the 3rd ascent of toddomoss. It's important for all climbers to know and follow the rules while in the parks. There are rules governing accepted legal behavior and what is not accepted or illegal.Mexico is the only place I know of where you can ignore the rules, or make your own. But if you piss someone off you may have frontier justice to deal with.

Good cracks at the tower? Keep trying, after soaring they can only get better. I hadn't heard of soaring until it was posted here. Try McCarthys North Face, Carols Crack, Mr. Clean for quality 11a.Pax, j Sep 16, 2004
Todd Felix
Todd Felix  
OK, so we climbed this in 2010 and we really liked this PITCH. Pitch 3, that is, according to the write-up here. Pretty well bolted all the way up (9 bolts in 95 feet; you could bring a few smaller cams to supplement).

I thought this was a 1 pitch route (which starts 200+ feet off the ground), and that the other 2 pitches listed here as P1 & P2 were a different route called Strongback; just one way of several to get to Soaring. Regardless, there ARE other ways to get to the 5.11 stemming pitch.

Which is good because I do agree that the first 5.9 bolted pitch Joe lists at P1 is indeed the worst pitch on Devils Tower! Every hold seemed about to send me flying...and at least one of the bolts was placed in a questionable block. Horrible! [The hornet attack didn't help either, but that happens]. And the second pitch looked and felt uninspiring as I got into it, so I traversed right over to Ants on Angel Food. This is 5.11d, but it's well-enough bolted at the 11d section that it can be aided if your goal is to climb 11a (some mid-sized cams were helpful above the bolts though).

I will also agree that the 5.11 stemming pitch was kinda dirty, licheny, and crumbly. The crumbly patina in several places made it feel kinda scary...but our shoes cleaned a lot of that off.

I too wondered about the high star ratings in both books that I consulted, as well as the quote "A must for aspiring tower stemmers." It obviously doesn't get climbed often. I think it has the capacity to be a classic, if it got climbed more (and was thus cleaner/less crumbly/less licheny) and if there was a better way to get to it.

But as of 2010 there weren't any bushes or vegetation in the corner, and I certainly wouldn't call it a bomb (but I WOULD call Strongback P1 a bomb). Great pitch, just not classic. My 3 star rating is for this pitch, but find a different way to get to it.

I think an approach from climber's right might be better: Ants on Angel Food: 10b, then 11d (or 5.10 A0); or Ants on Angel food (10b) to Natural Perversity (11a). That's what I plan to do next time...we'll see. Aug 28, 2012
Lucas Barth
Yosemite, CA
Lucas Barth   Yosemite, CA
I talked with a climber who tried to approach this route from the 1st pitch of Ants on Angel Food, but he was deterred by at least 2 hangerless bolts on the first pitch. I'm not sure what type of bolts they were, some sort of star drivin nail with expansion sleeve. From the pic he showed me it didn't look like a modern hanger would even work on it. Sep 11, 2017