Sylvan Rocks climbing provided me with the most incredible guide for my trip to Devil's tower. Tony Schwartz was patient with me, even when I asked the same question 5 or 6 times because I was feeling anxious. He spent the first day at the Sylvan Lake area explaining exactly what we were going to be doing on the tower, showed me all of the anchor systems that he would be using, and taught me everything I needed to know in order to follow him safely up the tower.
In addition to being a great teacher, Tony was incredibly friendly and has a depth of character that shows great maturity and insight. He was very knowledgeable about the formations in both the Sylvan Lake area and around Devil's Tower. When we topped the tower, he took some time to show me around and explain what I was looking at in every direction. He had great stories about the history of the tower, and how it was formed.
When I was struggling with the crux pitch, Tony helped me stay calm and not get frustrated. He was supportive and encouraging . . . reminding me that it was "smash and grab" crack climbing . . . not graceful face climbing. He was not critical of my sloppy technique, nor did he become impatient with me . . . even though the climb must have been cake to him. His first-hand knowledge of the route was exceptional, and he was able to help me find holds from 100' above me.
Tony was excellent at rope management and keeping me safe while on the tower. I would finish a pitch shaking and exhausted, and Tony would already be working the ropes and getting ready for the next pitch. He would tell me where to sit or stand safely, and always made sure I was correctly anchored, tied in, and all the carabiners were correctly locked. He climbed each pitch effortlessly, and talked me through most of the opening moves. He took time to explain traverses and other moves that were tricky while he was climbing, and made sure I stayed on-route.
I have been working on this goal for 6 years, and I'm not sure I could have done it without Tony's calm demeanor, professionalism, and epic climbing abilities.
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