#37 Castleton: Kor-Ingalls 5.9
When we shut the doors of the van for the final time, turned the key and started driving… it was almost impossible to collect our present situation into words. Over the past year I purchased a van, built it into a home and miraculously saved enough money to live out of it for a year with my loving girlfriend and our dog. Finally we were able to set fire to the imaginary walls that held our every thought about this trip. They would no longer be fantasy or day dream but now with the fierce roar of 8 American made cylinders it was a reality.
Our first stop would be Moab Ut, a short hop from SLC and home to some of the best climbing in the Southwest. First on our list was Castleton via the Kor-Ingalls route. A 1963 5.9. Basically all that means is that it’s difficult.
When we arrived in the parking lot of Castleton Isabel was quick to go to bed but my excitement kept me up for around an hour or so. I sat outside the van on a boulder looking up at the silhouette of the tower. The tower arose out of the ground, sitting calmly in the foreground of the thinly stitched vail containing distant worlds and galaxies. The longer I sat and stared at it the more I knew that I needed to go to bed so I could actually climb the damn thing. I eventually crawled my way into bed and in a matter of hours we would be making our way up the scree field at 3am.
Mountain Project (n): An app used by climbers of all skill levels to seek new challenges, find inspiration and argue with other climbers.
Obvious (a): A term coined by climbers used to describe the path to their climb. Can be replaced synonymously with the middle finger emoji.
We lost the trail to say the least but minutes after we stashed our gear and called our first attempt a failure we found the trail…figures. The next morning we tried again, this time following the trail to the climb. Castleton is only 4 pitches but they are long, somewhere around 165ft-190ft each. All of these pitches are calcite coated off width just to add to the misery. The first two pitches were awful but straight forward it’s the 3rd pitch crux that is bananas, a couple crazy off width moves to a weird dihedral stem and face moves. It took me a while but I got past it and we moved on to the final pitch, an awesome 5 fun face climb to the top. I led all four pitches and was flat out exhausted by the top of the climb.
The top is beautiful. With a couple of moves we were suddenly immersed in a different world. We had climbed in the dead of night so when we finally reached sunrise and the end of our climb the top felt like a different planet.
It was worth it.