Grade II - III
First Ascent: Jack Durrance & Harrison Butterworth
For first time Tower climbers, bring a single set of cams from .3" – 4" with doubles in #1 - #3 Camalot. Single set of stoppers and alpine draws. 2 ropes. Optional #5 & #6 Camalot.
The Durrance is the most popular route on the Tower and is usually done in 6-7 pitches with the Bowling Alley start and the Bailey Direct Finish. This was the second technical route up Devils Tower and stands as a North American classic. All belays are 2 bolt anchors.
Pitch 1: The Bowling Alley
Hike the Tower Trail until you reach the viewing tubes for the Historic Steak Ladder. From here you walk up the climber's trail to the base of the Tower. Start up the obvious straight up-and-down crack for 40 meters to reach a 2 bolt belay.
40 meters 5.4
Pitch 2. The Leaning Column
From the bolts on the top of P1 climb over to the pine tree and up the steepening hand crack to the top of the leaning column. Be careful as the Leaning Column does move when persuaded to. It is recommended to place gear in the cracks instead of clipping the pitons in the column.
30 meters 5.6
Pitch 3. The Durrance Crack
Head up the ski-track cracks to the top of the column. This crack is the feature pitch on the route and can take lots of gear. The top of the pitch is wide and will take a #5 Camalot for those less versed in wide crack. This pitch is a little polished on the left side and will feel harder than 5.7 if you are less experienced in crack climbing. At this point you are slightly over half way up the Tower.
25 meters. 5.7
Pitch 4. Cussin' Crack + Flake Crack
Start off in the squeeze chimney/offwidth to reach a ledge. Walk climbers right on the ledge to reach a friendlier crack and to reach a set of anchors. This pitch is easily combined with the next pitch Flake Crack. Linking the two pitches makes for a 30+ meter pitch.
The gear at the start of Cussin' Crack can feel lacking for inexperienced leaders.
33 meters. 5.6
Pitch 5. Chalkstone Chimney
Climb up the chimney to the chalkstone that guards the top of the pitch. Find your way around it to a comfortable ledge.
10 meters. 5.6
Pitch 6. The Baily Direct Finish
From the anchors on top of Chalkstone Chimney, take the crack/chimney system to the left. Follow this corner to the "Micky Mouse Skybox" ledge where you can build an optional anchor to break the pitch up into 2. This allows you to keep visual contact with your partner. From the ledge continue up the corner to reach a 2 bolt anchor. Scramble up and left to the Summit and bask in your glory!
40 meters 5.6
Pitch 6. Jump Traverse and Meadows Finish Option
From the anchors at the top of Chalkstone Chimney the original Durrance route took the Jump Traverse to the Standard Meadows finish. For this option climb slightly down off the belay to the right. Around the corner you will find a piton. Clip the pin and say your prayers. Jump to the next column top! You can also climb through the traverse statically at 5.10 range or have your belayer take up rope and pendulum over to the next column top. However you decide to get past the traverse find a piece of gear to put in as soon as you can to protect your follower during their turn on the traverse. Walk over into the Cave and make a belay. Follow the obvious trails through the meadows to their opposite end. Climb down and to climbers right to find the path of least resistance and the Meadows Finish. It is recommended to remained roped in during the Meadows finish as a fall would be devastating.