North Chimney, Castleton Tower

Otto's Route, Independence Monument, Colorado National Monument

cut from an email...Saturday 22 march 1997...

Brillant first weekend of the season. Friday night drove to castle valley in Utah, near Moab. Saturday climbed the North Chimney on Castleton Tower, amazing panoramic at the top, in full sight of Fisher Towers. Sunday climbed Otto's Route on Independence Monument in Colorado National Monument, desert environment there not as harsh as in Castle Valley, but plenty of climbing nevertheless and the tower itself is a sweet summit. Roll on the season.

This weekend gone, was a brillant first weekend of the climbing season, Friday night drove to castle valley in Utah, near Moab, 5.5 hours drive, bivied out, stout 1.5 hour hike in Saturday morning and then climbed a route called the North Chimney on this amazing tower, "Castleton Tower". Top is about 15mX15m, amazing panoramic, in full sight of Fisher Towers, Arches, canonylands, etc, full 500m down (taking into account the talus) on all sides. Route was 5.9 (HVS 5b), stout first pitch which I lead and rested on 5m before the belay and ended up belaying there. Then we got into 2brillant chimney pitches, finishing on a lovely hand crack face.

That night drove 100 mile to Colorado National Monumnet near Grand Junction and did a peach of a moonlight hike in before having another desert bivy by the tower under the comet. Sunday morning, scaled the tower Independence Monument, of similiar height but not as exposed as there's no substantial talus at the base. Climbed quick in 1hr 45min, 6 pitches, we were climbing with 2 60m (big-time sweet for the ab), Ralph ran the first two together, I ran the second 2 together. I did pitch 5, cool 5.8 (VS 4c) face, Ralph did the last pitch, the top is like a mushroom, so you have to swing out with your legs, pretty stout, bolt protected (this desert sandstone can be hard to protect) at 5.9 (5b) though, sweet summit.

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