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Stranded Climbers Rescued

Devils Tower National Monument

National Park News

On the evening of July 3rd, chief ranger Drew Gilmour received a call from the Crook County Sheriff’s Office advising that two climbers were reportedly stuck high on the side of Devils Tower. The visiting climbers had summited around 6:30 p.m. via the Belle Fourche Buttress area on the east side. While attempting to rappel down the same route, they found that they were unable to reach the ledge at the top of the next rappel. One climber was lowered to the ledge and the other rappelled down to make an intermediate anchor, but found that they were unable to pull the ropes to retrieve them. The two climbers did not have headlamps and were still stuck on the tower when darkness fell. Worried friends of the climbers came out to find them and called for a rescue. Protection and climbing rangers reached the base of the route to find friends of the climbers heading up a route leading to the first stranded climber. Climbing rangers Will Buckman and Sean Nelb ascended this party’s fixed lines to reach the ledge. They then climbed the remaining distance to reach the ends of the higher climber’s ropes, built a temporary anchor, and fixed a rappel to the ledge below.  All parties then rappelled to the base of Devils Tower, leaving the stuck ropes and anchor hardware for later retrieval during daylight hours. Rescue personnel and climbers reached the parking lot safely at 3 a.m. Gilmour was IC for this incident.


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