My 26th Birthday morning dawned clear, cool, and calm. A perfect desert day for climbing the main objective. Castleton.
We’d camped at the Castleton camp site that night, and it’d been looking down on us the entire time. It was almost ominous. We were all quite in the morning, thinking about what lay ahead.
We gathered gear, had a quick strawberry pancake Birthday breakfast, and took off up the talus cone to get going.
We arrived at the col and realized this baby was even bigger then we thought it was! This was going to be real deal.
The plan was for the gents to head up the North Chimney, a route that literally ascends into the mountain and pops out near the top after a long chimney system. It was to be pretty tight, and the whole while I was wondering if this Haney would even fit in there!
The ladies were to take an alternative route up named Kor-Ingalls (pronounced coreangles, man) which was filled with off widths but had larger belay ledges and some extra fixed anchors, we were hoping there would be enough room for all three of them on the route.
Andy and I took off up the chimney. And holy shit, before you knew it we were hundreds of feet off the deck, and with a lot of air hanging out below us. The first pitch was steep and strenuous, filled with hand jams. I got to the first belay ledge and was winded like I’d just run around the block chasing Dwyer. The following pitches mellowed out and we chimney’d our way up. Andy snapped this gem from one of the belay ledges inside on the chimney.
Meanwhile over on the Kor-Ingalls the ladies, led by Kim, were working their way up the route.
These routes were first climbed in the 60s and originally rated at 5.9. It ain’t no thing for Kim though. One little treat about Kor-Ingalls that we found in the summit register was, “The off width will continue until moral improves.” If you’ve ever tried to cram your tender self into an off width you’d know it wasn’t pleasant. Kim did a fantastic job getting her crew up through the nasty off widths!
Andy and I topped out and were pretty damn stoked. Both routes met for the last pitch, so we had the joy of watching Kim make her way up to the top!
Up top, the wind was cooking, but everyone was in high spirits after hours of grappling with rocks. We enjoyed a few minutes on the summit, hanging in the rock wall shelter and basking in the views.
The vistas off the top were splitter.
As fast as we’d came up, we retreated just as quickly. It was windy, getting late, and we were ready to get back to the Coors we’d left at the col.
Andy set the repel and dropped off the edge. Next it was my turn. After summit chilling for a few hours, it was pretty spicy to have hundreds of feet of air underneath my rear end again!
We rapp’d off the north face, and before you know it, we were on the ground enjoying the view of the ladies making their own way down.
The ladies did their thing and just like that we were safe and sound and on the ground.
I couldn’t have asked for a better objective to celebrate my 26th birthday, or a better group of friends to share it with. It felt awesome to hang out on top of the desert tower, and get back to ground.
Back at the col we did what we do best. We cracked some Coors Originals and cheers’d to safe and sound day on the hill.
Read about the author: Porter Haney