Our Objective – Castleton Tower from the Parking Area
Every year during our family ski trip to Telluride I sneak away for a day of rock climbing. One of the reasons I love Telluride is that it’s situated in the western San Juan Mountains of Colorado, just a short drive away from several world class climbing destinations: Indian Creek, Moab, Castle Valley and Fisher Towers in Utah and the Black Canyon in Colorado (not to mention Ouray, which is the epicenter of ice climbing in the U.S.).
Castleton Tower is located just outside Moab and is one of the world’s most iconic rock formations. The Kor-Ingalls route, established in 1961, is one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America and has been on my tick list for years. I attempted it last year with Andres Marin, a guide from San Juan Mountain Guides, and we were turned back by 50 mph winds and crowds.
This year we struck gold. The weather was perfect – 65 and sunny with no wind – and we had the tower to ourselves. After chasing Andres up the strenuous approach we climbed Kor-Ingalls in four pitches. The climbing involves lots of offwidth cracks and chimneys – features I usually avoid – but the moves were really thought provoking and elegant. Hidden holds seemed to reveal themselves at just the right time.
Andres Marin leading the Kor-Ingalls route
And what a summit! From the top you have a 360 view of Castle Valley and the mountains beyond. After a few minutes on the summit we rapped the route and hiked down, completing the route car-to-car in about 4 hours (not bad!). It was an amazing day – definitely on my top 5 list. Here’s the view from the summit: