A climbing plan for Devils Tower

  • Devils Tower drawing

    Diane Sylvain

One hundred and one years ago, when William Rogers and Willard Ripley were the first climbers to top Wyoming's Devils Tower, they also started a controversy. In the following decades the tower became a climbing mecca. Yet to some Native Americans it has always been a sacred place. To try to satisfy both interests, the Park Service drafted a climbing management plan in cooperation with Native Americans, climbers, environmentalists and a local elected official. The agency's preferred alternative prohibits climbers from drilling new protective bolts into the cliffs, but allows replacement of old bolts. It also closes the tower to climbers on a voluntary basis in June, when Native Americans perform ceremonies. This suggestion has not pleased either side. Elaine Quiver, a member of the Gray Eagle Society, says tribal elders generally want a total ban on climbing, according to the Indian Country News. Carl Coy, member of the Gillette Climbing Club and the working group, says climbers won't be affected much by the closure, but they might not respect it either. Climbers and Native Americans each make up about 1 percent of the monument's 400,000 annual visitors. For a copy of Climbing Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, call 307/467-5283. Comments, due by Oct. 31, go to: P.O. Box 8, Devils Tower, WY 82714-0008.

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