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Unsorted Routes:

Walt Bailey 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 180'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Casper College Climbing Club 1959
Page Views: 20,006
Submitted By: Just Another Anonymous User on Sep 28, 2003  with updates from brian n

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (161)
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Jenny Antin fighting the pump for a clean follow o...

June Voluntary Climbing Closure and Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


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.

Photos of Walt Bailey Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Walt Bailey covers all sizes!  SO GOOD.  Here's Je...
Walt Bailey covers all sizes! SO GOOD. Here's Je...
Rock Climbing Photo: GREAT CRACK pitch!
Rock Climbing Photo: As long as it looks
As long as it looks
Rock Climbing Photo: Scott F. filming me on Bailey.
Scott F. filming me on Bailey.
Rock Climbing Photo: This is one long pitch, but it does ease up near t...
This is one long pitch, but it does ease up near t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt near the top of the pitch.
Matt near the top of the pitch.

Comments on Walt Bailey Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 26, 2017
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 4, 2004

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!
By john walker
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.
By bw1
Jul 12, 2005
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

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.
By Tim McCabe
Oct 15, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

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.
By Braxtron
From: ...
Feb 5, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

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.
By Ken Leiden
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 1, 2007

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!
By Phil Persson
From: Denver, Colorado
Apr 20, 2010

By Rob Hritz
From: Cockeysville, MD
Apr 20, 2010

Amazing, still dream about this great climb.

Rock is nice and sticky, just remember to stay plum lined.
By Ryan Strong
From: Golden, CO
Sep 30, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Probably the best 5.9 pitch i have ever climbed.
By Dani Goodson
Mar 22, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

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.
By peicker
From: Lander, WY
Sep 16, 2014

This might be the best 5.9 I have ever been on.
By Jack McNeil
From: Louisville, Co
Apr 5, 2016
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

best route on the SE face.
By Jim Schedin
From: MN
Jul 28, 2016

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.
By B-Mkll Mackall
From: Bozeman, MT
Sep 19, 2016
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

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?
By Steve Pulver
From: Williston, ND
Sep 30, 2016

I agree, improved bolt locations and maybe some chains would make belaying from the anchor more pleasant
By Guy H.
From: Fort Collins CO
Sep 30, 2016
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Right now, the best method to belay is off a #4 cam backed up with the bolts at your knees.
By Ian Brenn
Nov 12, 2016

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.
By Eric Fjellanger
Feb 23, 2017

As much as I wish the plate said "crack eat e rope" I believe it actually says ROPE EATER RAPPEL.
By Kim Moran
From: Bozeman, MT
Jun 26, 2017

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!

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