The Castle Rock Climbing
|GPS:||39.311, -105.381 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
|Page Views:||18,439 total · 101/month|
|Shared By:||Richard M. Wright on Jan 27, 2003|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac|
DescriptionThe Castle is a stupendous crag on the northern limits of the South Platte, and while it may more properly belong to the Lost Creek Wilderness area, it is usually cobbled together with other Buffalo Creek crags. This is a magnificent piece of granite that has seen ascents for close to half a century and remains today a flagship crag from the glory days of the early '70s. The Castle looms over Wellington Lake like some feature out of a Transylvanian nightmare - except to a climber it looks a lot more like paradise than hell.
Most of the climbing is on the North and South-facing plates and cracks and is best tackled in warm weather. The rock itself is immaculate South Platte granite with a bit of Devil's Head features thrown in. It is well-featured with moderate crack systems running up to six pitches up the crag. Most of the described routes, fewer than ten, take the obvious crack systems, although some of the described lines do have complex route finding problems. As near as we could tell, none of the well-featured face routes have ever been done, and one suspects that The Castle overall could hold at least ten times as many routes as have been described. Many of the established crack routes dish out sections that get pretty wide and for that reason see little traffic, but some are also excellent hand and finger-sized. For example, we found a superb, un-named line that went mostly at 5.9/5.8 with a pitch of 10a that never got unpleasantly wide and sucked up pro like a tornado.
All of the descents from the top are walkoffs North or South with the South being a bit more convenient for most of the routes in the main, central feature. Nonetheless, it is possible to rap some of the cleanest cracks after only one or two pitches and still get your rope back. In fact, the first pitch of "The Throne Room" may be one of the best, long 5.9 cracks in the South Platte, can be rapped from a ledge at 150 feet, and stays in the range of the standard rack (biggest piece is a #4 Friend).
Early in the year the lake is swamped by fishermen, boats, and noisy children; however, if you hold off until after Labor Day, the mid to late fall season will deliver an experience that is as good as it gets on planet Earth.
Getting ThereFirst, find Wellington Lake on the map. It is South and East of Bailey. Coming in from Bailey is far and away the easiest way in to the crag. Coming either East or West on US 285, in the center of Bailey and just at the bottom of Crow Hill, locate the dirt road leading to Wellington Lake and the Castle Mountain recreation area. The way is well marked with signs, but folows first FR 543 and then FR 550. The lake and some of the surrounding land is private, but not (sic) the crag which is bisected by public land and the Lost Creek Wilderness. The best way to handle climbing seems to be to grab a picnic spot for the day.
The Castle Mountain Recreation Company owns the camping/picnic spots and they charge a modest fee ($4.00) for a single day and a bit more to stay overnight. The fee has increased to $9/person/day!
Per Tyson Ferryman: as of 2014, the day use is $5 per person and $5 for your car.
The crag is the obvious huge "Castle" South of the lake, and to minimize the approach try getting a spot as close to the crag as possible, since under the best of circumstances the hike up will take close to an hour. We found a trail for the return trip but did not locate it on the approach until nearly at the crag. Bushwhacking is straightforward, however.
Classic Climbing Routes at The Castle
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season