Sunday, September 22, 2013

Castle Valley Climbing

Friday night after work, Austin and I headed down towards Moab to climb some desert towers.  The original plan was to climb Primrose Dihedrals on the Moses Tower in Canyons National Park, but after 40 minutes on a dirt road, it became obvious that reaching the tower was going to take a truck burlier than mine. So at 1AM we U-Turned and headed over to Castle Valley and finally got to sleep at 2:30-3AM.  By 7AM we were up and starting the long approach up to Castleton Tower. 

Castleton as seen from the truck.
Getting closer...
Finally reaching the ridgeline between Castleton and the Rectory

At the closest end of the Rectory tower sits a 5.11a climb called Fine Jade that ascends a 400 foot crack system up the narrow face.  That was our first objective.
Somewhere half way up, maybe at the top of P2.

 On top of the Rectory after finishing Fine Jade.  Castleton Tower in the background and the truck where we started our day somewhere down by the roads.

 Celebrating my first desert tower.  I saw a few old pieces of lumber on top when walking around and was curious what these might be from.  Apparently Bon Jovi shot a music video up there in 1990 and never cleaned up everything.

 This was our next objective.  A freestanding tower next to the Rectory called the Priest.  Later in the day we got some photos looking back towards where Austin is sitting from the top of the Priest.

 After rappelling down and walking back to the start of the route to get our gear and head to the Priest, we met a couple of other climbers just starting up Fine Jade.  Here they are on the first few moves of pitch #1.

 After climbing the Honeymoon Chimney, a 4 pitch "classic" that involves offwidth climbing, squeeze chimneys too narrow to take a deep breath, and 50 mph winds howling through, we reached the summit of the Priest.  That is me sitting on the summit with 400' of verticle separating us from the shadowed blocks in the background where Austin and I were sitting taking pictures of the Priest after finishing Fine Jade.  Castleton tower is also visible in the background.
 Panoramic view from the top of the Priest showing (from L to R) the Rectory, Castleton, then a big gap before seeing Parriot Messa, the Convent, and finally Sister Superior.

 Looking back towards Castleton from the top of the Priest.

 Rappelling down from the Priest.

 And finally packed up walking back to the truck before the flash flood warnings that just took effect pan out.

 The left detached tower is the Priest as seen over our shoulder on the walk home.

We had hoped to also climb the North Chimney of Castleton Tower but with impending weather and how tired I felt, we called it a day and headed back to SLC.