There were only two known climbing routes. The first had been established in 1937 by Fritz Wiessner, an expatriate German living in the U.S. Wiessner's line followed a risky path, a vertical crack some 70 to 80 feet long and about six inches wide. After studying it, Field decided their best hope lay with the second route, worked out in 1938 by Jack Durrance, a dashing young American climber who had spent much time climbing in the Alps. Durrance's brother, Dick, was one of America's finest ski racers in the '30s.
Field and Gorrell tried Durrance's route, negotiating a 10-foot wall with only a two-inch crack for purchase, and next a leaning column 18 feet high. Then they stood on a small, nearly flat platform at the base of a 60-foot pitch that was the key to the rest of the ascent. There were two tiny cracks, three feet apart, running the length of the pitch. Except for that, the face of the rock was smooth.
"We both tried to ascend this pitch," Field reported, "frontwards, backwards, sideways and endways—with no luck." They backed off, but left a fixed rope hanging from the top of the column.
When they returned to headquarters, Joyner showed them a telegram from Jack Durrance. Back East at Dartmouth, where he was a student, Durrance had read of Hopkins' predicament and wired word that he was coming to the rescue.
The next couple of days Field and, Gorrell worked at making Durrance's climb easier, driving iron spikes into cracks too large for conventional pitons, and leaning an extension ladder halfway up the difficult 60-foot pitch.
Durrance, joined by another Dartmouth climber, Merrill McLane, began a dramatic cross-country dash. They flew to Chicago, where they declined reporters' requests for photographs, and continued by train to Denver.
Meanwhile, on top of Devils Tower, Hopkins cursed his rope, by now frozen hard, and passed the time counting rocks. An airplane had dropped him a fur-lined aviator's suit. "Quit worrying about me up here," he wrote in a note pitched over the side. "I'm all right."
On Saturday, Oct. 4, 700 people spent the day at Devils Tower, giving themselves stiff necks.
Meanwhile, two other climbers had arrived from the Tetons, Paul Petzoldt and Harold Rapp. Durrance had worked as a guide for Petzoldt, and once had applied for the guide concession that Petzoldt held in the Tetons. Rapp, taller than 6'7", was nicknamed "Timberline."
In Omaha, a newspaper announced that it had hired a Goodyear blimp, the Reliance, to fly from Akron and pluck Hopkins off the top of Devils Tower, but estimated it would take at least three days for the blimp to reach Wyoming.