The day had finally come we would attempt to summit our first Classic Climb of North America. It was the 5.9+ route named Kor Ingalls on Castleton Tower in Castle Valley, Utah. We woke up around 7:30 after a good 12 hours of sleep. We awoke to people heading out to climb. Jerry and I got up and got our gear ready to go. Katie wasnâ€™t far behind.
After we had everything ready to go we headed out. We were the fourth group to leave the camping/parking area. The climb didnâ€™t look very far away but as we hiked it was apparent that the hike was going to be a good one. We started out crossing a slot canyon right at the base of the camping area and make our way to the base of the pyramid of rock that Castleton Tower sat on top of. The hike was long and very steep, which was compounded by the gear we were carrying. There was a section of rock that we had to take off our packs and climb up then hand the packs one by one to each other to gain the next trail. The next part of the trail was on crush rocks which made things interesting. The hike up took us about an hour and forty-five minutes. The hike start off very cool and by the time we made it to the base of the tower we were sweating like crazy, which made the forty minute wait even worse because the wind was blowing and made it cold. There ended up only being two groups ahead of us, one of the groups headed over to another climb on the other side of the tower.
We talked to the group ahead of us while we waited for the first group to get up. Their names were Bill and Kaskay. Bill was a 61-year-old retired teacher from Minnesota. Kaskay was a professor at a University in Minnesota.
As soon as Kaskay started up the route, I follow behind him. The first pitch was a 5.6 with a 5.3 scramble and the top section was what the book called a 5.5 chimney. I thought the chimney was a little harder then 5.5, I might just need to work on that chimney technique and also lose a few pound. Once to the top I again met up with Bill and he said he didnâ€™t think I would make it up the chimney and he just laugh. I set up an anchor system since Bill was using the anchors to belay Kaskay up the next pitch. Katie was the next to climb and she would clean the gear from the route. After some choice words in the chimney she gained the belay ledge with me. Jerry followed Katie and joined us on the ledge.
I had just purchase some Sterling Double ropes right before our trip so we were getting a chance to use them. We found out that with double rope, rope management became a greater issue. The ropes were smaller and lighter but with two there was more rope to handle. It worked out alright since we had to wait for the other guys to get up the pitch in front of us it gave us time to re-flake the ropes and make everything right. Iâ€™m sure were where not going to set any speed records so it was alright that we wasted a little time getting the ropes situated.
I was Jerryâ€™s turn to lead the next pitch. The 2nd pitch of the climb was rated at 5.8 and followed a small off-width crack up about 80 feet. There were a few tricky spots that needed some thinking to over come. Jerry had a fine lead under his belt. Again, Katie cleaned the route and then I followed.
Once to the top of the 2nd pitch the sun came out and the temperature rose and made the climbing just right, so I removed my coat. As I removed my coat I forgot that I had put my hat on the inside of my jacket and it tumble out and down the side of the tower. It was a good thing the wind wasnâ€™t blowing like the day before or I would have never seen it again. It came to rest at the top of the 1st pitch.
The third pitch was mine. It was the crux of the climb it was a 5.9+ huge off-width chimney. I headed up and place a couple pieces of gear and made the move into the chimney. Once in the chimney it was clear that there was going to be parts that were going to be run out, that was due to the shear width of the chimney. Parts of the chimney were wider then my shoulders. To make things more interesting back side of the chimney was covered in slick calcite which made foot placements interesting at best. After maneuvering my way up the chimney and testing my nerves, I placed the #5 cam that Charles said I could place at the top of the Chimney. However, I could not have placed it in the chimney and since I had drug it all the way up I decided I would place it under this bolder to protect the somewhat easy move out of the chimney.
I once again met up with Bill. We talked a while as I setup a belay station on the anchors and belayed the others up. Katie again cleaned the route and was some what frustrated by the time she made it up out of the chimney, but the great thing is that she made it. Jerry had followed her and wasnâ€™t too far behind. We again waited while Bill topped out on the fourth and final pitch.
This last pitch was Jerryâ€™s lead it was a 5.7. The climb was interesting it moved up a huge crack and then you had to pull a small roof to gain the next ledge and then work your way up some calcite covered walls to somewhat inclined traverse up to the final belay station, from there it was a 10 walk to the top. I climb second this time clean the gear and Katie followed me to the top.
We had made the summit successfully but that was only the half way point we still had to make it down safely. We filled out the summit register and browsed its pages, to find out last year a group of guys hauled a grill and burgers to the top and had a barbeque. That would have been a nice surprise to the climbers that day.
We took some picture and ate a cliff bar before we headed down. We started with a full double rope rappel to the top of the second pitch. We had to pull up the ropes after we tossed them because they tangled on the way down. Once we had the tangles out, I headed down first, then Katie and finally Jerry. Once on the top of the second ledge we threaded the rope through the rap ring and pull the rope above us. It came down and setup our next rap. I again was the first one down; on the way down I stop and grabbed my hat, but then remembered I forgot my coat on the top of the 2nd pitch, good thing Jerry and Katie were still up there. Kate rap second then Jerry. This rap took us to the top of the 1st pitch.
From the 1st pitch it was one last rappel to the base of the tower. After fixing some tangles in the rope Katie came down then Jerry. We packed up the gear and started our decent back to the car.
The hike down the first 400 feet or so was interesting because it was all on loose rock so you had to make sure you kept your balance or you would end up on your butt and sliding. Katie found out the hard way. We finally made it to the section of rock were we had came up and had to down climb to the trail. Once we made the trail we met up with Bill and Kaskay again and passed the on the way down. The hike down was much easier on the cardio but harder on the knees. It was a good thing the hike down only took us about 45 minutes.
When we got back to the car we picked up camp and headed for the Moab Brewery. We all felt we had earned a beer. There we met up with Charles and Jon who had come back up to spend the weekend with us. We talked Bill and Kaskay to come out and celebrate a successful day climbing, with us. I decided I had also earned a good steak and so I order one and it tasted wonderful. After a couple hours of drinking and eating we decided it was time to head out and find us a campsite for the final night in Moab.
We decided it would be easy to find a place in Slickrock, so we headed back out there. We ended up having to camp at one of the overflow sites do to the people that were there form Jeep Week 2006. It wasnâ€™t a big deal because we would be up and out before anyone else.