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Closure of Some Devils Tower Rock Climbs

The popular Wyoming butte has hundreds of amazing crack climbs, but some will be closed while birds are nesting

Devils Tower is one of America’s most popular multi-pitch trad climbing destinations. World-class cracks that rise between vertical columns of basalt have attracted rock climbers for decades.

The Devils Tower National Monument has said in a press release that some climbs are temporarily closed to protect nesting Peregrine and Prairie Falcons. This includes all of the routes on the east and northeast faces. “The closure is implemented annually to provide the falcons with an undisturbed nesting location during this critical courtship and nest-selection period,” the press release said.

“The presence of climbers near falcon nests can be distressing to parent birds and disturbance from climbing activities may force falcons to abandon eggs or chicks. The closure is also implemented to protect climbers, as falcons are known to defensively dive in order to protect their nests. Climbers are asked to report any defensive falcon behavior to park staff.” The climbing routes affected by the closure are between Cave and McCarthy’s Brother, and also the north face approach and rappels. Over 100 climbing routes remain open for climbing.

“Affected climbing routes and approaches will remain closed until the young falcons fledge and are no longer dependent on the nest location or if the nesting falcons move to another location,” the press release said. “Park staff monitor falcon activity and the closure area may be moved, extended, or rescinded depending on the nesting and fledgling activity. The closure of these routes to protect the falcons is strictly enforced. Climbers play a critical role in the success of falcon nesting at Devils Tower.”

Below is footage from 1992 of Catherine Destivelle, one of the greatest alpinists of her generation, soloing the classic El Matador 5.10d on Devils Tower. She begins by rope soloing and plugging cams, but then later unties and free solos the rest of the way.