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[TR] Devil's Tower, the Winds, Darrington n' etc - 7/17/2016

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Trip: Devil's Tower, the Winds, Darrington n' etc -


Date: 7/17/2016


Trip Report:

the earth spun round the fiery orb once more, me spending it flittering n' wasting n' laying low n' steadily graying n' avoiding the heat of cc.com tr glory - musta done something worth word-smithing over during all that time, but been content to commit it all to the mind-palace n' no place else - gotta reckon i'm just getting ready to lay easy in my grave - we all rot alone...


promising start to a pleasing summer - the kids n' the wife n' heading south - oregon sand dunes, hill clambering w/ my boy wulf after the lesser elements in the family wussed out - redwoods, sure big trees, but so? - a new take on yosemite, family camping at wawona n' glacier point - my big brother and a niece i'd never met in tow - good times around the fire, sure wish i could make this sorta shit happen more often - san francisco - lounging round the pool n' partaking in the life of a new-age patrician


then it was a sacramento airport n' setting'em all on a plane n' heading north, trailing smoke n' 28 hrs of "the conquering tide" - time parted like water as the sun went west and i made my many weary miles back north


a quick pitstop for a good burgundy drunk - an empty house like an echoing tomb, save the whir of fans


mike and i'd hatched a plan for a summer of new-shit - reckon it'd been too many summers in a row of big-walling like a fucking fuck-faced whale in the valley, it was time for a change - so we figured we'd head east to the wind river range, land of of fables n' fucking fred beckey n' jim bridger-sized heroes


camas at dawn, me scooping up our boy n' balefuls of bullshit n' roaring off toward the bitter badlands, soaring past a million mcdonalds n' truckstops n' tawdry landmarks of the honkus americanus on the Long Road towards wyoming


troubled developed along the way, none of it necessary if for fuck-sake's everyone would just throw away their gawddamn smart-phones - mike's ma recently diagnosed w/ that saddest of sad ailments that besets the elderly, yet somehow she'd launched on a solo road-trip of her own out to boulder, colorado, without anyone in the family saying shit - by the time we were within eye-shot of the wind's, mike n' his sister had a roiling conversation going across the continent about how they were going to find the wayward mater familias, who was fuck-knows-where near salt lake city


18 hours later we managed to get the nsa to track down her coordinates and we rolled into her hotel room at 2 a.m. in a most surreal of situations - i set to the serious business of getting to sleep and letting slip the tenuous bonds of the Stranger's responsibility


the next morning i woke alone in mournful malodorous n' moldy room n' amidst a smoky-haze of wildfires set off after mike n' his ma in the Ghost towards boulder, still binging n' gourging on the "conquering tide"


she delivered safe, we got some good times at the flat-irons, which i'd always wanted to roam through - we figured on making a big bite into the drive to devil's tower, so settled for just soloing a big long slab-route on the 2nd iron - we managed to get down just before a big ole thunder storm rolled through




rolling north towards devil's tower through the roaring clouds n' downpours we pierced wyoming's border, only to discover those dear bitches done divorced the vending of beer from that of goddamn gas - non-plussed, we wound up on the side of a road in what appeared to be godless badlands but the morning revealed to be a vast fracking-field, well-heads as regular as wet-panties at a prince concert...


woke early, wet w/ dew, to the roar of trucks rattlign by w/ billions of gallons of frack-fluid, n' set on our way, intent to get up and down the durrance route before another afternoon storm washed us away


devil's tower loomed up in the early-morning glow - the beacon-boy in me broke big - so fun to compare n' contrast the two big fuckers - beacon crowded in by the gorge, devil's all alone - beacon basalt, devil's a golden granite - beacon all finger cracks, devil's a treasure-trove of gritty off-widths - both have the same shitty toilet-paper - both the same rangers, just devil's w/ them able to send you to gitmo if you get too outta hand


the durrance route just left of center in the shade




the route from the rather beautifully fully-paved trail, which is fucking handicap accessible, should you be so encumbered - also comes well covered in fluttering native memorabilia in the trees, like buddhist prayer-flags




it was scorching hawt, but what can you do when it sits southwards and the afternoons awful likely to light you up? shit, if nothing else, we had the joint to ourselves, which, based on the internet-pix, appears to be a pleasingly rare situation


me on the approach pitch - offwidth, like everything else - 5.4 i think? certainly the only 5.4 i can remember pulling on gear on :)




not too many pix after - my performance on the durrance crack proper went mercifully unrecorded, yet i managed to thrutch-fuck meself up it on lead, the final off-width in particular bewildering me something fierce for the better part of five minutes :)


mike got the cussin' crack, which aint' a crack at'tal, but instead a shortish n' wicked scary offwidth, w/ really no gawdman pro at all for the whole 40 feet of it...


our boy was ready to quit at this point, but heat-stroke as i was, i wanted this one finished - i suck at enough other things in my life, dig? fortunately my next pitch was more mellow, and mike came back to life and climbed the final real pitch, a not-so scary chimney


me enjoying the view halfway




after hiding out in the shade behind a pillar for a spell we wandering out into the meadows and found the freaky fun 4th class pitch to the summit


summit pano




the summit was a sunbaked desert, devoid of truly spectacular views, so w/ diminishing water n' a wall of angry-gray water heading our way from the west w/ a fucking fierce intensity, we began the bail, which went smoothly - hit the parking lot just in time for the skies to cry w/ a wicked fury


boozed it up n' had some supper not too far off, then returned to hyper-space n' rolled through the badlands w/ the disaffected air of autistic savants - made it to some godforsaken town w/ a weirdly river-boat themed cinder-block motel, watched some 80 year version of "hamlet" n' nattered n' eventually headed off to sleep w/ a freshly showered nutsack


the next day we rattled off the next 5 some goddamn hours necessary to get us back to where we'd started in the winds




the bugs were beyond control at the big sandy trailhead, regardless of wind or driving storm - i slumbered in the Ghost as the half-day tempest raged past - we finally emerged for some dinner n' a half-assed fire n' fucked-off to sleep


next morning we shouldered six-tons of whiskey n' climbing gear n' shit n' rambled on to the cirque of the towers




warbonnet n' wilson way up ahead




the cirque coming into view, several skeetery n' sweaty hours later




a storm broke on us as we hit the pass above the lake, so we said fuck'it to settling down lower in the cirque n' found a fine home for a few days under several huge boulders just below warbonnet - i put on my skeeter-proof setup n' set to pounding down the paltry liter of burgundy i'd brought along, savoring the views




lovely views that evening, pingora, our main target, to the right - we had high hopes on the wolf's head just by it too, but fate would fucking see to it :)




great beer n' a great location




we got up good n' early that first day in the cirque, afeared of weather n' looking like wusses - high altitude for sure, both of us found ourselves short of breathe after little more than suiting up n' strapping on our shoes :)


wandering off towards pingora




the evening before it'd seemed mighty odd our beta hadn't given us beta to get us all the way up the rock, yet once we got near it made a mort more sense, it mostly just being walking n' easy scrambling to get up to the top of the south shoulder


snacking n' taking in the soon to come climb




loved it - 3 pitches of easy moderate climbing - shit, gotta get more peaks where you can get this kinda adventure for 3000 feet more


by the time we hit the summit, though it wasn't even noon, the lightining was flying and i was sure we were gonna get kilt


mike's uncle, who'd taught him to climb, had just died, so our boy brought a pic of him up and stashed him in the hills he loved...




summit pano




the wicked classic ridge of wolf's head, sure wish we'd had time for it...




from that afternoon on it was storms aplenty - we huddled under our sweet boulder bivy n' binged n' purged




not a bad place to shelter a storm




having lost a day, and not feeling up to taking on the classic routes on either pingora or wolf's head, we headed to the east cracks of pingora




took some heartache at first to figure out where the fuck to make our entry, but soon enough we finagled the right thing n' fumbled up the snow to start out - hard to hate on this kinda climbing - mostly clean cracks soaring up easyish slabs - here and there it got stupid, but i'm stupid in spades, so it weren't enough to stultify me :)




there was hemming n' hawing to be certain, and the weather also threatened, but then we were on top and heading back down again




mike celebrated w/ a shower




that night saw the last of the whiskey n' the tobacco n' the food, so we settled on shuffling off the next morning - poured right aroudn the time we wanted to leave, but we tholed it boulder-side n' waited, finally casting off and rattling back the long length soon enough, we getting separated on the hateful level hard-reach of 6 miles to the trailhead, me getting more n' more heel-sore along the way


bantered w/ hillbillies while waiting for mike to arrive, then we heaved off down the long gravel road to get to beer n' burgers




took a long time to bend all that space back - music - beer - the rush of air - some bantering w/ a biker in a cool park pull-off in evening


once back it was listlessness made human - lounging around n' drinking n' doubting my own existence


geoff n' time-traveling'steve thankfully pulled me away and we had a day of sauntering around smith - an evening of rain n' retread conversation n' civilian-inspired bullshit - geoff heckled in the morning for illegal camping - we tried for the santiam highway ledges but our rope-gun got glum on what looked like a godawful gritty lead so we settled for birds in a rut instead - had a gutful of burgers in the terrebonne depot soon thereafter and sizzled off west towards the setting sun


then it was just a few days before the fam was back and what was there to do? geoff said let's go to darrington goddammit, so me n' him n' his brudder kyle headed out


oso, the scene of what awful-earth can contemplate, taking in geologic time




exfoliation dome - the so-called "granite sidewalk" right of center - much more like a "granite log-flume" but whatever...




jesus-fuck, what a walk up - thought i'd throw in the towel 10 minutes after we starting up the serious - were this yosemite, the whole fucking thing would be fixed high up into the sky :)




very fun climbing, much more so than i thought of dreamer on my first visit - slab for sure, but plenty of cracks n' corners


klye on the money pitch




yeah, boi.




looking down p3, the mighty granite log-flume in full majesty




geoff after pulling the overhang on p3




geoff on the excellent p4




our boy coming up p5




looking back up the internimable slabs on the way down




me n' geoff looking none-so-sure - turned out it was hella easier to walk down these fucking slabs than up - just hope to fucking hell you don't get rained on while you're up there :)




an evening of raging camp fires n' good humor ensued, though i was soon out of both beer n' butts, bitter-dumb-bastard that i am - the next morning some old boys wandering by our camp, baloney-dome bound, including the irascible mark hanna, who seemed happy to make our acquaintance - must be nice to live just a hop, skip n' a jump from such a granite play-ground :)


a storm-impurned morn that one was, but we sweated up to 3 black-cock rock n' had just enough time to do one route before we had to bound back down




the drive back too hateful to contemplate - flat tires - fucking traffic - fading glory - fuck, we're all goners when it comes to it...

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Thanks for writing it up Ivan. Enjoyed the read and pics. And totally related to the bugs. On a trip in to do Gannett about this time of year couple years ago the skeeters swarming the trail all the way in and out of there. Fucking miserable it was...


But the winds are worth it. Really big and beautiful country.



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Thanks for the reminder that I need to get out of the state and see more of what this great country offers!

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Thanks for the entertaining writeup. Seems like you guys have a great attitude for just getting out and experiencing things.


Interesting names for some of these places... I also get freaked out on that granite 'sidewalk' at Darrington. Each time is "the last time"...



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There is a ripple in the universe when no trip report from ivan for a while.


I can't believe you drove by Boulder heading for the Tower. A lifetime of climbing passed by for a tower in the middle of nowhere like it was an apparition of some sci fi movie. Now the Winds I understand.


And dood, the Tower "golden granite"??? Egads the Yosemite and Wind River rock gods are turning over in their graves. It's phonolite porphyry, ends up in columns kind of like basalt does.


Glad no live animals were hurt on the trip, just a few tobacco plants and grape vines doing their duty.


Always more entertaining than seeing what the Kardashians did today. And I learn a few new words with every TR!

Edited by matt_warfield

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being near boulder in the first place was a curve ball i hadn't even contemplated, so hadn't done my homework - it was also hot as hell and thunder-stormy - our plan had been true-true wilderness, and the jaunt up to devil's tower seemed a minor inconvenience after all that easting...at any rate, i wasn't near thin enough or pretty enough to hang out near all them boulder college kids :)


all i know about geology i learned from watching "the rock of ages" and flipping through beckey sermons at high speed in search of info on obvious couloirs - sure reminded me of touloumne granite though.... :)

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I don't recall having expectations about what awaited at the top of Devil's Tower, but an acre of prairie was definitely a surprise.


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summit is definitely lacking something - perhaps a water fountain or a zip line? :)

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