Located just twenty miles outside of Moab Utah, Castleton tower is an imposing tower to say the least. One route on it, the Kor-Ingalls route, is listed in Roper and Steck's "50 classic climbs of North America". It is surely a common entry appearing on many people's tick lists. Because of its classic status, Kor-Ingalls receives the most traffic. It is important to note its historical significance. When it was first ascended in 1962 by geologist Huntley Ingalls and climber Layton Kor, it revised the pervasive paradigm of what was possible to climb in the desert. Thus, it was a catalyst for things to come. Although it marked the first ascent of the tower, it is not the easiest route to the top. Standing just around the corner lies the North Chimney with a YDS grade of 5.9- and characterized by shorter cruxes.
Though each face of Castleton is only about 40 feet wide, there are numerous high quality routes ranging from 5.10 to 5.12. The North Face (5.11a) is one such route which features good long cracks and commanding position. The rock on Castleton Tower is Wingate Sandstone and is very solid, rivaling the quality of rock at Indian Creek. Part of this is due to a thin layer of calcite which covers sections of the tower. Climbers will find that it is reliable, but slick (especially on well traveled sections). It does however, produce some unique features for holds. Descending this tower from all routes utilizes the bobmer bolted anchors atop either the North Face or Kor-Ingalls. There should be only two sets of obvious rappel anchors. If the Kor-Ingalls is busy, don't be an ass and make sure you rappel down the North Face route.
Exit on to Highway 191 south from I-70 (roughly 28 miles from Highway 6 and just over 60 miles from the Utah/Colorado border. This exit is well marked with signs directing drivers to Arches and Canyonlands. Drive 30 miles south. Just after driving past the entrance road for Arches, turn left (east) just after the bridge on SR 128 (River Road). This road runs alongside the Colorado River. Follow SR 128 for 15.2 miles and turn right (south) on the LaSal loop. A sign points towards Castle Valley. From there continue south, over the hill and along the base of Parriott Mesa until Castleton Tower comes into view on the left. Carefully watch for big pullout (undeveloped campground) on the left side which is the climbers campground and trailhead. Follow the trail through a wash, over a small hill, then up a myriad of switchbacks.
Red TapeThere are no permits required to climb Castleton.
People need to be extremely carefull because the area surrounding Castleton tower is in danger of being developed. Climbers have to TREAD LIGHTLY. Don't give anyone a reason to shut down access. Don't litter and respect the trails and wildlife. That should go without saying.
When To ClimbThere really is no specific season to climb Castleton. Summers can be very hot due to the fact that it is in the desert of southern Utah. Climbing can still be done in the shade. I climbed the North Face in June.
Remember that after sandstone gets wet it loses much of it's strength so it's a smart idea to stay off of it for about 24 hours after it rains.
Use good judgement and check the forecast for that area.
Check the Weather
CampingMost climbers simply camp in the climbers campground sitting just off the road. Locate a rather large pulloff just west of Castleton tower. This campground is quite big so there shouldn't be any problems.
Update: Since this page was originally posted, the campsite has been drastically reduced in size - most likely for preservation. It is still accommodating.
See the Red Tape Section regarding Wag Bags!
As of October 1, 2010, camping at the Castleton Tower Campground will
require registration. The campground area is becoming severely impacted,
and Utah Open Lands (the organization that owns the land) is taking steps
to keep this place available for recreational use for future climbers,
hikers, and desert enthusiasts-- while still keeping it a fee free
campground to be used and enjoyed by many. Please find the registration
information and suggested use guidelines at the website
This is a good page with about castleton wich has some climbers accounts of the route.
- Castleton - Brief Report
This is a nice page for a few Utah climbs including Kor-Ingalls. Has a few photos of the route.
- Kor-Ingals Climb Report
Short with nice photos.
- Team Arp Climbs Castleton Tower April 2004
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