A unique, seldom-visited quartzite tower in the heart of Glenwood Canyon. What's not to be loved, huh?
The name and first ascent history of this little tower is unknown but with the likes of Harvey Carter and Layton Kor running around the Canyon in the '60s and '70s, it's quite possible it was climbed many years ago. It doesn't appear to get many ascents, and in 2010 no rap anchors were found on the summit, only a single rusted piton a short scramble from the top.
The approach to this tower is probably the crux and the climbing is surprisingly good, quality and relatively clean. Of course, don't expect a Castleton Tower experience. This is a classic Glenwood Canyon adventure climbing experience and only those with the proper experience, skills, and determination should enlist themselves in this endeavor. That being said, it's an adventure not to be missed.
It's probably best to take a view of this thing from afar before hiking up. You can do so from the bike path or via a drive-by reconnaissance on eastbound I-70. There are also a couple of informal pullouts on westbound I-70 where you could take a look. To locate, find the Flag Buttress (the obvious rock formation with the American flag on top) and look east (lookers' left) from the buttress, across the large, unnamed gulch and you'll see a small tower detached from the canyon rim where the granite and quartzite meet. The tower is in the quartzite band.
From the Shoshone exit (#123), hike upstream on the bike path and cross the Colorado River as you would for the Fountain Buttress, typically via a Tyrolean traverse a couple minutes' hike upstream of the Fountain Buttress. After crossing, hike upstream along the railroad tracks (keep in mind that it is private property) to Bear Gulch, the large gulch to the east (lookers' left) of the Flag Buttress. This is about a 10 minute hike from the typical location of the Tyrolean.
Scramble, hike, climb, bushwhack and by whatever other means ascend the 1,000 +/- vertical feet up the hillside to reach the quartzite band of rock above the granite band and where this tower sits. In general, there is a clear and obvious gully situated just left of large, unnamed gulch that can be reasonably ascended depending on season and condition. This gully gradually pinches down and is guarded on both sides by steep granite cliffs. It can be ascended via some interesting 3rd/4th/easy 5th class scrambling. Alternatively, you can traverse east under the main granite formations and finish the approach by bushwhacking up the hillside. Pick your poison.
However you get there, where the granite ends and the quartzite begins sits this detached tower.
This route basically follows the path of least resistance from the saddle between the tower and the canyon rim. Expect some fun jamming, big holds in horizontals, some precariously stacked blocks and if you can wrap your head around it, fun, moderate free climbing. Climb up the steep face above an obvious belay anchor with the steepest, hardest climbing in the first 20-30 feet. Be aware that there is a large, detached block about 8-10 feet above the belay. Think about how you grab this thing bef...[more]Browse More Classics in CO