87-Year-Old breaks record with summit of Devils Tower National Monument

Credit: Robert Kelman

Robert Kelman, 87 just set the record for oldest person to climb to the top of Devils Tower.  Before Kelman’s September 11 summit, the oldest person to reach the top was 83-years-old.

The Devils Tower National Monument official Facebook Page congratulated Kelman and posted a picture of him at the top late last week. The post has been shared close to 1000 times.

Climbing Devils Tower is not a hike. It’s a climb that involves ropes and technical skill. The National Monument rises dramatically 867 feet from summit to base.

Devils Tower Oldest Person to climb summit
Devils Tower. Credit: National Park Service

Kelman and his guide took the Durrance route, which is rated a 5.7. The rating indicates that the climb is very steep but still has some good holds.

This YouTube video of climbers taking the Durrance route offers some perspective on how incredible Kelman’s achievement​ is.


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Kelman’s guide, Taylor Lais, said he and Kelman had been training for the climb since March.

“Climbing the Tower with Rob was an unforgettable experience,” Lais told Climbing.com. “We moved up the Durrance steadily, [and] he was a pleasure to climb with.”

In Kelman’s photo, he’s appropriately wearing a Superman shirt.

Credit: Robert Kelman

Kelman arguably is Superman. He had open heart surgery just two years ago.

Cheers to Robert Kelman!

America’s first National Monument

Devils Tower was declared a National Monument in 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt.  A bill was pending in the Senate to name Devils Tower a National Park, but it never gained enough support in Congress.

The designation was made possible by the Antiquities Act of 1906, and the Wyoming location became the first National Monument in the United States.

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