Castleton Tower is on the right, The Priest and th...
This is one of the earliest modern desert routes, it was the first on this 6656 foot tower, and it was put up by the dynamic duo of astrophysicist, Huntley Ingalls. and the incomparable Layton Kor in September of 1961. Arriving in the valley before their friends Fred Beckey and Harvey Carter, they started up the route on a reconnaissance, climbed a 100 foot pitch, continued with a more challenging pitch requiring some aid climbing, and rappelled. The next day they mixed aid and offwidth/chimney techniques as they ascended the third pitch. The crux required two bolts for aid climbing. Interestingly, when Californians Chuck Pratt and Steve Roper made the second ascent in 1963, they found many pieces of lumber strewn about the summit. Perplexed, they considered various explanations that did not add up. Suddenly, they realized that there had been an advertisement with a car and a shapely model on a desert summit for which they had built a wooden platform. Who would have thought?
In contrast to many desert routes, this climb utilizes calcite-coated Wingate sandstone for much of the route. This means the rock will seem stronger than average in strength; however, this also means it will be slick in spots due to polished calcite.
It is of the utmost importance that you bring a gym/sport climber with you to follow you on this routes, especially if they are European. Doing this will make this route an even more memorable experience. Trust me. Additionally, do the route in the winter. You can get 1/2 price motel rooms in Moab and the crowds won't be there.
To reach the route, follow the directions to Castleton Tower. Take the new trail and head to the left (North) side of the tower to bypass the short cliff band. It should be noted that this cliff band is fun to down-climb in the dark, so you may not want to miss it. After bouldering up a short, exposed bit, head left towards the route - a big, fat dihedral on the South side as you approach the tower.
P1 - this is a 140 foot, 5.easy pitch that splits into 4 sections. It starts at a wide dihedral crack/chimney system, goes up about 20 feet to a big ledge and continues past a bulge. Head slightly left to a fat dihedral/squeeze chimney that puts you onto another almost as big ledge (2 bolt rap anchor on the right). Continue up another short chimney to a belay at yet another big ledge (gear anchor). 5.6, 140'.
P2 - head up the obvious crack system. It is weird and is more or less a double crack system. After ~20', the left crack goes up past a bolt and continues as Black Sun. The right crack is the original line; however, you could continue up Black Sun a bit further and angle right later. You'll figure-out how to do it. Double #4 Camalots and a bit of leap-frogging can make this more reasonable. Note, face climb around some large, loose blocks in the last 25' of this pitch. Be very careful with these, they shift. This pitch also takes a couple of bomber medium to large stoppers towards the top. At the end of this pitch, you will be placed at a ledge with a bolted belay. Oh yeah, it's honest 5.8, 100'.
P3 - this is the business (true 5.9). Most of it is wide, but most of the protection is not. All I can say is don't get tunnel vision at the crux, which has the 3rd bolt near it. If you are a runt like me, you can squeeze into the chimney after the crux and feel secure. If not, there are face climbing options on polished calcite. There are protection options deep in the chimney. This pitch is where I got to hear my German friend curse in two languages - it was awesome. You arrive at a 3 bolt anchor. 5.9, 3 updated protection bolts & gear, 110'.
P4 - you can either do 5.7 face with a hand or foot traverse right or the 5.similar chimney to the left. Definitely do the chimney if someone in your party is not a trad climber. You can easily watch them flail. This pitch is not too long compared to the 2nd and 3rd. There is a 2 bolt anchor just below the summit. You'll have to pee by now, so go ahead and get on the summit (on belay of course). 5.8, 80'.
The route does go into the shade mid to late afternoon. It can be blazing hot in the quiet sun to unpredictably cold in the shade and wind, so be prepared. This route can be incredibly popular with even foreigners queuing up. Fortunately, you can descend from most points quite easily.
We descended this thing in 3 raps. From the top anchor, rap to the end of the 2nd pitch (2 ropes). From there, go to the top of the 1st pitch. Then it's 90' to the start. You can rap this route with a 70m rope in 4 rappels (80', 105', 140' (with a short belayed downclimb), 90').
You can also rap the North Face in 3 rappels with double ropes.
Note: You can and should back-up every belay. Also, there is calcite all up and down this route. I hate calcite - except for one place where you agree with me.
A standard rack will work fine on this route to #4 Camalot; however, doubles may feel a bit heavy for 5.10 climbers. If you are a little squeamish, then you could bring Big Bros, #5-6 Friends, and/or color-coded 2x4s (reminiscent of the old days) cut to different lengths. There are three new bolts on the crux pitch, so don't despair. Bring 2 ropes to rappel.
Finally, two shoulder gear slings for the leader and belayer will be vastly more appreciated than having gear dangling off your harnesses.
Feel free to blow the exit moves on pitch three if you really want to. There is a good crack in the back of the chimney, and there is also a horizontal, both of which take small cams.
Big gear is basically just extra weight on the crux pitch, but there are several places, including just before and just after the crux, where you can place small cams behind chockstones. But definitely bring a number four friend or camalot for P2! I followed this pitch, and thought it was harder than the crux, which I led!
Descent: with two 200 foot ropes, you can rap the North face from bolted anchors in two raps (3 raps with 50-M ropes). This is also a good alternative if people are coming up the Kor route.
To provide balance to the two previous comments, I found the third pitch to be harder than the second (I led both a few days ago.) P2 is more sustained in difficulty, but the crux of P3 is more difficult than anything on P2.
Rack: 1 each cams blue TCU to #4 Camalot. Half set of nuts (every other one). Runners and QDs. I found this route to be considerably more difficult than the North Chimney.
By Andrew Gram Administrator From: Salt Lake City, UT Oct 31, 2001 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
I followed both pitches(I suck), but I found the second pitch much harder than the third. I hung a few times on the second, and really didn't think the third was that hard(and I always flail on wide 5.9). I did think the third is very beta intensive however-I watched my leader work through the crux for a *long* time, so I was armed with perfect beta for the move.
By George Bell From: Boulder, CO Nov 1, 2001 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
Ben, are you serious, why would you need to back up the belays on this route (bomber bolts)? It is a rap route, after all. And the calcite is great, it can be slippery, but it forms face holds which make the crux much easier. It also forms a hard layer which protects the softer sandstone. Would you rather be groveling up some sandy, flared, decomposing squeeze chimney?
George, it is a good practice to back-up a belay when you can. I also like to back-up the anchors on rappel and have the fat guy go first. I'll agree that most of the bolts on the Kor-Ingalls are pretty good, but you just never know. What can I say - I'm a safety nazi? Also, I've crowbarred bolts easily out of more solid sandstone in the SE US, so the softer stuff in Utah has my attention. Finally, one last thing I should mention to those of you climbing on this softer sandstone - don't lean outward on anchors here.
By George Bell From: Boulder, CO Nov 3, 2001 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
You're right it never hurts to be extra safe. True, it is sandstone, but I always think of Castleton as some of the most solid sandstone in Utah (particularly since it has that calcite layer). It's like granite compared to some of the other sandstone I've climbed on (like the Fischers)!
My partner and I hadn't even planned on climbing this when we did...but after being literally raced to the base of Ancient Art (our originally intended route) by another party who absolutely had to get there first, we decided to climb Castleton instead. Thinking we'd need big gear (#4.5 and #5 Camalots and/or Bigbros) which we'd left at home, we almost changed our mind. But as someone mentioned before, they would've only gotten in the way. I'd definitely bring a #3.5 and a #4 for the second pitch, and a screamer for at least one of the old bolts at the crux. I had also expected the crux to be a heinous grunt, but it turned out to be fun and pretty much all face climbing and stemming. I watched the second of the party in front of us try to climb the crux more like a chimney, falling multiple times. As for the second pitch, my partner thought it was harder than the crux, which I can see, as it's a bit tricky and more sustained. Regardless, it's definitely a fun route to an amazing summit in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
This climb is quite nice. I agree that at least up to a #3 camalot is good to bring. The third pitch really doesn't require much big gear. Leave the #5's and the Big Bros at home.
One more thing, stay near the outside of the chiminey on the last pitch. Although it is very easy, "the Deuce" Dawson and I had a humerous (for me) and painful (for him) experience. The Deuce was leading and decided to climb too far into the chiminey. Before he realized it, the chimney was too tight to slide out of and constricted above his head. The only way out was to go back down. The Deuce began a groveling slide back down when a #3 cam got wedged between a flake and his balls. "AAAGGHHH !!*#*!%*!&!!!!!!" hollered the Deuce. Five minutes later, now thouroghly castrated, he reclimbed the deceivingly simple chimney. Apparently I did not learn from the Deuce's misfortune, and I found myself sliding back down to reclimb the outtermost lip of the chiminey. My big head and butt could not be mashed down enough to fit through the constriction at the top. Once again, don't go too deep into the chimney on the last pitch. While it may be completely obvious to everyone else, give your balls a break.
In response to Aaron's comment about the pro on pitch three:
After clipping the bolt at the crux of the pitch, there is no pro for the next 50 ft. to the top. The only possible gear would be a large big bro. One exception may exist however. I am told by a grizzled veteran of the desert that there does exist deep in the recesses of the crack a small Alien placement. It's supposed to be somewhere behind the big chockstone that one stands upon after completing the crux.
Totally wrong! 1) you can back up the last bolt w/ a small alien behind a chockstone; 2) just after completing the crux, there is another small alien behind a chockstone (seemed pretty good) 3) I seem to remember a fixed sling somewhere after the crux, though I'm not sure. 4) after getting into the final chimney before the belay, there is a crack running up the back (on the left) which will yet again take small camming units, a bit blind but seemingly good, and finally 5) before commiting to the exit move out of the chimney onto the belay ledge, a horizontal crack offers a good small/medium friend.
Many of these placements are difficult to make, but worthwhile if you are feeling insecure (e.g., I placed the alien to back up the bolt, but clipping it was a bitch, so I ended up just going for it, but it certainly can be done).
Take it from someone who was challenged by the pitch!You don't need to be a grizzled vet to see these placements, they're not that hidden...
A little argumentative there AC. I thought the point here was to relate OPINIONS based on our own personal EXPERIENCE with the route. I'm glad you sewed it up. If I'd have fallen from the top of the pitch I would have taken a 120 footer.
"after clipping the bolt at the crux, there is no pro for the next 50 feet to the top. The only possible gear would be a large big bro."
No disrespect, but you offered that as fact, not opinion, as if it were obvious and beyond debate. But it's just not true! Fact is, there are several good placements that would probably hold a fall, particularly the ones near the end of the pitch (well beyond the rumored site of the legendary alien) are very good and not difficult to place. While admittedly we're not talking about firing in friends at Indian Creek, I think it's very misleading to suggest with an authoratitive tone that a fall will likely result in a hundred-plus footer. If I had read your comment before doing the climb I'm sure I never would have done it!
I'm sorry to sound so argumentative, but I think you do people (particularly 9+/10- leaders) a disservice by being so dismissive of the possibilities for gear. When you lead well above the grade of a pitch, it's easy to overlook stuff like that.
Charles, You are right. I didn't expect any gear besides the big bros so I didn't look for it. If it hadn't been cold, maybe I wouldn't have minded spending 5 min placing one, but I just kept climbing instead. Message to all future ascentionists: There is good pro. Do this route.
I would also agree that P2 seemed a bit harder to lead. The climbing wasn't really all that hard, just kinda awkward or something. I had to hang twice on it, but did P3 without too much trouble. There is pretty good gear on P3 after the bolt, mostly TCU's. I also placed a couple big cams on the OW section, and used a couple screamers for the bolts. Very fun route though.
An interesting follow-up to Chris and my little spat above: a friend of mine (who has been a solid, safe trad leader for many years and done many alpine and other "adventure" routes--however, this was his first tower attempt) took a 60 foot fall onto the topmost bolt on this crux pitch!! He hadn't placed any gear after the bolt--I don't know whether he noticed the small cam placements and ignored them, or didn't notice them, as he just told me over e-mail.
All I can say is, look for those gear placements at the top of that final chimney, they are definitely solid and will make the 60 footer a 2-10 footer. Incidentally, he was unhurt, aside from bruises & cuts!
Rapping - you can rap the route with a single 60m. Green's guide is ambiguous about this, but it will definitely (but just barely) reach. Use appropriate judgement regarding other parties on the route.
A few comments... first, what is up with pitch 1?? that's the hardest 5.4 squeeze chimney I've ever seen. Both my partner and I should pitch 3 was definitely more difficult and sustained than P2. P3 protection above the bolt was clipping a ratty sling and then a yellow alien in the back of the final squeeze chimney.
The screw oval at the top of P3 is OPEN and BENT - DO NOT USE. We rapped off a leaver biner, but I fear for the party that doesn't notice the condition. It should definitely be replaced.
By George Bell From: Boulder, CO Sep 29, 2003 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
Myke, are you sure you went the easiest way on pitch 1? I recall moving up and right, then back left into the main line of the crack (up an easy chimney). It couldn't have been too bad because I have free soloed this pitch, and I am a wimp without a rope.
No need for the 4.5 or 5 Camalot, but 2 #4s for the second pitch is helpful. Many placements for smaller cams along the route. The crux of the third pitch is a bit tricky, but all there. Look for holds on the white calcite section. Several smaller holds lead to two bomber hand holds only a few feet past the crux. There ae two more bolt inside the crack. After that, there are plenty of spots for small cams up to the belay. Easy to find good pro, but don't pass up any opportunites to put something in. I never used any nuts, nor the aforementioned large Camalots .
RAPPEL: We rapped down the north side in 2 raps with 2 60m 8.8s. This rappel is dead vertical and kind of spooky to start, so pay attention!
Regarding first pitch, I believe we encountered two chimneys... the first down lower which is shown as 5.8 (and about right by my estimate) in the Bjornstad guidebook and as 5.7 in the Supertopo, and a second chimney a bit higher which is the 5.4 chimney we all hear about. I believe the lower chimney is avoidable by heading right around it, up a crack which, according to the Green guidebook goes at 5.5. Please note that I've said "I believe" twice here. I stayed in right most crack on the second pitch and got good pro, and found TCU placements inside the offwidth on P3. We used two ropes, a 60m and a 50m, and made three raps. Only one party was in front of us and they bivied at the base, and only one party followed us... everyone else, a steady line, was on the North Chimney!
The Falcon Guide to Utah claims you can rap the North Face in 4 100 foot raps. We used a 70 meter rope which did not make it from the 1st to 2nd rap station. It made it to a protected ledge about 20 feet above the next rap station. We delicately rapped off a conveniently placed bolt, leaving a locker to get the next rap station. We did pass a 2 bolt anchor w/o chains before the 1st rap station. We may have not used the correct rap line off the North Face. Anyone know if there is another rap line we should have taken?
By Max Schon Apr 20, 2004 rating: 5.9-5c17VI16HVS 4c
Did this 4.17.04. Gear suggestions are always relative, but if you're a solid 5.10 climber then you won't need very much gear. I didn't bring anything bigger then a 3.5 Friend and I did wish, when I was 15 feet above my last piece on pitch 2, that I had a #4 Camalot. Otherwise, a single set of cams is plenty. The first bolt on pitch 3 sticks out about an inch. The other two bolts are decent. There is a ratty sling after the last bolt on pitch 3. Other then a brief bit of squeezing at the beginning and end of pitch 3, I stemmed the whole crux. Two 60 meter ropes will get you down the north face (you actually are rappelling down Castles Buring, not the North Face). If you only have one 60 meter rope, I think you want to rap to the bomber anchors at the beginning of the bolt line).
Unrelentingly wide and polished and containing a suprising amount of loose rock, K/I is the worst climb on Castleton. It's hard to believe the numerous parties who queue up for this route actually enjoy the climbing. If you're looking for wide, the offwidths and chimneys on West Face, North Chimney, Arrowhead, Burning Sun and even North Face are all more enjoyable than K/I's.
This climb seemed a lot easier and more fun when I first did it in 1982.
Climbed it on 2/13/06. I carried doubles in BD #.5-#4 & 1-#5 with 1-60m rope. Be sure you knot the ends of your rope for the rappels. Last rappel on 1st pitch does not reach the ground, so you have to down climb 2 or 3 moves to get to the bottom. An excellent route, but not for a beginning offwidth climber. The veiws are superb from the top. Climb in the winter and avoid the crowds.
By Mark Michaels From: Draper, UT Oct 16, 2006 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a PG13
I concur with others that say large gear is dead weight on this one. I #4 camalot might work on the 2nd pitch, but I recall sewing it up with smaller gear. There is adequate protection in the 3rd pitch chimney, including a small cam or medium nut in the very back just below the top. Miss that last placement and you'll be trembling on the awkward, exposed finish. I thought there was more dirt and loose rock by far on the N. Chimney.
eric i couldn't agree more. but you don't have to got over to the rectory or sister superior for a better route just walk around the tower to the north face.
By Boissal From: Small Lake, UT Apr 7, 2008 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a PG13
There are definitely 2 "chimneys" on P1, the first one is a hard squeeze , quite tight and slick as f*** because of the calcite drips (5.8 for sure) and the second wider with feet (lots easier). If you go around the block to avoid the 1st one, watch the rope drag and be ready for some insecure moves and a bit of a run out. Overall, P1 = meh. P2 is awesome! I still can't stay in the main crack (wide, might have to walk the #4) and have to do a hard bouldery traverse into the double crack to the right after climbing about a body length. Sweet lieback/hands with great gear but increasingly slick feet until you can snag a horn that will drop about 2" when you weigh it... Gets your heart running but it's solid. P3 is sick, quite spooky but there are only a few insecure moves on bolts and a bunch of solid small pieces in between (I placed #1 & #2 C3s and .4 & .75). Leave your large pieces and doubles at the belay, rack on the sides so you don't get too tangled in the offwidth, clip a slung block, do a couple hard moves to dive in the squeeze and get back out after the 3rd bolt. Good crimps on the calcite, wide stem between the arete and the left face, lots of air all around you, a few hard insecure moves and you can be back to the safety of the squeeze. Another exciting moves get you out to the belay. The last pitch is short but great, another chimney off the belay for good measure then a sweet flake with great gear brings you to the top. Rap the North Face with 2 60m (watch the ends, the 2nd rap is long) and check out the route, it looks stellar. But burly.
I actually would disagree about the exposure. There wasn't any spot that I noticed. Each belay is at a nice ledge. I agree that the first squeeze chimney is pretty dang hard! We moved up the very back of it and LB up the edge of the block. This seemed to be easier. (I actually dislocated my knee on this pitch and thought really hard about lowering down, but I kept going without leading any other pitches). The crux 3rd pitch proved to be darn tough. I was told by someone that the crux can be easily stemmed and that there were huge jugs on both sides the whole way up. I did not find this to be true. There were a few jugs on the left side only. To get to them I had to make some committing crimp moves on slippery calcite (I found that stuff more annoying than helpful). The jugs pulled me far enough to the left that I couldn't get a good stem. At least this part was quick. The pro. was pretty much the bolt until just past the crux. Small gear was found deep in the chimney but not until after the crux (a bit runnout). I also don't know why this is the "classic" route (maybe just the history). The climbing itself isn't all that special. I have been told that the North Chimney and North Face routes are WAY better! Still glad I did it though. But I would not repeat it.
By George Bell From: Boulder, CO Dec 26, 2008 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
The easiest way to climb the crux is using stemming, exactly because there are no huge jugs. Some small calcite face holds make it possible to move your feet up the stems. Also, there is no hard offwidth on pitch 1 if you go the easy way. I've done this route twice and would gladly repeat it many more times. I don't see what so many people are unhappy about.
By westy From: Loveland, Co Mar 20, 2009 rating: 5.95c17VI17HVS 5a R
Well...Did the route and glads its over. I love those desert ratings... Crazy chimney fest is the best to describe it. I led the crux and I guess I was in the moment, because I clipped the bolt with a sewn sling and made myself fit into the armpit of hell. After using my toes to move myself bit by bit, I popped out just below the anchors. I didnt even know I passed the crux. But in fair opinion, this route is a good one, it runs you out and wears you down. Not for the faint hearted. Thought the trail to get there above the cliff bands are more of a concern due to the lack of traction with the "ball bearing" sand and stones. Note: Top needs new summit book and pen. And the first pitch belay station should have all the slings cut off and replaced with new one. (I put a 7 mil cord on for a comfort rap.) Might be back.... :0)
as noted above - we also encountered two chimneys in the first pitch. I went way deep in to use the crack to protectand ended up walking up my #4 to the top and pulled it so my partner didn't have to go in as deep. Calcite makes for slick chimneys - but I think I would still recommend not going all the way in on the first chimney and just run it out.
physically and mentally works you - loved and cussed every move
Did 'Kor-Ingalls' 6/9/09...never climbed anything like it! The off-widths would have been fine had there been no calcite, but the slippery-ness made it ruthless...tough to get good gear placements on the calcite as the cams were sliding around and not very sound...used a #4 big bro on pitch three that was essential for us. Thought the 5.9 grade was pretty damn sandbagged, but i'm not an experienced off-width climber so it may be dead on. This route is definitely full value and no pitches should be blown off, even the "5.6" first pitch (no way in hell is that chimney 5.6). Anyways, have fun and it's definitely worth a do!
By jmeizis From: Colorado Springs, CO Jun 15, 2009 rating: 5.95c17VI17HVS 5a PG13
I climbed both the North Chimney and K-I on the same day back in April. The climbs are honestly like twins both formed from the same crack running through the entire formation it seems. K-I gets sun most of the day and was fairly sustained but I never felt like the moves got past 5.8. The questionable bolts on the infamous crux pitch had other gear nearby and were therefore not as scary as I thought they would be.
North Chimney on the other hand didn't feel very sustained but the cruxes were pretty in my face. It was also cold and windy on that side of the formation, probably better to climb it on a hot day. I also never felt any of the moves got above 5.8 although it was a little strenuous and awkward at the beginning of each pitch. I lead the second pitch since I got the classic pitch on K-I and that spinning sheet metal hanger with not other gear in made me nervous. I might have gotten a little tunnel vision because I didn't see any other gear for a while and was practically pissing my pants.
All in all I'd say both climbs are in the 5.8+/5.9- area. The crux of K-I is more technical I felt and was two moves that I could say felt 5.9. The North Chimney was just thuggery and the moves were mostly difficult in that I had to squeeze my little ass up there with my knees by my ears half the time. K-I is higher quality in some ways but much more crowded. Although when I climbed it we actually ended up waiting for two parties on the North Chimney and we only had to wait for one on K-I.
Liz Wattenberg and I (local ASCA) replaced two of the anchors and the two lead bolts with half inch stainless yesterday. No need to carry tat now. We also put a new log book on the summit as the others were pretty full. Sam
Thanks for the new anchors. The first is in a better place, much safer looking than on the block. Long chains... heavy eh? The bolts on the third were classic to tighten by hand in the past, but the new bolts make it less sketch. When we headed up there was a cut rope on the third pitch, locked into the block where you get your squeeze on. I think the new anchors are not in the perfect spot. The spot the other anchors were in , (just to the right)was good for the pull. Our rope fell into the chimney also but popped through. Now climbable with one 70m rope. Thanks again your time and work on this. eo
I had to place the anchors in that spot cus the location for the old ones is a slab that is hollow. I tapped it with the hammer and it rattled, so I moved them. This was the best location with solid rock.
Glad you posted about the rope on the third pitch...blue one right. Yup it tis mine. It got stuck, and and I did the pitch again. (after climbing the Ancient Art in the morning then the North Chimney) I barely threw down the pitch and pulled it loose. Then rapped back down. This time super careful, and as you saw it got stuck again. BAHH it was getting dark, but I headed up the route again and couldn't make it. I bailed after 3 placements and we were forced to cut the rope on a rock. The rope was a 70 meter, and we had just barely enough to finish decent. Learning experience for more than just us I hope. Cheers
Here is a little bolt/sandstone relationship evolution:
WHen you place a bolt, or multiple bolts, on a slap or a horizontal band of rock, you set a hole into the rock for water to travel. This then allows freeze-thaw, or just plain old water-softening, of the rock at a level beneath the surface. This then makes the bolts perhaps solid, but the rock itself very suspect.
This process had no doubt happened to the hollow slab where the previous anchor was. IT is very hollow and probably wasn't so when the original anchor went in.
The section of rock I chose was based on the solidness of the stone and the angle of the rock it was in... which was essentially vertical. Clearly I could see that this was directly above the crack. However, the main use of this anchor is for getting up the rock, not down... there is already a rap anchor for double rope raps on both the south side and the north side of the tower. As this was the most solid bit of rock, I felt I had to use it. Placing the anchor on the slab would have been very irresponsible. Again, the creation of this newer, improved anchor was not to create a single rope rap but to replace the aged, weakening anchor for upward ascent.
I placed these two bolts in very hard stone that is vertical to overhanging, thus keeping most of the water from flowing into the rock. It was the best option in the given space and stone. Hopefully they will be there for a very long time.
we went to Kor-ingalls on March-20th 2010.I led pitch1 and pitch4, I feel more difficult than that grade. But that route was so great! We have few nice offwidth route in Japan.I'd like to come back here this September. We needed a few #6camalots or friends in all pitches without the last.
Just did this route again for the first time in years - such a great route! The crux on pitch 3 is sporting two bomber bolts so no need for wide gear - single set of cams including a 3.5 and 4 camalots and a handful of medium to large nuts is all you need. With 2 60m ropes you can get down the N. Face in two raps - the seconds is a full 60m.
Awesome route, a must do. Classic in that old school Yosemite sense. Definitely on my top 3 list. And all the warm, soft November sunshine didn't hurt. I hauled up a #5 C4 that was great for pitch 2, but was never used on pitch 3. Instead, it's bulkiness only managed to make the crux that much more difficult. I agree with some of the other posters, the biggest gear you need is definitely 1 (maybe 2) #4 C4's. Overall, I found this climb to be comprised of more chimneys than offwidths. Technically, this climb doesn't have a move harder than 5.9. However, this climb will wear you down so that the moves on the second half will feel harder. And the third pitch is one of the most enjoyable pitches I've done anywhere.
For the crux, I tried to offwidth, but couldn't get past that tricky bulge (I was just too damn tired and for the life of me my feet didn't want to stem). After about 15 minutes of offwidthing and going nowhere, I thought I was going to fail from exhaustion when Layton Kor's ghost appeared and I aided off the bolt past the crux. It's a lot easier that way wink*wink. Also, it was an incredible feeling standing in a sling out on the face and looking down at all the open air around me. Next time, I'll just layback that section.
After the crux, if you're skinny like me you can squeeze inside the chimney and use the crack that runs up the back. I think I used a #1 C3 and a .75 C4. Also, at this point the chimney starts to sprout good hands and feet. My partner couldn't make the squeeze and had to stay outside for the rest of the pitch.
The comments on this route seem to be all over the place. I'll weigh in my opinion also. Great route and totally well protected. I almost left the #5 and #6 in the pack, but a couple Moab locals told me to take them. Wow, glad I did. This route would be very dangerous without at least a #4 Camalot. The bigger pieces were not "necessary" but I was glad to have them and placed them both on all 4 pitches. The #6 will fit in the crack at one key section of the 3rd pitch. The bulkiness of the large cams might have bothered my 2nd, but honestly the cams spent too much time in the rock to get in my way! I'd describe myself as confident/solid on 5.9 offwidth and chimneys, but not so confident that I don't want good pro. People saying things like "large cams only get in the way" or "the 3rd pitch is crazy run out" are all wrong IMO. If you bring a full rack on the climb you will have body-length gear at all times.
By Hoag From: Littleton, CO Nov 25, 2011 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
An amazing experience!
This route was more difficult than I thought it would be due to the OW and the calcite. Being able to smear in an OW crack is important and the calcite covered sandstone made this a little difficult. However, on the crux pitch I found that there were enough face features on calcite covered walls to edge and make my way through.
The experience at the top is second to none. Alpine style climbing with a view like that of the dessert is something special. Whichever route you choose, you need yo get yourself to the top of Castleton Tower.
Pete Gallager and I made the first flight of an un-manned, wind -powered device off the summit in the late 70's.Yep, a $1 HI-Flyer paper kite that we left there for others to enjoy. Just enough wind to make it pretty wild ..Peace,Larry Schubarth
By Lyont72 From: Foco, CO Apr 6, 2012 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
This past month took another trip on my spring break and climbed Castleton Tower . . . check it out.
P1 - First chimney isn't that bad if you go all the way inside. When the slickness becomes a problem, just grab the inside corner edge (where the other chimney intersects) and jam your foot in the crack on the outside corner of the two intersecting chimneys. Ratchet-ratchet.
P2 - 2 guidebooks descriptions & topos talked about 2 cracks, so I was confused with seeing 3 options. I tried the middle crack, which was a tricky & wide #4 Camalot Crack. After I saw my cam slide down the crack as I yanked on it to test the placement, I lost my nerve on that option and stepped over to the right-most set of cracks (double cracks). These were much better! That is until I got to a projecting block that you have to pull on. I was halfway over it when it started moving, so I immediately retreated, and stepped back left where the middle crack was a more manageable size and had some constrictions to stop a cam from sliding. I carefully face climbed around the loose blocks to the left and battled the now bad rope drag to the anchors. I almost say this pitch was harder than P3. It at least was less secure in moves & pro and had worse fall potential!
P3 - Took me a while of trying to get my hips through the tightest part of the offwidth before I relented and followed the faceholds on the outside. Wild stemming on calcite. Don't slip! Chimney is a breeze and there is a finger crack that goes all the way up on the inside.
P4 - Starts loose but quickly gets better. Straightforward & has good pro.
BTW, is that "In Case of Emergency" tuna can in the register still safe to eat? ;-)
By Lyont72 From: Foco, CO May 2, 2012 rating: 5.10a6a18VI+18E1 5a
Mark P Thomas
"BTW, is that "In Case of Emergency" tuna can in the register still safe to eat?"
By Ryan Strong From: Golden, CO May 2, 2012 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
I believe it's actually sardines. Mediterranean olive oil flavor.
By Dwight Jugornot From: Arvada, Co. Sep 20, 2012 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a R
Oh gawd... another gear opinion, really? TAKE THE #5. Everytime I placed the #4 it was seriously tipped-out. I would actually rather have the #5 than the #4. P3 was tougher than p2 onnacounta it was super (40 ft.) runout. Good route for the historic value, and pushy moves. This route is an old-school baddass nine, and no pro for 40 ft. on p3. I gave it an "R". I am all done crying now.
Gear Found On Kor-Ingalls Sunday October 28th. I was climbing at Castleton this weekend and witnessed a horrific site. Around 3:00 on Saturday a Climber fell on P. 2 on K.I. and hit the ledge above pitch 1. We were at the base and saw/heard the fall. Initially we stayed around the base to offer our help in anyway. The parties called for a rescue and had a Chopper come in for a pickup. We watched this ordeal from the base of K.I. for 2 hours before deciding to go down, having spoken with the injured party who assured us help was on the way. Anyway, I hope first and foremost the climber is okay, it was a bad fall. We climbed K.I. the next day Sunday were we retrieved some gear left on the climb. We would like to get this back to its rightful owners. If you left gear on K.I. Satrurday 10/27/12 I have it and would like to return the gear as well as get the details as from our vantage the rescue seemed Epic.
By Simon Hatfield From: Oakland, CA Nov 21, 2012 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
Be ready for a stout, insecure, P3 crux that is well protected by an excellent bolt. Found this move harder than anything on Open Book, "the" 5.9.
By Charlie S From: Ogden, UT Mar 17, 2013 rating: 5.106b20VII-19E2 5b
When reading these comments, I thought that people claiming it was harder than 5.9 were soft.
Well, I was wrong. Expect to be pushed!
Also, double racks was too much gear. I took a #5, which was placed on all the pitches except the 3rd pitch.
Gear that I used: 1 Black Alien (directional on top of P3) 1 Yellow Alien 1 Red Alien 1 Red Metolius (for building an anchor at the top, not necessarily needed) 1 BD #.5 1 BD #.75 1 BD #1 1 BD #2 1 BD #3 1 BD #4 1 BD #5 A few draws and cordelette.
First let me say that although I am a pretty strong face climber, I have very little experience and even less technique regarding desert towers and offwidths, in particular. That said, this route was truly spectacular, totally memorable, and holy canoli HARD! Pitch two was tough, sustained, and a little scarce on pro...but nothing cray. Pitch three was definitely the business. The three bolts are all new and solid. The first protects a mini crux. Our biggest piecr was a #4 cam, but that was not the issue. The biggest crux came just above the 2nd and 3rd bolts where the crux is about 15 inches wide...no cam will fit...too big to protect or jam and too small to chimney. I grunted, cussed, bled, and fought up that crux like no other. About 6 feet above the last bolt I was able to place a #3 cam...after testing the bolt when I fell trying to use friction on the calcite...comical! After a 10 foot runout of unprotected offwidth I was able to get into the chimney when it widened and place 2 more small pieces deep in the crack on the left...before more runout to the anchors. This view was the most amazing thing imaginable. Finally, we were able to rap down the entire route safely with a single 70 meter rope...no problems...whew!
By Ralph Swansen From: Denver CO Apr 6, 2013 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a PG13
I was very glad to have doubles of 2-3-4 and YES THE #5! which I placed several times as well as the small stuff. Stout climb not for the budding 9 leader. The third pitch protection is PG 13 to me, a bit runout after the crux.
By Br'er Rabbit From: The Deeper South Apr 9, 2013 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
As of 4/6, the first new bolt had been pulled out of the rock a good ways....I clipped it anyway and walked my #6. Yes, my #6.
Also, we got down in two 70M rappels. From the top to the top of the 2nd pitch. From the top of the 2nd pitch to the ground.
By paul bucher From: moab, utah May 7, 2013 rating: 5.10-6a18VI+18E1 5a
many of the above comments are exactly why i don't usually climb at places like here and the creek. that said, anyone that just wants BETA and wants to skip the BS; feel free to contact me direct. i'd be happy to help best i can.
By Benjaminadk From: Lake George, NY May 12, 2013 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
This climb was totally unlike anything I have ever done. I had never been in a squeeze chimney or heard of calcite. Actually this was the first route I did in utah. It was pretty awkward, yet strangely secure as I found my 6'4" 200lb body stuffed into cracks like a piece of fixed gear many times. Used a #5 camalot on every pitch. Third pitch crux is really exciting face climbing with your back to the bolt. A couple committing moves on calcite to a jug and a couple more moves to back to the chimney for gear and its over. I got small cams in not far from the crux and a total of 8 pieces between the last bolt and the anchor. This thing can be sewn up. The views from the top are unreal and a deserving reward for the hike up and physical climbing enroute. An experience I won't be forgetting.
By Jordan Hirro From: Colorado Springs/Glenwood Spri Oct 2, 2013
Finally ticked this off on the 26th of September and had the whole thing to ourselves! Let me just say this...don't under estimate it. Sure, it's a classic, and everyone does it, but don't think it's a walk in the park. Howeveerrr, don't let that stop you. Give it a shot! It's way too much fun to not try it. If you have problems, there's rap stations at every pitch...just go and give it your safest best and send like you can! Go have fun on the arguably most iconic tower in desert existence. Bring singles from a BD .3 to 2, (even though I don't recall placing a single .75 or 1 - but who knows -) and doubles in 3s and 4s. When you get into the chimney past the bolts, and you look up and see absolutely nowhere to protect, don't fret; I plugged in a blue alien and a yellow C3 in a crack on the main wall side of the chimney. After that you're golden. Have fun!
We did the route with a 60m rope. When you access the route by walking around the east side of the tower (go up to the ridge and boulder up the ledge, then go left and duck through a short passage) you can start the route from a big ledge a few meters above the actual start. You can repel the route in four repels and end on this ledge with a 60m rope.
By Jason James From: Orem, UT Jan 30, 2014 rating: 5.9+5c17VI17E1 5a
Just climbed this in a party of 3 on Jan 18th. High was in the low 40's so the temp wasn't bad at all. We had doubles of up to a #4. I leap frogged a #4 on p2. Great climb! First tower, first multipitch, and first time jugging. We ended up rapping back down kor ingalls because we had to retrieve a jacket that fell of a pack. 2 60ms got us to the top of p2 then top of p1, then the ground. Great day!
Did this route - followed - on 3-12-14. I considered it quite funky but an excellent, worthwhile experience.
I give the following comments so others like me can gauge what to expect.
These days, I'm mostly a gym climber from the DC area and lead fairly solid 5.10 face and buckety type routes once I get a few days into a trip. I haven't done offwidths, chimneys, or even much crack for that matter, for decades, several decades. (Yes I'm getting up there in age.)
Even though I never came close to falling on any ptich, I found KI hard; this was undoubtedly due to my thoroughly solid lack of technique, exacerbated from arriving from sea level only 1.5 days earlier (Castleton is 6,600+ ft). This made the beautiful approach feel a bit strenuous.
The squeeze chimney on the first pitch is ridiculously slippery, and I found myself facing the wrong way and off-widthing up the back of it. The problem is that it is so tight back there, it's hard to move one's feet up. The cracks of the second pitch felt fine, and one can avoid pulling hard on the loose block by doing some face and jam moves. The third pitch climbs well if you start off facing the cliff, stay out of the chimney, and stem/face climb the calcite, which has a friction coefficient similar to snot. As I neared the top, I had to turn around and chimney with may back to the cliff, before exiting out onto the block with some layback and foot smears. It all felt OK to second, but I was glad I did not lead these pitches.
For me, the chimney moves were thuggish and on them I sometimes had to catch may breath after only a few moves. Part of it was mental: I spent a lot of time thinking because in the back of my mind, if I couldn't make the move feel secure and relatively easy, I felt I must be doing something wrong. But the bottom line is that this type of climbing requires full body exertion, unlike the stufff that merely puts a little pump on your forearms.
So overall, I think 5.9+ is the right grade. Have fun!