Durrance and McLane arrived in Denver, where they added Alpinist Chappel Cranmer to their party. Then they drove to Cheyenne, Wyo. and picked up Henry Coulter, another Dartmouth man and Durrance's brother-in-law. With a Wyoming police escort clearing the way, they reached Devils Tower late Sunday.
Bad weather in Akron grounded the blimp, but in a cold rain at Devils Tower a crowd of several hundred watched and waited. On top, during Hopkins' fifth night, it snowed again.
At 7:30 a.m. Monday, Hopkins' sixth day aloft, all eight climbers—Durrance, McLane, Cranmer, Coulter, Petzoldt, Rapp, Field and Gorrell—began working their way up the rock. Durrance, in the lead, was grateful for the spikes and ladder because the face of the Tower was glazed with ice, though he was upset that Petzoldt, following, seemed just as interested in taking pictures for the press as in providing belays.
Field, the Rocky Mountain park ranger who had been on the scene now for four days, was awed by Durrance's climb. Jamming his hands into small cracks, wedging a foot where the crack widened, driving pitons and two-by-four stakes, Durrance steadily ascended. It took nearly an hour for him to make the 30 feet from the top rung of Field's and Gorrell's ladder to a ledge. Durrance secured a rope and the others came up.
Back in Akron, in clearing weather, the Goodyear blimp took to the air, it made Fort Wayne before deteriorating weather forced it down.
Now the climbers faced easier going. The angle was less steep and there were more secure places to belay. About 75 feet from the top they reached a sloping shelf where it was possible to walk. The only ticklish moment came at a four-foot break in the shelf over a 500-foot drop. One by one the climbers leaped the gap.
At four o'clock they met Hopkins on the summit. He was sorely disappointed no one had brought any more liquor, but he chatted amiably. The thousand feet of rope lay strung about the acre-and-a-half surface like a giant spider web. Field made a mental inventory of the gear Hopkins had acquired—several blankets, a tent, the fur-lined flying suit, boots and helmet, gloves, hot water bottles, chemical heating pads, portable stove, coal and wood, flashlight, ax, and enough food to fill a general store. The most valuable stuff, including Hopkins' parachute, they heaved over the edge.
The climbers gave Hopkins a quick lesson in rappelling, something he had never heard of, and started the descent. Hopkins took the middle position and Durrance came last. The chutist was an apt pupil and had almost no trouble swinging down the mountain, as slick as any Indian maiden.
With a bright spotlight lent by a Denver radio station, and the headlights of several hundred cars providing additional illumination, the climbers approached the base about 9 p.m. Hopkins faced the crush of reporters and well-wishers even before the rest of the climbers were off the rock.
Considering the six days and five nights he had been stranded on Devils Tower, Hopkins was in good shape. "I feel first-class," he said, "but I need plenty of sleep." Other than the cold and boredom—"I bet I counted the boulders on that damned mountain peak a thousand times, and gave 'em all names you couldn't print"—his biggest problem was the resident rodent population, which threatened to devour his foodstuffs while he tried to sleep. Particularly cheeky were what he called "bull chipmunks."