A labor of love – My labor day climbing road trip! Part 0: A summary


Saturday, 04-Sept-2021, through Saturday, 11-Sept-2021

I love road trips. I’ve learned that, speaking to various therapists and councilors in the last year or so, long drives are a major form of meditation for me. I have something to keep me focused, and I’m accomplishing a goal, but I can let my semi-conscious mind wander and reflect on what’s been happening in my life.

I try to do this at home, of course, but… I always get too stressed out, feeling like I should be doing something instead of just sitting back and letting my brain process all the various thoughts and possibilities that are constantly screaming around in my skull.

For my birthday, I’d originally planned to climb at Index with Daniel. When that fell through, I’d sketched out a road trip down highway 101 into California with my friend Laurel. That fell through too. Finally, I gave up and decided to do something on my own – something I’d always wanted to do, but had never quite been able to make happen.

An ascent of Devil’s Tower...

The plan was simple: Drive to South Dakota over two days, climb for two days, take a rest day, then summit Devil’s tower. Then, drive back home over another two days.

Making it happen… was a little bit less simple, you might understandably guess.

There were reservations to make, maps to print out, a packing list to make, and groceries to shop for. Gear to organize, consumables to tally up…

But that’s the fun of a roadtrip, right? Heck yeah!

So let’s get down to it. What WAS the overarching plan? Well, I’m glad you asked:

  • Leave Saturday morning, 04-Sept
  • Drive to Montana, and stay at a hostel in Missoula
  • Drive to South Dakota, and stay at a campground near Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Climb for two days in Custer State Park with Sylvan Rocks climbing guides
  • Have a rest day, maybe explore Mt. Rushmore & the rest of Custer State Park, and stay in a teepee at the base of Devil’s Tower
  • Climb Devils Tower on 09-Sept, ideally via the Durrance Route
  • Drive back to Missoula on 10-Sept, and stay at the same hostel
  • Drive home from Montana, arriving home on 11-Sept, with one full day to unpack and decompress

And how did that plan go, you may further ask?

Read on and see! But as a spoiler: it went gloriously!

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