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Castleton Tower
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North Face 

YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Ed Webster & Buck Norden 1979
Page Views: 22,774
Submitted By: Ben Folsom on Oct 25, 2001

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (140)
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Rich Schroeder on the 3rd pitch of the North Face ...


I've done this route a couple of times, the last time on New years eve just before the millenium. To reach, hike up to the base of Castleton and traverse left until you are directly below the North Face.

P1- Climb a perfect wide hands crack in a right facing dihedral to a thin lieback on white calcite up higher. Then climb up ledges to the belay ledge. (5.11b)

P2- Climb a very nice handcrack past a short wide section to nice ledge and the belay anchors. (5.10)

P3- Climb up nice wider cracks to the summit.

To descend, rappel the route. I have made it down in two long raps with 60 meter ropes. I think it is normally done in three rappels though. Another option is to rappel the Kor-Ingalls route, but it can be crowded and there is more of a chance of your ropes getting stuck.

From what I have been reading, I guess it's taboo to rappel the Kor-Ingalls route these days. When I first climbed Castleton, there was no fixed gear on the North Face to rap from. That N. face rappel is nice and quick and easy though, so I guess that is the accepted way now.


2 sets of Camalots with extra #3. A set if stoppers.

Photos of North Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rob finishing up the first pitch.
Rob finishing up the first pitch.
ummmmm.....green camalot. Josh Thompson Onsighting...
ummmmm.....green camalot. Josh Thompson Onsighting...
Manny from AZ leading the 3rd Pitch.  Age 54, 2 ye...
Manny from AZ leading the 3rd Pitch. Age 54, 2 ye...
Pitch 2 of the North Face
Pitch 2 of the North Face
The first pitch.
The first pitch.
3rd pitch, N.Face.  Manny the Man from AZ.
3rd pitch, N.Face. Manny the Man from AZ.
Variation finish to p1.
Variation finish to p1.
Jason Lakey on the first pitch of the North Face.
Jason Lakey on the first pitch of the North Face.
North Face
BETA PHOTO: North Face
Close up of the North Face.
Close up of the North Face.
The eyes tell the story.  Tom Michael near the end...
The eyes tell the story. Tom Michael near the end...
3rd ptch
3rd ptch
M.M. cleaning up the top of the 1st pitch
M.M. cleaning up the top of the 1st pitch
Manny gettin busy.
Manny gettin busy.
Me and the N. Face... 11b?  Hmmm....maybe someday....
Me and the N. Face... 11b? Hmmm....maybe someday....
Don't waste your strength trying a heel hook....do...
Don't waste your strength trying a heel hook....do...
Looking down from the last pitch.
Looking down from the last pitch.
Joseffa Meir Follows the wide section of the North...
Joseffa Meir Follows the wide section of the North...
The North Face
BETA PHOTO: The North Face
Morning view of the North Face.
Morning view of the North Face.
Scott after the undercling/lieback crux.
Scott after the undercling/lieback crux.
Starting up the 1st pitch...
Starting up the 1st pitch...
Martin following P1. We linked Fine Jade and the N...
Martin following P1. We linked Fine Jade and the N...
Moving past the undercling crux on P1. 4/2012  Pho...
Moving past the undercling crux on P1. 4/2012 Pho...

Show All 25 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on North Face Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 9, 2014
By Brennan Crellin
From: Draper, UT
May 10, 2015

My partner left my Green Omega Pacific Cam in the bottom of the first pitch (I found out later). If someone can retrieve this I will give a $18 reward. I will also pay for shipping. Message me. Thanks!
By Anonymous Coward
Nov 27, 2001

This is such a spectacular route! It is complete with excellent exposure, very sustained and varied from fingers to off-width.

The first pitch is definitely the hardest because it is so sustained and long. I brought three #3 Camalots, but most people want more for the first pitch. I would have liked to have a 4.5 or 5 Camalot for the last pitch, but most of the hard sections are secure.

It is very shady all day long, which makes this a good route to do in late spring of maybe even summer when it is too hot for other routes. If you do this climb in the fall or early spring, be prepared to dress very warm.
By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Apr 26, 2002
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

The last (3rd) pitch is a little runout, but particularly near the top, you can get stoppers in a crack withing the OW. Thus, it is best to take a set of nuts and a good number of 2' runners on this route.
By david goldstein
Sep 20, 2002

If you're taking wide gear specifically for the 3rd pitch, take a #5 Camalot or equivalent. A #4.5 is maddeningly just too small.-David Goldstein
By Brian Milhaupt
From: Golden, CO
Sep 23, 2002

An optional first pitch, or rather the original first pitch starts 30' to the right in another right facing dihedral. This goes at 11b, and is more difficult than the hand crack. Liebacking thin fingers, ends at the same belay. Both have excellent climbing.
By camhead
From: Vandalia, Appalachia
Sep 17, 2006

If you have a 70m rope, you can do the rap off the north face in four single-rope rappels. The first pitch of "North Face" is probably around 120-130 feet, and a 70m just BARELY puts you on the ground.
-Paul Nelson
By Mike
From: Phoenix
Oct 17, 2006
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

This is a great route up an awesome tower. Definitely a classic. I couldn't quite get myself to trust smearing on the calcite layer. Maybe next time.
By Ben Kiessel
Oct 31, 2006

When I climbed this route a few years ago, I had doubles up to #3 camalot and then one #3.5, and #4. If/when I climb this route again, I will bring more #3's for pitch one but the rest of my rack seemed sufficient. This route is one of the best i have done.
By Hayduke Cloud
From: Denver, CO
Feb 22, 2007

Awesome route on the most famous tower in Utah. I disagree with the grade creep going on here. This route is stiff, for sure, but 11c? Not a chance. When I think 11c I think Crack of Doom at City of Rocks, or Atlantis in the Needles. Both of which are miles harder than this route. Do not be intimidated by this route, get on it! Good gear and awesome exposure. 11a (maybe)
By Nate Furman
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Oct 10, 2007
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Climbed this gorgeous route on October 8th, 2007. It was splitter!

On the first pitch, we chose to go right and climb the undercling/lie back instead of the finger crack on the left. I would call it .11a and super, super good. A little thoughtful and very airy.

I would have liked 5 #3 camalots for the first pitch. We only had 3 and ended up shuffling them a bunch, which worked fine but was kind of a pain in the butt. Probably added to the pump factor a bit.

The second pitch was surprisingly hard for .10a.

The third pitch was marvelous. It looks super gnarley, but rarely did I have to do much OW technique. It was all there and climbed beautifully. Awesome route! We had a couple 4.5 camalots and placed them both.
By Steven Lucarelli
From: Moab, UT
Oct 15, 2007
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

I climbed straight up the finger crack on the first pitch and felt it was about 11a. The hand crack on the second pitch felt much harder than 10a, maybe closer to 10b/c.
By Will Butler
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 22, 2007
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Amazing line. I was suspicious about my friend's heed to bring four #3s for the first pitch but was very glad that I did. Think Indian Creek splitter. Even with this gear there were times when I pushed pieces up 20 ft. If you were trying to sew it up I'd bring 5-6 BD #3s as well as a #4 for this long and spectacular pitch.
By m-earle
From: USA
Nov 2, 2007

I rapped the north face with one 70m. The first rap brought us to a ledge about 15-20' above the anchors, and an exposed downclimbed ensued...we also left half the rack on top and were forced to simul Kor-Ingalls to get it. Kor-Ingalls is way easy to rap with one 70m.
By Mike
From: Phoenix
Nov 15, 2007
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Hey Hayduke that's funny you should say that. I found this route to be overall harder than Atlantis. That's how it goes with climbing ratings I guess.

FWIW, the Supertopo guide rates it 5.11c.
By andrew kulmatiski
From: logan, ut
Sep 12, 2008

Wow- What a route. This may be my favorite desert route. I'd give it an 11b, but I have big hands. I would have placed 10 #3's if I had them. We did two 60m raps from the summit. I think this route is much better (and easier) than Fine Jade. Anyone else worried about falling on cams on that final flake?
By k. riemondy
From: Boulder, Co
Nov 9, 2008

Make sure to bring some runners for the 3rd pitch, otherwise the rope drag will make the final .7 chimney quite frustrating. You really don't want the first words you utter as you pull on to the summit to be "Come f**king on Rope!" You might scare the other climbers on the summit :) (Thanks guys for the water)
By claramie
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 23, 2009

Easy to rap the route with a single 70 but beware because the first rappel is a super rope-stretcher. At the VERY end of the rope we had to reach down and clip the anchor and basically rap off the end of the rope back onto that ledge. The rest of the raps are casual and easy.

Absolutely fantastic route. We did the right start. Got to get on the #3 start next time!
By Devan Johnson
Oct 26, 2009
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Huh. I thought this route was significantly easier than fine jade. Definitely no stopper cruxes like the finger crack bulge on fine jade.
Overall, an awesome route. Pitch one was definitely the money pitch. The last pitch was also great. Careful cam placements, and occational leapfrogging make the last pitch less scary.
By Spencer Weiler
From: Salt Lake city
Jul 14, 2010

I'd bring 5 #3 camalots for the first pitch. I thought the 2nd pitch roof was the best move on the climb. I felt like I walked the #5 camalot for miles on the 3rd pitch and without it I would have felt very runout. Slings cannot be overemphasized on this pitch. I also did not see how one could set up a very secure belay from just below the final 30 foot chimney to make it a 4 pitch route(like Burns topo suggests), and there are no convenient fixed anchors on the top so be prepared with #2 and #3 camalots for a belay.
By Toby Butterfield
From: Portland, OR
May 2, 2012

If rapping with a single 70, you'll wind up downclimbing a ramp that is VERY exposed at the end of the very first rappel. Probably 5.5-5.6 if you're going up, but felt 5.7ish going down. You're not above a ledge or anything either -- mess up and you're 300 feet down and dead. I found this extremely unpleasant. Not a recommended rap route with a single 70 m rope IMO.

You could conceivably leave your ends un-knotted and rap off the end of your rope to the ledge with the rap station, but that would be a three foot or so fall. I didn't even feel close to that ledge and I went all the way to my knots.
By Eric and Lucie
From: Boulder, CO
May 14, 2012
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Wow! Varied, fun, steep, and well protected.
Note about pro for 3rd pitch and to clarify previous posts: what you'll need to make this pitch safe is the largest BD cam: this would be a #6 C4 (the new) or a #5 Camalot (the old). Both are green and extend to 7+ inches. You'll be walking this baby up several feet at a time several times between other good placements. I did not leave it placed and ended up using it for the last anchor too.
By Jess
Mar 1, 2013

Can you climb this route at the end of March or do you think it would be too cold? THanks in advance!
By Ryan Z
Mar 23, 2013
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

This route is awesome! SO much fun. We did it in the 3rd week of March on a warm day (60's in the sun) and we were pretty cold, but that is no reason to not climb it. I led P2 and P3. For P3 I hauled a BD #4 and #5, I did not place either of them, although they were handy for building an anchor atop.
By B Light
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Apr 3, 2013

Climbed this on March 30.
Gear Beta from a very conservative climber...
#5-1 (my partner argued for 2)
#4-1 or 2
#3-9 *I place them all on the first pitch and was happy
#2-2 or 3
#1-2 or 3
Med to Large Nuts
10-24" Slings
3 -48" Slings

One of my favorite routes in the desert!!
By tanner jones
Apr 3, 2013

you can rap this with a 70m (without having to downclimb) with the following method: 1st rap is only about 30 or 40 feet from the anchors, slightly climbers left, 2 big rap bolts. 2nd rap will take you to the belay station for the third pitch. 3rd rap will take you to the belay station for the 2nd pitch. 4th rap will get you to the ground, but you will be stretching your rope.

also there is a fixed piece on pitch 1 as of the end of March, 2013. I took 5 number 3 camalots and was happy-ish.
By chuckdrew
From: Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Oct 31, 2013

Great route!

The "5.10" part of pitch 1 was really hard for me (wide hands!), everything else including the offwidth and 5.11 part were not bad at all.

I brought 2 #5 camalots for pitch 3 and found them almost useless. Bring a #6 or two of them if you actually want to protect the pitch. I would have been much happier with 1 #6 than 10 #5s!
By Kevin Kent
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Nov 12, 2013

The gear beta in the description is pretty spot on. Double rack from blue or purple tcu to #3 C4, with a third #3. All these posts about 10 #3s and huge cams are completely ridiculous provided you're competent on desert 5.11. Also, there were 2 fixed pieces on the first pitch as of November 2013. I never placed my 3rd #3 because I was saving it in case I needed it for the upper part of the pitch but after about 2/3 of the way up there is nowhere to place a #3.

Also, I placed 1 medium-large stopper somewhere in the OW on P3, which was the only wire used on the whole climb.

Lastly, an 80m rope works beautifully for rapping the route.
By JeffL
From: Salt Lake City
May 7, 2014

For some reason I thought you could rap this with a single 70m rope... Maybe the above poster speaking of an anchor 20-30 feet below the summit would work, but you won't make it to the belay ledge from the summit rap. We downclimbed... 5.4 exposed with huge consequences. There's also a bolt at the ledge that you do reach (15-20 feet short of the anchors) for the bolted route that goes up the north face. If you wanted to leave a locker or do some sort of shenanigans that would be possible. Double 50m ropes is the best idea in my opinion. As for gear. It can't be said enough... bring a #6. I worked very hard to place a tipped out 5 and I didn't think would have held. I placed a green bigbro above that, still not in a good placement. OW isn't near as fun when you think you'll be taking a 50 foot whipper if you fall. As for gear. There are still 2 fixed pieces in the hand/fist crack as of 5/4/14. We brought 5 #3's and didn't place them all, but that was spacing gear out about 10 feet in between them. Be confident on #3 Indian Creek hand/fist cracks and you'll be fine.
By Matt Glue
From: Boulder, CO
May 9, 2014

For P2, make the sure the leader minds the follower. Put a piece in just after pulling the 2nd crux (getting out of the pod and into the super-secure wide section). With no pro in the super-secure wide thing, a fall getting into it would pendulum and grate the rope all across its jagged edge.
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