During one of our visits to Gearheads early on the trip, Em spotted this thing by Gearloop Topos which consisted of a laminated card and a cord at the bottom so that you can attach it onto your harness and it’ll be on the right way which had topo on one side, description/details on the other and a looped cord to tie into your harness.
They had them for a variety of climbs and the one she bought was for a climb on the Rectory in Castle Valley called Fine Jade 5.11a. It was a climb that a friend of hers recommended… Over the next week nothing was said about it as we were too busy cragging at different walls everyday.
Our group size increased and slowly there were mentions of climbing towers, in particular, Castleton Tower. Anh mentioned that we should check out Kor Ingalls which was listed as one of the top 50 climbs in the states. We started reading and sussing out Kor Ingalls and Fine Jade on the internet and mountain project … One being a 5.9, the other being a 5.11 which was at our very limit of grades but it’ll be a final test piece… The epic Magnum Opus
We decided we’d do Fine Jade however the next morning when we drove to meet Anh at the Castleton camp ground… It was raining… Non stop since we drove from Indian Creek to Castle Valley. They recommend giving the rock 24hrs to dry after heavy rain… So we had to mission abort…
Here we are looking for shelter during the rain to cook our breakfast! Check out the layer of mud the girls have on their shoes!!
Haha you should check out the decision tree for climbing on Friends of Indian Creeks Facebook page.. Basically it says if there’s mud on your shoes, you shouldn’t climb!
We all drove to Wall Street instead where there was climbing right beside the road…. You could even belay from your car!
I spotted this roof and it was on! I gave it a burn.. Couldn’t do all the moves but looked sick and reminded me of Kalbarri Gold.
During the warm up, Em’s foot slipped whilst her hands stayed… She ended up pulling her pectoral muscle and it was pretty game over for the day.. She was devastated =(
The weather was better in Castle Valley than Indian Creek for the following day. Em decided to take the day off and encouraged Cylvie and I to hit up a multipitch on Castleton Tower. There were two options on our minds, either Kor Ingalls or North Chimney. We met a guide whilst we were doing our laundry and he suggested that North Chimney is a much better climb than Kor Ingalls which was more of a squeeze chimney in awkward sizes. He also gave us some great beta for North Chimney so I was pretty keen for it.
Here’s a picture of Castleton Tower on the right. It was first climbed on September 16, 1961 by Layton Kor and Huntley Ingalls and is one of the most famous routes up the tower.
We got up 6am and headed out to Castle Valley after breakfast. Em dropped us off at the camp ground and she headed to check out the Arches National Park. We started the approach around 10:45am. The walk went through some really cool slot canyons before heading up switchbacks and then onto the sketchy dirt switchbacks… So scary! It’s basically flattish dirt about a foot wide then 45 degree slopes on both sides.. =S
After some 4th class scrambling… We got to the ridge between Castleton Tower and the Rectory. It was soooo windy! I wore 3 shirts, a synthetic belay jacket, a raincoat and long Johns and still cold! When we started the approach, they’re was another couple doing the Kor Ingalls and a party of three doing the North Chimney.. They raced us up.. Poor form… Good thing there was no one after us so we took it easy.
As we were racking up, I was looking in their direction and heard someone scream take and then scream some more. The guy leading took a whip and looked like he hit the ground… Me and Cylvie looked at each other… Shiiiit. I quickly went off to take another pee.. It was my 5th one since arriving… I was pretty nervous.
They definitely don’t make the climb easy.. First the sketchy slippery dirt 45 deg slopey switchbacks before a 4th class scramble on more dirt and nearly getting blown off then the bouldery section just to get to the base of the climb…
The second and third members of the party started climbing so i prepared myself and off I went!
The first pitch consisted of a 0.5 corner crack with bad feet before gaining the roof and then over into the twin crack system. It was 120′ long with heaps of jams and crack city. I expected it to be harder to be honest but loved it! It then has a final “bulge” section which is supposed to be the crux however I didn’t even notice it until I was past it.
There was a small ledge and the 2nd and 3rd members of the other party were there. I sorted out a hanging belay and Cylvie was ready to go. I actually live hanging belays… I really enjoy watching the second climbing and I get psyched for them.
Here we are hanging off the first belay!
The second pitch kicked off by gaining a ledge and then going straight into an offwidth section. We brought a #6 cam with us and it was perfect! The offwidth felt like a piece of cake thanks to all the practice we’ve had =) the offwidth comes out into a number of cracks where you cam jam your way up and rarely needing to chimney.
There wasn’t a time where you felt like you had to do a tough move.. There were always footers to help if you looked. The blocks and cracks continued until you reached a ledge which is protected by 2 pitons.
Here’s a photo of one of the guys in the other party starting the 3rd pitch. He’s making it look tough with the chimneying but you can keep jamming your way up until you get to the top which you arrive on the left side and then you have to step across the gap/chimney to the right, continue on with a short section of chimney before you arrive in this corridor. At the end of the corridor you see the rest of the route, an exposed flake section with 400ft of air below! But before you get there, you have to climb up some calcite tiles/flakes on the face and traverse into the flake.
These calcite holds have the look of melted wax! Super weird but they feel super hard and brittle.. Very slippery!
Once I got to the anchor, the other party was setting up a rappel rope for us all to head down. I belayed Cylvie up and she loved the pitch as much as I did! We got to the top, it was 5:30pm and took a photo!
Once all the other parties rappelled down, it was our turn.
Another 1.5 hrs later, we were at the bottom and met Em who was worried sick waiting for us since 4pm…. Definitely the best multipitch I’ve ever done and the best seconder I’ve ever climbed with! Boy I slept well that night =)