Conquering Castles

CASTLE #1: DEVILS CASTLE, ALTA, UT

For closing day at ALTA I was fortunate enough to tag along with some of the Skierboyz  and go for the Castle Couloir. The technical couloir (usually requiring one or more rappels) opens up into a beautiful, powder filled, apron which can be seen from the top of the Collins lift. I had scoped the couloir multiple times and was ready to go for it. However, when we got to the top and saw that the couloir was very filled in we decided to hike a little higher and take a more exposed entrance.

The Devils Castle as seen from the top of ALTA. The line we skied begins on the peak to the left of the saddle (in the sun) and runs on a diagonal back into the shadow and out the apron.

We took a different approach than usual, hiking up sugarloaf and around the back of the castle rather than booting straight up the couloir.

Still not sure if the shot we had planned to ski actually went through, we put on our harnesses and dropped in to scope the scenario.

It went! A little technical in a couple sections but thanks to La Nina and the copious amount of snow we were able to “free” ski a line that is rarely skied without rappels.

Silas taking a direct exit into the apron. The line we skied is straight above him. (Thanks for the photo John Faye)

Dylan sends (as usual).

After saying our goodbyes at the Highboy party, we headed back to the desert for some more sun and an even bigger objective.

CASTLE #2: CASTLETON TOWER, CASTLE VALLEY, UT

Dylan and I ditched the snow and headed to Moab for some more climbing action (the addiction is setting in). Our main objective was Castleton Tower, seen here looming above our camp.

Day 1 was spent “warming up”. We thought it would be a good idea to practice a couple multi pitch climbs, since we hadn’t done much together. So we headed to the ice cream parlor and tried not to melt in the heat.

Sunday morning we decided to go for it. We woke up early and made the coffee fueled hour long hike to the base of the tower. Dylan getting ready to send the first pitch of the North Chimney.

Hanging out at the first belay station, all smiles. Castleton was our first tower and by far the highest either of us have ever rock climbed. The adrenaline rush was overwhelmingly fantastic.

Almost to the top. Thank you, Dylan, for being so competent and patient with my apprehensiveness.

We made it! The view from the summit was breathtaking, partly from beauty, partly from the realization that we now needed to get down. I quickly wrote our names in the summit book and we discussed the best route to rappel. We encountered 60 mph winds at the top and were worried about our ropes getting tangled. We ended up sticking with the original plan and made three, two rope, rappels down the North Face. We had a couple very scary close calls but with luck on our side and Dylan’s extensive experience with ropes we made it down with all of our gear.

Braving the wind on top of Castleton Tower. Relieved to be down from the tower we made our Mothers day phone calls and had a delicious dinner with good friends. A major adventure and learning experience, climbing the tower is the highlight of my spring. Well… so far.

Next up, Idaho’s Pioneer Mountains.

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7 thoughts on “Conquering Castles

  1. eeee mick, that looks scary and fun and exciting and scary but fun. you’re incredible. love you. be careful please.

  2. HOLY SHIT….. uh…. how was it your mother put?……PUNKIN! Inspirational. That one shot of you and the expanse of the desert beneath? Sublime! You’re my hero!

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