Mato Tipila (aka Devil’s Tower)


DT arrival

Anne and I know that some things, but not all things, go according to plan. As we set out on this journey to Alaska, our first hope was to conquer Mato Tipila, which means “Bear Lodge.”  Most people know it as Devils Tower. “Devils Tower” is a name the white man gave this rock formation. It was thus named in 1875 when a misinterpretation from Colonel Richard Irving Dodge’s expedition somehow translated the native name as “Bad God’s Tower.”

Here’s a link about that story:

Fortunately for us, we have a coworker, Chris, who is a very experienced climber with lots of gear, and he and his equally-skilled friend enthusiastically agreed to go to Devils Tower with us and guide us to the top.

En route, we realized Duane, our dog, would need a place to stay while we climbed. We tried several kennels in the area, but none were willing to take him with one of his vaccines only a day out. That’s when we discovered  It’s like an AirBnB for dogs.  We were very reluctant to leave Duane with strangers at first, but Anna and Naveen in Gillette, WY reassured us that Duane was in good hands. They even sent photos of Duane out on hikes.  We recommend the Rover app to anyone traveling with their dog.

DT campsite

On to the climb…. As excited as Anne and I were to get on top of the tower, it was not meant to be this go-around. We started out bright and early.  We counted our gear, checked and double checked each other, and then we set out to the tower.  The closer we got, the bigger the tower got… it is an intimidating yet inspiring feat.  The first pitch was unlike anything we had trained on in the gym, but we made it up.  The second pitch was something different altogether.

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The hardest climbing we had ever experienced.  As Anne ascended the second pitch, some 200 feet up, a park ranger called out to our friend, Chris, alerting him that his dog, Leeloo, had escaped from her tent and was on the loose.  We were instructed to descend and retrieve Leeloo.  Due to daylight limitations, once we got back down, we could not reattempt the climb that day. Unfortunately, the weather the next day was not climber-friendly, and it was time for us to continue our journey to Alaska.  As disappointed as Anne and I were, it gave us a new goal: to come back to the tower one day when we can do it without guides, all on our own.

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