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When we were six, crossing the monkey bars without falling was an accomplishment. But, one young girl’s 867-foot climb far exceeds our playground accomplishments.
As you’ll soon see, Alice Galy proves that kids can do remarkable things. She strapped on her climbing gear and achieved an incredible goal.
Today, we’re sharing her adventure in becoming the youngest person to ascend Devils Tower. Let’s get started!
Meet the Youngest Female to Ascend Devils Tower
Valier Galy and Stephanie Jenouvrier set off on an RVing adventure with their children, 6-year-old Alice and 9-year-old Tristan. They planned to travel across the United States and explore parts of Canada. Part of their route took them through Wyoming, where they visited Devils Tower National Monument.
The kids have been rock climbing since age two, so they’re no strangers to the sport. Both were excited and nervous about the potential of climbing to the top of Devils Tower.
Before starting the adventure, 6-year-old Alice did a handstand on the ground and promised to do the same from the top. And that’s what she did.
Once arriving at the summit of Devils Tower, adrenaline took over, and Alice did a perfect handstand for the camera. She and her family signed the logbook before repelling down to the ground.
The official Devils Tower National Monument Facebook page even joined in on the fun of celebrating the family’s accomplishment.
While there are rumors of a five-year-old female making the ascent, there is no official record of the climb. So, as it stands, Alice Galy is the youngest female to climb the monument. How long will she retain the title? We’ll have to wait and see.
About Devils Tower
Devils Tower, often called Bear Lodge Butte, is an impressive geological formation in northeast Wyoming. Many agree that this unique structure formed millions of years ago.
However, there are numerous theories and debates about how exactly it formed. Unfortunately, erosion has erased the necessary evidence to help scientists discover how it developed.
It has had significant cultural and spiritual importance to local indigenous people. Despite President Theodore Roosevelt making it a national monument in 1906, it remains a cherished piece of native ancestry.
Religious and cultural ceremonies continue to take place around the monument. As a sign of respect, a voluntary climbing closure occurs each June. This allows cultural rituals and other traditions to take place without interruption.
In a typical year, between 400,000 and 500,000 visitors come to explore the monument. However, only a fraction of those are brave enough to make the 867-foot climb to the top.
Park attendance almost doubled after Steven Spielberg’s 1977 blockbuster “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was released. We won’t spoil anything for you, but the location played a significant role in the film.
Is Climbing Devils Tower Dangerous?
Unfortunately, a certain level of inherent danger comes with climbing. While some routes are easier than others, none are for beginners. Reaching the top requires skill, strength, and stamina. However, having the right equipment and knowledge doesn’t hurt.
You could find yourself in a dangerous and deadly situation with one false move. Despite its technical difficulties and dangers, only six climbing-related deaths have occurred at the monument since 1937.
While this is a relatively small number, you cannot take your safety lightly while climbing.
Did a Guy Get Stuck on Devils Tower?
In 1941, Devils Tower instantly became the center of a national media frenzy.
George Hopkins, a professional parachutist, wanted to attract attention to the world record he was trying to set. To do so, he jumped out of a plane and landed with his parachute on top of the monument.
Fortunately, Hopkins hit his mark and landed safely on the one-acre summit. Unfortunately, the bag containing the rope to allow him to climb down did not. It ended up stuck to the side. Hopkins had no backup plan or equipment for getting down.
The ordeal lasted six days and attracted several thousand visitors to the monument. Hopkins and NPS officials had to wait for Jack Durrance, an expert climber, to arrive and assist with the rescue. Durrance and a team of seven were able to help Hopkins safely descend to the ground.
Things to Do When Visiting Devils Tower
A trip to Devils Tower is an experience as unique as the tower itself. You typically only need a day or two at this incredible natural wonder. Here are some things you’ll want to do during your trip.
Hike Tower Trail
One of the best ways to see the area is by hiking Tower Trail. This is a 1.8-mile paved trail that typically takes less than 45 minutes to complete. Visitors can walk around the entire structure and enjoy it from different angles.
Unfortunately, a majority of this trail is not ADA-accessible. It has several areas during the loop with somewhat strenuous inclines. If you need a break or want to enjoy the view, take advantage of the numerous benches lining the trail.
Attend Ranger Programs
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, park rangers host a variety of ranger-led programs. These include guided walks, short talks, and evening programs at the campground’s amphitheater. These are excellent opportunities to learn from experts on the park.
Like most national park units, visitors of all ages have the opportunity to participate in the National Park Junior Ranger Program. These fun activities help educate guests about the park’s history and the many animals there.
Once you finish the booklet, you can return it to the park’s visitor center and get sworn in as an official junior ranger.
Keep in Mind: Can you survive a swim in the Devil’s Den? Let’s dive in and see!
Bring Your Camera
The views in and around Devils Tower National Monument are remarkable. Even novice photographers can capture stunning pictures on their phones. You can get great photos here any time of day. The lighting constantly changes as the sun and clouds move across the sky.
One mistake you don’t want to make is not checking your storage or battery life. You don’t want to show up and discover that you have no space for pictures or that your battery has 7%.
If possible, delete any unused apps and back up your images ahead of time. In addition, it’s a good idea to have a portable power brick to avoid a dead battery.
Watch for Wildlife
Devils Tower National Monument is home to prairie dogs, deer, bison, and over 150 species of birds. While looking at the monument, watch for Peregrine falcons, raptors, golden eagles, and hawks.
Additionally, you’ll likely encounter rodents such as chipmunks, ground squirrels, and cottontail rabbits on the ground.
The dry and rocky terrains of eastern Wyoming are perfect for various reptile species. Some common reptiles seen throughout the park include rattlesnakes, garter snakes, and different types of lizards.
While spotting wildlife is fun, remember they’re wild animals. Keep your distance and never approach them. If you go camping, secure your food.
Human food can be harmful and disrupt their natural behaviors. It could cause the wildlife to see people as a food source, leading to aggressive encounters.
Visit Devils Tower Visitor Center
One of the best places to get information about the park is Devils Tower Visitor Center. It was constructed in 1935 from ponderosa pine logs with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps.
After stepping inside, you can chat with park rangers, visit the bookstore, and walk through educational exhibits.
If you want to do the Junior Ranger Program we mentioned earlier, this is where you can pick up the booklets. Additionally, park rangers are almost always available during operating hours to share their knowledge and answer questions regarding hikes, wildlife, and many other aspects of the monument.
Learn About the Native American Legends
While Devils Tower became a national monument in the early 1900s, it has held cultural significance for thousands of years. The Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne, and many other indigenous groups have a variety of cultural stories and spiritual beliefs surrounding the land.
It’s common to find flags and other spiritually significant items tied to tree limbs while exploring the area. If you come across these, leave them alone. They’re there for a reason, and touching or moving them is disrespectful.
You can find exhibits and educational stations inside the visitor center and throughout the park to learn about the culture. You may even witness a ceremony or other traditional event if you’re lucky.
Keep in Mind: Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to give up on hiking! Check out these tips for hiking with children.
Attend Special Events
The most popular events include interpretive talks and tower or full moon walks. These can be great opportunities to learn more in-depth information and facts about the monument, its history, and the culture surrounding it.
Should You Climb Devils Tower?
If you’re an experienced climber with proven skills, climbing to Devils Tower can be an exciting adventure. However, new or inexperienced individuals should settle for enjoying the view from the ground.
Rock falls can and do occur and can be very dangerous. Wear the proper safety equipment and be ready to embark on this epic journey.
We’ll wait to see if another beats Alice’s record. Until then, keep on climbing.