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TR: Castle Valley Linkup
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By Scott Bennett
Apr 18, 2011
photo by Forest Woodward

Here's a quick trip report that I wrote up of a recent full-day desert adventure, linking the five major towers of the Castle Valley ridge.

Castles in the Sand
Castles in the Sand


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By Erik W
From Bay Area, CA
Apr 18, 2011
North face of Ama Dablam - taken on approach to Kongma La.

Nice work, gents.


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By Austin Baird
From SLC, Utah
Apr 18, 2011
Me scaring years off my mom's life

Well done sir.


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By Scott Bennett
Apr 19, 2011
photo by Forest Woodward

I'd be really interested to hear about others that have done this linkup. Have you, or know someone who has? What routes did you do? What did you think was the crux?


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By Cor
Apr 22, 2011
black nasty

Nice job Mr. Bennett!

Also glad to see you made it home safe from South America,
we had some good festering time @ Apart Pyramid!

Cheers!
Cor


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By Chris O'Connor
From bouldertown, co
Apr 22, 2011

Awesome! Genius en-devour


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Apr 22, 2011
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

I thought I remember reading some climbing article about some guys linking ten routes along that ridge in one day... I think they were easier than the ones you guys were doing tho!


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By livinontheledge
From davis, ca
Apr 22, 2011

Scott Bennett wrote:
I'd be really interested to hear about others that have done this linkup. Have you, or know someone who has? What routes did you do? What did you think was the crux?


nice work...dont think i've ever heard of anyone doing value of audacity before...

5 years ago while on jah man i ran into a couple of durango guys en route to pulling a link up of the four first routes on your trip...they did it in reverse...jah man, honeymoon, fine jade, north face...they seemed pretty solid and best we could tell they finished it...they seemed to think the crux would be honeymoon (after running the ridge)

i've had that same (four route) linkup on my to do list now for a few years...


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By Charles Vernon
From Tucson, AZ
Apr 22, 2011

What I'd like to hear about is the 2/3 of the anchor that ripped while you were rapping and that Blake mentions so nonchalantly on the Middle Way page (and these were presumably new bolts!). How does *that* happen?!


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By fossana
From Boulder, CO
Apr 22, 2011
West Overhang

Thanks for the post. Great TR and blog.


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By chris Kalous
Apr 23, 2011
Me

Scott,

First of all, well-played, sir. Well-played, indeed.

Here's my story.

About ten years ago my friend Rob Van Aernum and I attempted a similar link up. We made the mistake of ending on Savior Chimney- the old Harvey Carter route. It was before Audacity existed and to our knowledge, the only free route to the top of the Convent. Info was not so readily available back then (thanks MP!). So we did all those great routes - North Face, Fine Jade, Honeymoon, Jah Man, and then we got to the Convent. The first pitch of the Savior Chimney went okay, but I pulled out two old ring pitons with my fingers while following. I started up into a gaping chimney that was covered in dry mud and after a while could hardly breathe from the dust and dirt. It was now getting dark, and though we had planned to climb in the dark, after I pulled out another piton, and my teeth started to crunch with dirt, Rob and I decided that this bullshit was going to ruin the great day we had so far and the top wasn't worth it. So we bailed and headed down to a car we had left in the valley below. Heading down the unfamiliar talus cone in the dark proved to be adventurous. We must have gotten cliffed-out 20 times before we made it down.

When I saw Audacity on MP a couple years ago, my first thought was "Oh, that would be the one to do in the link-up!" So good-on-ya.

Next on your list should be the Bridger Jack link-up. Rob and I have done it, and Noah Bigwood and Kennan Harvey did it. Others, too, no doubt. Kennan and Marco Cornacchione were a couple pitches shy a couple years earlier because of rain, but during their attempt, they did the second ascent of Sacred Space! Keep in mind that the prevailing style (started by Kennan and Marco) is to do the King of Pain twice because it has two summits. The badass link would be to do Sacred Space and Ziji in the series.

On a similar note: a couple years before our attempt on the Castle Valley link, I had hiked up and walked the base of the Convent just to have a look around for new routes (must have walked past the undone Audacity). There is a one pitch Indian Creek style route listed in the old Desert Rock book. I found it and climbed up on a ledge to put my hand in the start and found the anchor lying on the ground. Two baby angles connected by webbing to a rap ring. Kinda like when you find a thread lying below an ice climb in the spring. I used my binos to see if there was anything on top of the route and saw nothing. I can only guess that the wind whipping the webbing back and forth finally just vibrated out the angles.

Anyway, keep having fun out there. Big days like the one you devised are super-rewarding. Thanks for giving me a chance to relive mine!

Chris Kalous


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By Scott Bennett
Apr 23, 2011
photo by Forest Woodward

Charles-
yeah, that was funny. Convent was the last tower of the day, and we didn't really have beta on how to get down with a single 70m. So we found our way over to the route "Middle Way",rapped off a boulder wedged in the sand atop the route, and then rapped off a single (new) bolt, and finally reached a nice looking three-piece station- One new bolt and two big stoppers, all equalized with a big cordalette.
I think I even made some comment about how that was a nice change of pace.
Then, while figuring out how to make the final 40m rap, both nuts ripped out of the sandy cracks (!), and left us both hanging by the new bolt. I hastily fixed my end and rapped to the ground. Blake quickly followed by improvising a 10m pull cord out of slings, webbing, and cams.


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By Scott Bennett
Apr 23, 2011
photo by Forest Woodward

Chris, that's a great story!
Desert routes are so hit or miss, it certainly helps to have the internet to sort the good from the bad (from the stuff of sandy nightmare).

I think reading your comment even convinced us not to attempt that Chimney route. VoA is technically hard, but pretty strait-forward, and after the first pitch roof goes really quickly.

The Bridger link up, wow, would that be nine routes?! Sounds super fun, a much better ratio of climbing to walking than the Castle Valley.

The thing I most love about the big days is the potential for day-dreaming ahead of time, figuring out what to bring, where to start and end, if it's possible to stash gear, what sort of beer to drink afterwards... so many important questions.

-Scott


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By Scott Bennett
Apr 23, 2011
photo by Forest Woodward

Cory-
Great to hear from you, it was super fun poaching your wifi, coffee, and scrabble board down in Chalten! Let's get out and climb 'round here! I can often find free time Monday-thru-Thursday.
-Scott


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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Apr 23, 2011
OMG, I winz!!!

Awesome link up. Can't wait to have the skillz to do something like that.


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By Monty
From Golden, CO
Apr 23, 2011
Just a teaser

Great job! I think Pizem and someone did a link-up on the ridge, but instead of hitting the covent, they ran down after climbing jah man, got in there car and did ancient art in the fishers... But the convent sounds way more rad. Congrats.

What about some sort of a linkup in canyonlands?


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By Scott Bennett
Apr 23, 2011
photo by Forest Woodward

Don't know about Canyonlands, never climbed there. I can only imagine the rad big days you could piece together! Here's a link to an awesome story of a 7 day, 4 tower, human powered bike and climbing trip around the White Rim (with gorgeous photos!).


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By blakeherrington
Apr 26, 2011

A little movie of our day, with some footage of the self-destructing anchor - Castle Valley Linkup Movie


If someone knows how to make the video show up here, feel free.


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