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Frank Sanders, 57, owns Devils Tower Lodge, a guide service and basecamp for climbers located a few hundred yards away from the crack climbing kingdom of Devils Tower National Monument in Northeast Wyoming. Frank succeeded in climbing on the tower every day (except for five days when his back was out). Despite this small hurdle he still managed to top out 365 times. He shared the experience with more than 200 partners in perfect weather and brutal winter conditions. He also succeeded in a climbing four new routes along his year-long adventure.
“Project 365” began on July 4, 2007, and ended July 3, 2008 and was designed to draw attention to the Native Americans on the reservations around Devils Tower. His final climb, late on the evening of July 3rd, was not prety, but he still kept climbing. He had Colorado Tick Fever, which left him, in Frank’s words, “… not hitting on all of the cylinders…” His lover Juliana Byrd and Devils Tower Lodge Hostess Kristin Rothaupt brought flute and drum to the base of the tower and during his final climb, in the dark, played music as he reached the end of his year long goal.
An annual voluntary climbing ban occurs in June on Devils Tower that many folks comply with. Others, like Frank, find the tower to be a sacred place in their own belief system and see that climbing can be a sacred activity as well. Frank hoped to unite the many people who find Devils Tower a sacred place in aiding the Native Americans in the region. As Frank puts it: “This is not El Cap in 2.5 Hours. It’s more like Three Cups of Tea and it is what one soul has been doing for his 57th year on this planet.” His “not-for-profit” organization is www.devilstower-sacredtomanypeople.org
“The Native Americans need physical help,” says Frank. “Pine Ridge Reservation has 30,000 Souls, and 3,000 houses, half of which lack water and/or electricity. Life expectancy is 52 for women and 48 for men. 60% of the folks there, over 40, have some form of diabetes. Infant mortality is five times the national average….and the list goes on!”
“In this past year, with our not-for-profit operation, we have found, without exception, that ALL help is warmly appreciated. We have been working with the clinic at the Porcupine Reservation bringing them very basic supplies (things that you and I take for granted). We have had success with several large chain stores, like Wal Mart, in getting them to match funds that we come up with.”
“Donations have come from our B&B guests and climbing clients; through sales of shirts, posters, and outright donations. We are trying to get this information out to the larger climbing community, and get some clues on better fund raising ideas and methods.”
Operated by the U.S. National Park Service, the tower became the first national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. The monumental tower sours above the scenic Belle Fourche River while thousands of prairie dogs (and tourists) scurry around the base. Frank first climbed on Devils Tower when he was 20, in 1972, and fell in love the place with eventually purchasing property next to the national park service boundary where he could run his guide service and lodge for climbers.
These days, Frank knows the tower better than anyone around. Please contact him for information about climbing on Devils Tower and to reserve a room.
Devils Tower Lodge P. O. Box 66 Devils Tower, WY82714 (888) 314- JAMS (5267)www.devilstowerlodge.com
To make a donation to his non-profit please visit: www.devilstower-sacredtomanypeople.org