Between the Devil and the Sky,Climbing Devils Tower for 45 Years

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For rock climber Frank Sanders, the captivating power of Devils Tower was instant and life-long. This iconic butte in Wyoming, which you may recognize from the classic 1977 sci-fi film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” was America’s first national monument.

image credit: mistymountain

Since his first ascent, Sanders has climbed Devils Tower thousands of times, and even moved into a lodge at its base. There, he shares its magic with visitors year-round, and the climb never gets old.

Frank has summited the Tower more than 2,000 times since. In a little more than a year, from 2007 to 2008, he topped out 365 times, missing only five days because he threw out his back. His personal record is 16 summits in one day—15 of those free solo, for no particular reason.

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Devils Tower, America’s first national monument, is a geologic wonder with its own special mystique. I had climbed only a couple of routes at the tower before I realized that no place else I’d ever climbed made me feel like less of a climber.

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