We had planned to climb the Kor Ingalls route on Castleton Tower for months now. Just before we flew out, a popular climbing magazine had an article on the climb. We feared it would be mobbed. My friends larry and Mike flew to Salt Lake City on Friday October 11, 1996. I had arrived earlier on a flight from Boston. We were lucky that Larry's family lived in American Fork, Utah. They came to pick us up at the airport and let us sleep overnight in comfortable beds.
We left for Moab, Utah the next morning. Larry's brother lent us his high ride four wheel drive vehicle. We would need that to drive into the valley to get close to the approach trail. When we arrived in Moab, we went to Arches National Park to climb Owl Rock. We spent the rest of the day walking around Canyonlands and having dinner in Moab. As the sun set, we drove down the road to Castleton and turned left onto a dirt path. The terrain was rough and it was hard to see at night. We found the camp spot and parked the truck. Qe slept in our sleeping bags under the stars.
The Hike In
I arose on Sunday morning at 4:30 am and woke the others. We donned our headlamps and gear and started the approach. The hike in was very steep and there was one point where we had to do a few climbing moves to get over a chunk of rock on the trail. I am glad it was dark because if I had seen the approach in daylight, there was no way I would have gone.
We got to the base at sunrise. A party from Gunnison was bivied at the base; they had rappelled off in the dark and did not have headlamps or flashlights. It had been cold and they did not have warm clothes. They had a slow ascent due to the number of parties on the climb. I made it a point to ALWAYS carry a headlamp after seeing what they went through.
We were the first people at the base of the climb. We roped up and Mike started the first pitch. We climbed the world's most perfect crack up the left side of a corner, followed by a chimney. I was not used to squeeze chimneys, so the climb became very difficult.
Larry lead the second pitch which went better for me. The third pitch, which Mike lead, was really scary on lead. It is a squeeze chimney with minimal protection. When he finally got to the bolt, it was hanging part way out of the rock. I enjoyed that pitch even less. My knees were bloody and bruised by the time I completed that pitch.
The fourth pitch was a short delight up the left face which was more like a chunky climb. It was my favorite pitch.
When we got to the top, the breeze made the late morning sun bearable. The view from the summit can not be missed. we hung out at the top for a while and decided what we should do for the rappel.
There is a rappel station down the back, but there was a party coming up on that side, and I did not like how the anchor was below the summit and a bit tricky for me to get to. We decided to rappel the route since no one had shown up to climb it that day. Our rappels went smoothly and we were a the base in no time.
The Hike Out
As we hiked back on the approach, I was horrified at the drop along the edge of the trail and how high up we had hiked. I was also disturbed over bouldering moves that I had made with ugly drop-offs behind me. I was so glad we had hiked up in pitch black.