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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 3:15 pm 
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Cap'n Wingspan
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:08 pm
Posts: 1045
Location: Wallingford
On day two of a 10 day trip in the Moab area, Bryan Hendrick and were privileged to climb one of the 50 classics of North America, the Kor-Ingalls route on Castleton Tower. At 400 feet high, Castleton is one of the iconic images of Utah, and a great introduction to desert tower climbing, with mostly solid rock, solid gear, and solid anchors, a trifecta somewhat unusual for the desert.

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Still dark at 6

We camped in the free (free!) primitive climbers campground at the start of the trail up to Castleton. It doesn't have any bathroom facilities, so bring some wag bags if you use it, which you should, since it's, did I mention, free?

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View from the wash trail, with the Rectory to the left, the Priest all the way to the left

We got a pretty early start up the trail at 7, a little concerned that, despite it being a weekday, there would be a lot of traffic on the K-I. The trail is well marked through a wash and up the talus cone, taking about an hour for the enjoyable approach. When we reached the tower, we saw a party in the North Chimney route, the only other people on Castleton the entire time we were there.

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Castletons North Face. The North Chimney route ascends the shadowed area on the left face in the sun

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Bryan about to enter the very awkward squeeze chimneys on P1

Circling around to the south side, Bryan started up P1, an awkward 5.7 squeeze chimney to another 5.4 squeeze chimney, maybe 14 inches wide? We were trailing our packs and thrutched our way up. P2 was a bit more aesthetic, a beautiful 5.8+ pitch with a couple crack options to chose from. Unfortunately they were all rather wide and I would have liked to have more than just one #4, as I took a small fall onto the 4 before running it out big time. Good steep climbing though.

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P2 ascends the shadowed corner

P3 was the money pitch (either a credit or debit, depending on how much you like/hate offwidths). Long and varied, the 5.9+ offwidth pitch lives up to it's reputation as a techy, sometimes thrutchy bit of climbing. Bryan, the crack master on our team got the lead and worked up smoothly, clipping the 2 old bolts and running out the offwidth pro.

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Bryan squeezed into the top of the offwidth, retrieving a cam I couldn't reach

The crack, essentially a stepped dihedral, sometimes forced the climber to face in, sometimes out, and had sections with some pretty polished and calcite covered face climbing. What a pitch!

The last pitch was supposed to be 5.7easy, but I misinterpreted the topo directions and went straight up the wrong chimney, taking a more direct line to the anchors. Unfortunately there's a reason people don't take a direct line, as this turned out to be by far the hardest and most desperate climbing of the day for me.

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Bryan squeezing through the shitty P4 chimney

Groveling and skinning my way through an extremely tight and awkward squeeze chimney I realized I was facing the wrong direction and couldn't get out. I couldn't really downclimb either, as I didn't know how to reverse the non-moves that had gotten me into the position I was in in the first place. I got the rack off and hung it with my pack and finally managed to squeeze out the side of the crack, hanging airily over the blank face before I could finally pull the last bulge onto the easy terrain. That sucked. Easy climbing brought me to the chains and the anchor and all was forgotten.

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Yay summit. Photo by Bryan Hendrick

We spent well over an hour on the broad flat summit eating lunch, enjoying the views, and reading the thick volumes of summit registers kept in an old army ammo can. There were some interesting entries.

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Someone hates offwidths

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The leader must not fall...in fact, the follower shouldn't either

Finally it was time to descend, two double rope rappels straight down the very steep north face route (5.11b/c). At the bottom we met a couple who had just climbed Fine Jade (5.11a) on the Rectory, another area classic. They were planning to climb either the North Chimney (5.8) or the North Face routes with haulbags, and planned to spend the night on the summit to celebrate their anniversary. Cool idea. An easy hike back to camp completed a great climb.

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Long, steep rappel

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Same shot, different angle. Photo by Bryan Hendrick

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Parting shot. K-I route goes up the shaded corner


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:21 pm 
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Dr. Crevasse
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Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2002 11:17 am
Posts: 921
Location: Seattle
First of all, welcome home! Second, looks like good climbing. Nice job on getting through the offwidths.

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"It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid." Q


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:13 am 
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experienced hiker of the climbing club
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Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 6:39 pm
Posts: 1945
Location: Bashing Brush
With your off-width training, there are a few routes in the Liberty Bell group that I may encourage you to rope gun next spring. :-)


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