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Castle Rock West, 5.7-5.11d

Castle Rock West, 5.7-5.11d

Castle Rock West, 5.7-5.11d

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Idaho, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 42.12500°N / 113.671°W

Object Title: Castle Rock West, 5.7-5.11d

Activities: Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 6000 ft / 1829 m


Page By: Dow Williams

Created/Edited: Jun 12, 2013 / Oct 7, 2015

Object ID: 852715

Hits: 797 

Page Score: 77.93%  - 9 Votes 

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Southern Rock Opera, 5.11d
Southern Rock Opera, 5.11d

Castle Rock is the largest formation not just in Castle Rocks State Park, but in the entirety of the City of Rocks area. Although the Twin Sisters are no doubt taller, Castle Rock offers broader faces and thus the most established climbs on one feature in southern Idaho. Due to Castle's size and ease of access from the main trailhead at Castle Rocks State Park, it is also the busiest formation in the park. That being said, it draws most attention to its easier sport lines leaving several stellar cracks wide open no matter the holiday or season.
El Castleton, 5.10
El Castleton, 5.10

The west face of Castle Rock starts with the popular arête route named Red Rib (separating the west face from the south face) and runs up into what they call Hostess Gully which is how you access the north face. Therefore, the majority of these routes receive a ton of afternoon sun and make for good cold weather climbing.  El Castleton (5.10) and Southern Rock Opera (5.11d) are two of the finer cracks in the entire City of Rocks area and Bingham gives them their due in his local guide.  Popular sport lines include Red Rib (5.10a), Between Heaven and Earth (5.9), Zinger (5.8) and Fruit Pie (5.7). The routes on the right side of the wall located on a separate buttress can all be done in one pitch but most will require doubles to rap. Many of the routes on the left face require multiple leads to the summit.

Park at the main Castle trailhead. Do not park in non-designated parking spaces, I have seen the rangers give tickets for that, rather use the overflow parking back near the ranch house if the main trailhead is full.  Hike west towards Castle Rock and circumvent it to the south via a well-established trail. The climber trails up to all the routes on Castle are well established.  For what they call the West Summit, pass Hostess Gully on the west side and keep heading north.  Circumvent the next chunk of rock which is what they call the "West Summit".  It has the below routes on its north wall.

Route Description(s)

West Summit (north face, not part of main wall or even the monolith of Castle for that matter, but they call it the West Summit)
Routes Listed Left to Right as you face the Wall
  • New Arrival- 5.10a*/

  • Sword in the Stone-2 Pitches-5.10a**/This pitch is easily done in one pitch on lead and accepts two single rope fixed raps as opposed to recommended doubles in the guide (2015). This was the best pitch I led during this particular day. A fun pitch and one that includes a bit of everything, smear and edging, hands as well as a short amount of off-width. The only 5.10a moves are through the initial five bolts that land you on the ledge above (rap station). This section of climbing is thoughtful and precise. Off the deck offers cool stemming to a crack. After you vacate the crack, you hit a face section with bolts through a seam. Five bolts and options for gear. The 2nd pitch which I combined with a 70m, starts out with good hands and goes to off-width, but nothing harder than 5.8+. Plenty of feet as you twist and turn through the wide section. Fixed rap on top and another on the ledge for two single rope rappels. Single rack to #3, draws and slings. Mixed. Dow

  • Excalibur- 5.11b***/

  • Shifting Gears- 5.10d/

  • Shifting Granite Blocks- 5.10dR/
West Face
Routes Listed Right to Left as you face the Wall
  • Red Rib- 5.10a***/I don’t agree with Bingham’s assessment of three stars for this route, but then I am not much of a sport/slab climber. The position is fun as it takes the arête that starts the west face. I actually preferred the Numbshall lead just to the left, but it is much less popular. El Castleton is by far the best of the three, all the same grade, all share the same belay spot, but have their own anchors. Dow

  • Numbshall- 5.10a**/As I said, I preferred this line over Red Rib. It does offer a gear placement or two and is a bit steeper and more varied. Dow

  • El Castleton- 5.10a***/This is the best route I have climbed on Castle Rock to date. It follows an obvious arching crack in the middle of the face to the left of Red Rib. You solo up the chimney and then I ran it out a bit up the face to access the crack. It does not see much traffic based on a bit of cleaning I did, probably just due to the fact that most folks climbing on Castle are sport climbers. The crack is a bit flared, mostly fingers at the crux. El Castleton eases off at the top, move right up big jugs to its own anchors just above Red Rib and Numbshall. Climbing this pitch is a great opportunity to warm up and scout out Southern Rock Opera which is another incredible arching crack to the left. El Castleton takes a full assortment of finger gear. Considered a bit stiff at the grade by the locals and I agree, prob more like 10b or c.  Dow

  • Country-Western Ballad- 5.11c**/

  • Southern Rock Opera- 5.11d***/ (photo)

  • Dead Drunk and Naked- 5.11a**/

  • Thousand Moons- 5.11a**/

  • Leather and Lice- 5.10b*/

  • Patina Atoll- 5.10d***/

  • Fruit Filling- 5.10c**/

  • Fruit Pie- 5.7***/

  • Zinger- 5.8***/

  • Twinkie- 5.10c***/

  • Ho-Ho- 5.10d**/

  • Piece of Cake- 5.7/

  • It Takes Two- 5.8**/

  • Between Heaven and Earth- 5.9***/A tall bolted line, 15 bolts or so. It is fun but not sustained for the grade. The small roof move off the deck might be the crux although still probably at a lessor grade. Rap with two ropes. Dow

  • Blind Pig- 5.10a*/This is a better route than Between Heaven and Earth. It offers two neat cruxes with the upper slab moves pushing the grade. Climb up just left of Between Heaven and Earth and follow the bolts (10+)  to the right of the large blank section of the wall. The route trends left. Pull the roof easily to the start of a vertical slab section with a few intricate moves to the fixed rap. Can rap with a single rope.  Dow

  • Honeymoon in Almo- 5.11a***/

  • Three Bits- 5.9*/


Jorge UriosteSouthern Rock Opera, 5.11dCastle RockEl Castleton, 5.10Between Heaven and Earth, 5.9Southern Rock Opera, 5.11d and El Castleton, 5.10Numbshall, 5.10a
Red Rib, 510aFruit Pie, 5.7El Castleton, 5.10Sword in the Stone, 5.10aSword in the Stone, 5.10aSword in the Stone, 5.10a