Castle Valley is the place to go for your baptism into desert towers. This area is one of the birthplaces of tower climbing. Maybe you've heard of the Kor-Ingalls Route, listed on the 50 North American Classic climbs? Other climbs that should be done before you become too old and fat to climb are Honeymoon Chimney, Jah Man, and Fine Jade.
Overall, the rock is as good as desert sandstone (Wingate) gets, but beware of the slippery white calcite coatings found on much of the rock here. Most routes start at honest 5.9.
These directions are from Moab. Basically, the turn-off for Castle Valley is about 20 miles NE of Moab off SH 128 (River Road). Look for the sign for Castle Valley. To do anything on the Priest, Rectory, or Castleton Tower, take the Castle Valley turn-off (see here for a photo)
Go about 4.7 miles on the Castle Valley road, and then turn left on a noticeable dirt road. Go until you can't anymore.
For Sister Superior, go about another mile up 128 (i.e., not taking the Castle Valley turn-off) and look for a dirt road (obviously on the right since the left will send you towards the Colorado River). See here for a photo of the turnout, which may also be seen from above here.
Hey, just look for stuff and figure out how to get there. Its not like there are tons of trees blocking your view. In both cases be prepared to walk. Look for climbers trails as much as possible to avoid trampling any cryptobiotic soil.
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/chimne...[more]Browse More Classics in UT
Access to Castleton is restricted by private property now. You need to look for a rough road to the west of the old turn-out and the approach is much longer. If we continue to use the old appraoch we run the risk of pissing off the locals and loosing all access.
could you elaborate, please? What is the private property/access situation exactly, and how long has it been in effect? I didn't notice any no trespassing signs last time I was there, and the sign at the trailhead was still up (in November). Is there a trail from the parking area you suggest? How about better directions? Has there been anything about this in the mags?
As some of the may know, the access lands and camping areas around Castleton Tower are currently threatened by development. In order to prevent this from happening, the Castle Rock Collaboration (www.castlerockcollaboration.org) was formed with the goal of finding a 100% conservation solution for this land. They have entered into an agreement to purchase the land around Castleton Tower, but now they need your help to raise the funds for this purchase. Any contributions you can make, however large or small, will be greatly appreciated. For more information, please visit their web site at: www.castlerockcollaboration.org
There's no standard on the site. When the type of cam isn't listed, I always assume friends since they've been around the longest and they correspond roughly to inches. A #3 Friend tips out at 3 inches. Most guide books use the friend convention too. Sometimes it's possible to figure it all out based on the type of crack under discussion. #4 cam in an offwidth discussion ususally means Camalot. #4 cam in a fist crack reference usually means Friend. It gets even more interesting when people specify the color of cams that you aren't familiar with. "Bring lots of yellow cams". The supertopo website has an excellent cam conversion chart which is helpful in matching up your rack to the beta. Regardless, I usually fatten up my rack with a few purchases and then steal my friend's rack before heading out. Then, I survey the cracks and make my own decisions before starting up.
From personal expierance castle valley is nearly unclimbable in the summer. Also it is well worth your time to find and stay on the trail. Bushwaching it is very hard and dangerous. Finally if you are bold/dumb enought to attempt it in the summer plan 1.5 gallons/person per day.
Just wondering, i am from the east coast and plan on climbing Castleton Tower on my spring break; are there any updated guides or topos that might cover access with respect to the current issues with Castle Valley? If not where is the Castle Valley climber's campground located? ThanksDerek
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Apr 26, 2006
For the apres-climb time, there is a terrific little winery with wine tasting just downstream along the River Road. Castle Creek Winery at Mile 14, Hwy 128 in the Red Cliffs Lodge. Reasonable prices. Chardonnay & the Merlot are particularly enjoyable.
My partner and I are headed down from WY in a couple weeks to Southern Utah we would love to jump on Castleton which we have never done, any advice? I have heard its best to park at the bottom of the rough road and start hiking at dawn to not have to wait in line...is that true? Any comments or tips would be great! Happy Climbing!
I drove down from Laramie years ago and got to the parking lot around 10pm. If its warm enough (you'll know if it is), its worthwhile to toss the sleeping bag in your pack and hike up to the base. The trail isn't difficult to find, and depending on the condition of the final 1/4 mile, it might make the trail's exposure easier to deal with. We made it to the base just after midnight, so we still got a solid 5-6 hours sleep before starting up the next day. There were some rock structures present to help block the wind as well, and since you're packing two ropes anyway, you can just lay out the tarp and sleep on them, old school mountaineer style. Plus, the ridge to the west blocks all the light from Moab, so you get a sky so dark that I could actually see color in the Milky Way.
Also, if you elect to do Kor-Ingalls, fight your Vedauwoo instincts. Climbed as a regular offwidth, it ain't 5.9.