We arrived at the base of the 'approach' pitch at 7:30am and were disheartened to see a party on the route AND a group of three waiting. We had already climbed this pitch for practice and had organized our rack the night before. We'd decided Scott would take the first lead so I could get the Leaning Column pitch. We were ready to climb.
Scott led the 5.5 approach pitch after 3 Kiwis let us go ahead of them. The 64yr old Kiwi leader first said no, then softened after vetting Scott. This saved the day.
I led the Leaning Column, passing two guys from NY who were moving slow. Dad had led this pitch in 1978, with me and Mike Kerley following in mountain boots. There were two very old pitons in place. I could wiggle one with my fingers. I clipped one and later placed a big 4.5 Camalot (we were glad to have this on the next pitch).
Scott led the Durrance Crack, a steep 75' double crack ending with the route's crux 5.8 move to gain the top of a pillar. While I belayed, I heard the NY leader swearing and grunting below me.
I led Cussin Crack placing two TCUs behind a small flake to protect the awkward off-width moves leading to a ledge. I shuffled right on the ledge, stepped out over 200' of air and then up into the pleasant 5.5 Flake Crack.
Scott led Chockstone Chimney, 5.6: a short pitch with real chimney moves and then some steep pulling over a large chockstone with good handholds.
I then led the short 15' Jump Traverse, clipping a fixed piton and face climbing on a horizontal finger crack. No jumping for me. 5.8.
We then took up coils and walked across the Meadows arriving at the rock pedestal that marks the start of the 4th class exit pitch.
Scott led through the rough frozen lava and we topped out at 11:45am, 4hrs after starting.
We spent a half hour on the summit enjoying the first totally dry day of the week and being grateful for clouds that blocked the hot sun. We then rappelled 120' to the Meadows followed by three more double rope rappels (50M double ropes). In 1.5hrs we were down and were shocked to see the New Yorkers and Kiwis jammed-up at the top of the Durrance Crack. We couldn't believe how slow they were moving.
We hiked down and walked the paved loop to the parking lot, letting the tourists know we had summitted the Tower. We signed out at the climbers register at 2pm.
Back at our Belle Fourche campsite we cracked open cold beers and lounged in our $10 camp chairs. After sunset we could see headlamps on top of the Tower. We later learned from the Kiwis that the New Yorkers ended up spending 15hrs on their climb.
Durrance Route, 5.8, 7 pitches, ~500', 6hrs r/t