Kor-Ingalls 5.9

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Castleton Tower

Desert Towers, Utah, USA

Trip Report
IC + Desert Tower Trip #2: Supercrack Buttress, Technicolor Wall, and Kor-Ingalls on Castleton Tower
Thursday June 7, 2012 4:24pm
The “Indian Creek + Desert Tower + Dad & Peter” combo went so well last Fall that in April Peter, my dad and I did Round 2. Once again we did 2 days of climbing at Indian Creek, and then finished by climbing the classic Kor-Ingalls route (III, 5.9+) on Castleton Tower.

Kor-Ingalls Route on Castleton Tower, seen from the SE on the highway ...
Kor-Ingalls Route on Castleton Tower, seen from the SE on the highway in Castle Valley.
Credit: PellucidWombat

IC Day 1
April 26, 2012

IC+Desert Tower with Dad & Pete Trip #2! Peter and I failed to meet up the first day due to a confusion over which message board to meet at, but Dad & I did manage to meet up with my friend Dirk Summers and Faith Hill. We climbed together at Supercrack Buttress, where Dirk and I each led Incredible Hand Crack (5.10). Dirk then led Binge & Purge (5.11), a strange lieback+OW climb. This last climb aggravated my recently strained Psoa, but it was worth it! Rain forced us back to camp early. That night Dirk introduced us to a local climbing guru, Alf Randell.

Supercrack Buttress

Incredible Hand Crack (5.10)

Me leading (by Jay Thomas)

Me leading (by Dirk Summers)

This climb was really fun. The lower section was a bit tight for good hand jams, but the roof was bomber. I'm weak in the arms, so I did get pretty tired on the roof, but the jams were solid enough that I just moved slowly, keeping my arms straight, and halfway through I slammed some solid rest jams and rested a bit. Nice and chill. The upper corner is MUCH easier than it looks from the ground, as there are many little edges to stem on and grab.

Binge & Purge (5.11 OW)

Binge & Purge (5.11), starts as a thin lieback before turning into a brutal squeeze chimney, then a more straightforward vertical to overhanging arm-bar offwidth in the upper half.

Dirk leading the lieback. Trusty Faith belays.

Dirk reaching the OW-squeeze. Hmm . . .

Dirk couldn't figure out how to get himself to fit through the inside of the squeeze, so he got squeezed outside!

The week before Indian Creek I had injured myself in the usually unusual "Mark fashion" when I was climbing at Sentinel Creek. On the last climb of the day, up the Tilted Mitten, Right, I was hanging off a knee jam in a corner when I noticed that the shoe on my trailing 'heel-toe' leg had come untied. While hanging on the knee jam I twisted around and leaned way down to grab the shoelaces when ::POP::! I felt something pop & crumple underneath my obliques.

As best as I could tell, I had popped something in my Psoa, as it only hurt to bend down on my left side, or lean into a high-step on my left side, and I would get sympathetic soreness in my lower back. It felt OK for continuing with my climbing plans for southern Utah, and as long as I didn't work left-side in, it wasn't aggravated too much.

Interesting lieback start (by Jay Thomas)

I also couldn't get through the squeeze (by Jay Thomas)

It turns out this OW is left-side in, but I just couldn't resist.

Straightforward arm-barring, leg-barring and heel-toeing that gets progressively harder as the crack overhangs. Fortunately at the end there are a couple of cheater holds

I flew up the climb fast and smooth, but I had trouble breathing against the pain in my back and ribs from aggravating my injury, but I think it was worth it :-)

Dirk going for round 2.

Dirk going for round 2.

Dirk going for round 2, rest at last!

Fortunately rain started as Dirk finished his second round, so I had a good excuse to recover from the day's climbing and pace myself for the trip!

IC Day 2
April 27, 2012

I had to 'take it easy' today since my Psoa was still really sore and have been aggravated by climbing Binge & Purge the day before. Fortunately, Alf Randell was happy to show us his favorite crag, Technicolor Wall. He didn't mind playing rope gun, treating us to a few routes such as Whale's Back (5.10), Color Me Bad Ass (5.10+ OW), On the Up & UP (5.10). He was mentoring some other climbers who led P1 of Goliath (5.11) and at the end of the day he talked me into leading David (5.11 OW), which spanked me pretty good! After much struggling, I eventually managed to finish the climb without resorting to aid.

Technicolor Wall

The Whaleback (5.10)

The rolling flare.

Cool ripples. These made for interesting footholds & jamming features.

The sustained upper section. Wavy rock & a rolling flare added some fun!

Alf giving Peter a 'dynamic top rope belay'.

Peter climbing, dad wandering.

Peter climbing. He's getting this jamming thing down!

Badass Momma (5.10+ OW)

Alf leading shirtless!

Pete climbing, Alf belaying.

On the Up & Up (5.10)

A steep and beautiful fist crack. Crux is exiting the pod and then you climb a fun leaning crack.

Alf leading.

Alf leading. Perfect human pod. The crux is pulling the awkward roof to get out.

Alf leading.

Alf leading.

Alf leading.

Cracks here aren't nearly as buffed as on Super Crack Buttress. Still amazingly splitter!

Pete working the crux.

Pete in #3 Camalot territory.

David (5.11 OW)

Beginning the lead. (by Alf Randell)

Leading the easy part. I got spanked on the crux, which is the leaning section at the little roof (by Alf Randell)

The leaning section through the roof required some new OW moves for me. In the end I liebacked the edge with my arms (with some arm-barring to hold me in closer while I slid the cams), with one leg torqued inside the crack to keep myself from swinging out. I could then heel-toe with the outside leg as I pushed myself, belly-up, along the crack. There was no way to get your weight over your feet, so the upper half of this climb was very strenuous on the core & arms!

Trevor didn't know how to climb OWs, but he was strong enough that he just liebacked the entire zig-zag, looking fairly relaxed as he did it. So much for being proud of surviving my lead. There's nothing like seeing a 5.12 climber in action to deflate any ego I might have grown! :-P

Goliath (5.11)

The first pitch is 5.11 fingers and off hands-off fingers.

The first pitch is 5.11 fingers (top is in view). The second pitch is a 5.12 OW that tops out.

Trevor leading the 5.11 fingers P1. (by Alf Randell)

Off-fingers section was strenuous and insecure! My wombat paws had trouble fitting.

P1 of Goliath started out a little dirty but was a long and varied climb. With 20' of cl. 3-4 scrambling it could barely be top-roped with a 70m rope. Hand, fingers, liebacking an odd corner, back to off-fingers, then finishing with tight fingers, the climb was a solid workout! It was a good reminder of how sandstone is different than granite, as well, as at one point when I was trying to torque a toe on on the off-fingers section, the rock blew out. It made for a suddenly better toe jam, but it definitely got me thinking about what a shallowly placed cam would do!

Sunset below Technicolor Wall

Castleton Tower
April 28, 2012

For the third day of our Southern Utah trip, Pete and I woke up early and climbed the "50 Classic" climb Kor-Ingalls on Castleton Tower. The 5.9+ offwidth was an interesting challenge requiring some wild stemming on slick calcite, but the 5.8 on the pitch before was arguably harder and less secure. We had perfect temps, nice sun, and virtually no wind!

Despite getting a later start than desired, we had the route all to ourselves. There was another party climbing the N Chimney Route, and one party started climbing Kor-Ingalls 2 pitches behind us, but they bailed midway through P2.


Sister Superior, The Priest, Choir & Rectory.

It turns out we stopped in Moab during the annual April Action Car show. Highlights were the RV on hydraulics, and the Jersey-shore nature of the hundreds of people who had descended upon the town for the event.

Due to the prior night's entertainment, Pete and I got to the TH later than expected. It was full! We had hoped to beat any groups getting on the route, so we hiked up the trail at a mad pace.

The Priest & Choir

First calcite sightings.

First calcite sightings.

Castleton Tower, North Chimney

We accidentally came up on the wrong side of the tower. There was a team roping up for the North Chimney there, and they reported being the only ones up there so far. Great news!

Pitch 1

Castleton Tower Kor-Ingalls Route on the south face. Basically just follow the big corner as it steps up the tower.

We picked our way around the exposed and loose east side of the tower, which isn't nearly as nice as coming up the proper way. None of the topos acknowledged the first 20 ft step, but the start was obvious enough, so up we went!

Kor-Ingalls, P1 lower tier.

P1 reaching the chimneys.

P1 reaching the calcite lined chimneys.

P1 crux chimney. The slick calcite made it pretty tricky to move up!

I was surprised how slick the calcite was. I thought glacially polished granite was slick, but this was like linoleum sprayed with WD-40. After some comical attempts of standard chimney technique failed (I basically stayed in place as I tried to ratchet), I found that it was much easier to use the inside corner of the chimney, and occasionally a wide crack on the outside corner.

Views out of the P1 crux chimney.

P1 easy chimney.

P1 easy chimney calcite.

P1 easy chimney calcite.

P1 easy chimney calcite.

P1 easy chimney calcite.

P1 old star bolt.

P1 new bolts & rapp chains.

P1 rack. I back cleaned the C3 and the #4 was somewhat optional.

Pitch 2

Steep pitch 2. This was arguably harder and scarier than the 5.9 crux pitch. The topo said to take the right of 2 cracks, but I see 3 ways here . . . The easiest and most secure way might have been to stay in the left crack and then traverse over on the high ledge. Loose blocks guard the exit on the left, but they can be climbed around on the left face and then stemmed over. The right set of double cracks would be nicer for the most part, except for the large moving chockstone!

P2, starting up the left crack before a steep leaning stem to get into the center crack.

P2 calcite horror show. This OW was very tricky, and the slick calcite didn't help. I test-tugged this #4 Camalot, and it just slid down in the crack. Hmm . . . I stepped right shortly after that for better pro security until I found the large moving block that got in my way! Then I stepped back to finish on this crack where it was #3 Camalot size.

Rack for P2. I also placed a #5 Camalot in a pod on the 5.8 OW to back up the sliding #4 Camalot, but that was very optional and could be avoided by taking a different crack.

P2 anchors.

Pitch 3

P3 lower OW.

P3 upper OW. Starts off easy and gets tighter as you get higher.

One of the bizarre things about this pitch was that we could hear climbers on the North Chimney through the crack! At first all that we could hear was muffled talking, but as I climbed higher the grunting, pounding and muffled cursing emanating from the rock grew more distinct. Every now and then I looked deep into the crack to see if I could see the climbers, but the crack still pinched off deep inside.

P3 5.9+ OW crux, protected by this bolt. I found the best way around this crux was to do some wide & delicate stemming on the calcite around the OW, especially on the left wall.

I launched into the offwidth crux. It was a nasty crux, as the crack gradually pinches down, and the opens up again, all the while lined with slick calcite. I clipped the last bolt and squirmed about a body length higher before I got stuck. I couldn't fit my hips through the pinch, the opening above was too wide for a strong chickenwing, and the crack below was too wide for foot stacking, and too slick to push up with my legs.

"Mooo! Moo!"

Was that me moaning is despair? Or was that noise in my head? In a way yes to both, but also as I struggled, I could hear the cows mooing in the pasture far below, which seemed to be a bizarre backdrop to desert tower climbing.

(The North Chimney party later said that while they could hear me through the rock as well, all they could hear was heavy breathing and no cursing, grunting, or moaning, so I guess I kept better composure than I thought.)

Inside the P3 OW crux. The next body length here was tricky and mostly required climbing outside the crack.

Eventually I realized that I would have to move my hips outside the crack to get around the constriction. The problem was that I had lousy footing and no way to lock off my arms in the crack, so the move leaning out of the crack would be very precarious. I remembered seeing some face features and decided it would be a better option to climb around this constriction rather than through it, so I slithered a short ways back down the crack to try out the bypass idea.

Looking down from the P3 OW crux.

It worked! The climbing was very thin on slick calcite crimpers, and I nearly had to do the splits to maintain the wide stem as I ratcheted up past the constriction, then transitioned back into the offwidth to finish.

P3 easy chimney. Pro is optional here and easy to find on a finger crack in the back. Otherwise, there is a nice piece to protect the exit to the belay ledge.

Pete climbing the P3 OW. He has finished the wide & wild stemming and is now trying to re-enter the OW without falling out of his precarious stance. A party is belaying P2 but bailed before they finished the pitch.

Pete climbing the P3 easy chimney.

Rack for P3. Add 3 draws for the bolts.

Pitch 4

P4. A 5.8 OW variation goes straight up, while the easy 5.7 way steps right around the corner into an easy chimney.

P4 5.8 OW variation goes straight up to the summit. I'll have to try this one when I climb the N chimney!

P4 easy chimney to gain the notch. The blocks are loose, so take care to climb around them.

P4 calcite.

P4 calcite.

P4 5.7 hand traverse. The rock & pro are good here, and things are very straightforward.

Since I was still a little tired & nervous from the last pitch, and I wasn't ready for how easy & solid the rock would be at the end of the last pitch, I sewed it up. The N Chimney party commented that at least I showed them all of the pro placements! :-) Apart from some care taken around the loose chockstone in the chimney, this last pitch is pure fun and probably the easiest one on the route.

N Chimney party prepping for their last pitch as I climb by & stem over!

Looking down P4. The N Chimney team ended their pitch in the notch and will come up after Peter follows.

P4 rack if you want to sew it up. #5 was optional and I mostly placed it to get rid of it. Don't bring anything larger than a #4 Camalot on this route.


Sister Superior & The Priest

The summit is a nice flat area, maybe 60 ft wide and 200 ft long. You really get a sense of being suspended above the landscape here.

The Priest, Choir & Rectory.

Sister Superior

View NW from Castleton Tower.

View N from Castleton Tower of the Fisher Towers.

View E to the La Sal Mtns from Castleton Tower.

The horror . . .

Silly summit drawing.

Me & Pete on the summit.

It was a perfect day to climb the route. The shade was just cool enough that a light jacket was comfortable, and it never got hot in the sun. Winds were very mild, which is unusual for the tower. Even the rappels were very easy and straightforward.


You can barely do the rappels down Kor-Ingalls with one 60m rope. However, you won't clear the last 20 ft cliff band on the last rappel. There are some exposed bolts that are within reach a bit around to the climber's right (south) that looked good for a final short rappel if you are getting down with one rope.

Sister Superior.

North Chimney team rappelling the N Face. Can you find them?

The Priest, Choir, Rectory & Castleton Tower from the TH.

Castleton Tower in the morning from the highway.

Castleton Tower in the morning from the highway. The white shiny stuff is calcite smattered on the sandstone.

This trip, just like the first one to the Moab area, was great! Peter, my dad and I are already planning on doing a third round this Fall, with plans to climb the N Chimney on Castleton Tower, and/or Honeymoon Chimney on the Priest - and of course we’ll have another sampling of Indian Creek too.

Personal Website - Indian Creek
Personal Website - Castleton Tower

  Trip Report Views: 5,295
About the Author
PellucidWombat is a mountain climber from Berkeley, CA.

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Trad climber
  Jun 7, 2012 - 05:00pm PT
Well done - nice collection of pics.

Haven't been there, yet, but WOW!

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Jun 7, 2012 - 04:55pm PT

Pretty nifty, Wombat. Loved the silouhuette pics, they're great!!!!

(I don't remember that second pitch being harder than the third, though). . .

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2012 - 04:57pm PT
(I don't remember that second pitch being harder than the third, though). . .

I might have taken the worst possible line on that pitch. :-)

If I were to do it again I'd start on the right of the 3 options then step left at the loose block.

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jun 7, 2012 - 05:24pm PT
I fully agree that the 2nd pitch is tougher than the 3rd. Our rack has always been singles to #2 w/ doubles in the #3 and #4 size camalots no stoppers.

You guys had an awesome trip! What's the next tower you want to do?
Hardly Visible

Social climber
Llatikcuf WA
  Jun 7, 2012 - 05:24pm PT
Looks like a nice trip PW.

  Jun 7, 2012 - 05:32pm PT
Fun stuff! Great to see some creek routes that don't show up too often in tr's (ihc, notwithstanding). Such a beautiful, special place.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2012 - 05:56pm PT
Grippa - Honeymoon Chimney on the Priest is the route I want to do most next, although Peter feels like he might be able to share in leading the Castleton N Chimney pitches when we next go back, so we'll see if we climb one or both of those.

As a separate trip with some aid climbing friends, I'm thinking of trying to get out there mid-winter to climb King Fisher Tower in the Fishers, or maybe start with something a bit more secure in Arches, such as the Three Gossips. If I climbed some towers in Arches, then I'd definitely go for the Three Penguins as well!

Our rack has always been singles to #2 w/ doubles in the #3 and #4 size camalots no stoppers.

That's basically the rack I'd recommend from me experience on the climb. Somehow the information I had led me to bring way to much gear for the route. Not just more than I needed, but more than one could place given the limited solid gear placements!

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jun 7, 2012 - 05:56pm PT
Awesome photos and burly cracks!

Thass how it's done, Mmmmkay?

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jun 7, 2012 - 06:00pm PT
Cool times! Sorry about Alf :)

Trad climber
Salt Lake City, UT
  Jun 7, 2012 - 06:45pm PT
haha I bet you found yourself bumping those #4's up the 2nd pitch eh?! The Honey Moon and N Face of castletonia are next on my list!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 7, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
I bumped up the #4 until I realized that I could pull it back down about as easily. Then I stopped fussing with the gear and looked for how to get out of there!

Social climber
Joshua Tree
  Jun 7, 2012 - 07:50pm PT
Wow, I barely even recongnize most of that (K-I). I have vivid memories of leading p2 and 3 while a pretty green n00b crack climber. Whipped onto that bolt on p3, and remember having to stretch as far as possible and pulling some (unnecessary) 5.10 or harder crimp moves off these calcite fins to get off that stance just above the bolt on p3. All I remember about p2 was my partner backing off after getting a terrible cam in a flaring flakey thing for the first piece, and me just running it for about 20' to a good placement while chanting to myself "it's 5.8, how hard can it be"...enough that I believed it. Our friends were doing the NorthChims at the time and Jim was taunting me through the crack while I moaned and cursed through the wide.

"How's it goin over there, tee hee hee?!"
"f*#k you Jim!"
"Sounds strenuous"
"I'm gonna give you a strenuous whoopin' when we get down for putting us on this thing!"

Ah, good times.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jun 7, 2012 - 09:30pm PT
Nice wombad, love your TR's.

The north chimney is definitely on my list (I know you didn't climb it).

Way to go, Thanks!

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Jun 7, 2012 - 10:13pm PT
A mighty fine TR!

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 8, 2012 - 02:39am PT
Our friends were doing the NorthChims at the time and Jim was taunting me through the crack while I moaned and cursed through the wide.

Ahahahaha! Thanks for sharing. Perhaps the best way to climb either route is with friends on the other route for entertainment value :-)
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
  Jun 8, 2012 - 12:28pm PT
The Wombat delivers again! Good stuff!

  Jun 8, 2012 - 12:52pm PT
There ya go, again. . . keep this one queued up for the COFFEE TABLE BOOK, too!


30 mins. from suicide USA
  Jun 8, 2012 - 02:57pm PT
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Jun 8, 2012 - 03:06pm PT
What a great TR, thanks, great pics too.

Mountain climber
Draperderr, by Bangerter, Utah
Author's Reply  Jun 10, 2012 - 03:50pm PT
keep this one queued up for the COFFEE TABLE BOOK, too!

I could definitely go back and include a bunch more of the "50 Classics", like Devil's Tower & E Face of Whitney. I just did S Face of Charlotte Dome & Direct SE Face of Clyde Minaret the last two weekends. Since I'm working from home today, maybe I'll put up something on one of those? :-)

Social climber
Lida Junction
  Mar 12, 2014 - 04:32pm PT
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Castleton Tower - Kor-Ingalls 5.9 - Desert Towers, Utah, USA. Click to Enlarge
A view from the approach.
Photo: Dougald MacDonald
Other Routes on Castleton Tower
Castleton Tower - North Chimney 5.9 - Desert Towers, Utah, USA. Click for details.
North Chimney, 5.9
Castleton Tower
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A view from the approach.
Castleton Tower - North Face 5.11c - Desert Towers, Utah, USA. Click for details.
North Face, 5.11c
Castleton Tower
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A view from the approach.