Fall Photos

I just returned from Indian Creek and the Castle Valley, fortunate enough to witness those two spots after the season's first snow on the peaks above. The week before, I hosted my friend Forest for a few days, and most of the shots here are Forest's, from our trip to the South Platte's Wigwam Dome.

This  week Scott and I met our friend Garrett in Indian Creek, where we climbed for a day at Way Rambo wall (Scott's ringlock skills earned points for onsighting the crag's hardest route, Slice and Dice, while I earned a solitary point for the subsequent TR flash). We all then headed to the Scarface wall, where I lead some fun routes I hadn't tried before, onsighting The Cleaner and Desert Vuarnet (more points) and Garrett got revenge on the classic 'Scarface'. Scott worked 'Death of a Cowboy' (or vice versa) and Garrett made good on his promise to tackle the sustained wideness of Big Guy.

Following this, Scott and I headed to the Castle Valley, where we hoped to link up Castleton Tower, The Rectory, The Priest, Sister Superior, and The Convent in one day. We wanted to start on the North side of the ridge, and walk/climb our way South. The second plan was to start on the South and work North. However, without being able to bring bicycles (I rode the Amtrak home) and without meeting any climbers to help out in a car shuttle, we resorted to starting and ending at one spot and traversing the whole ridge twice.
The Convent (L) and Sister Superior, from beneath The Priest

By 7am we found ourselves atop the ridge, and I began the first pitch of Fine Jade as the sun's rays first hit the Rectory. Temperatures in the parking lot (1000' lower and much less windy) had been well below freezing at night, and my hands were instantly numb. After barely making it through the first pitch without feeling below the wrists, I had the worst episode of screaming barfies that I can remember. I was shouting so much that Scott thought something was seriously wrong with me (well... something new) and he offered to self-belay the pitch if I'd fix the rope.

The instant and seemingly-irrepressible urge to vomit my instant oatmeal/instant coffee breakfast all over the cliff did slowly pass, and I brought Scott up so that he too could have a bout of the 'barfies'.

Garrett on Way Rambo... not the Convent
We quickly finished off the last two pitches on the Rectory, rapped down, and began hiking North. Two or three tedious hours of running/sliding/falling/scrambling along the ridge past Sister Superior Tower had brought us to The Convent, but we only had a vague idea about the location of our intended route, the Power of Audacity. We eventually ID'ed the climb, with Scott this time leading the first and third pitch, while I got the mellower p2. The route was good, but not great, with a tough 5.11+++ first pitch roof flare. The final "5.8 chimney" reminded me of the last pitch of the West Face of Colchuck Balanced Rock, in that 5.8 chimneying was a euphemism for something far more sinister.

After 3 rappels (only one of them off a legit anchor), we high-tailed it back to Sister Superior, where we found that our remaining water, jacket, long-sleeve shirt, and camera tripod had been taken, presumably by a group who day-tripped to this one tower and didn't know we were heading back to it. Crestfallen and tired, we had quick tour up Jah Man before we again found ourselves trudging along the crest's constantly-eroding terrain.

With every footstep slide out from beneath us, it felt as though we were being chased by gravity, and only through continuous forward movement would be prevent being pulled down the hill in either direction. The trick was to sprint between 'islands of security', which could have taken the form of plants, large rocks, or any other rare object that offered temporary stability.

Scott and I seriously contemplated the no-water and no-windbreaker headlamp-ed attempts of The Priest and Castleton, but eventually decided to head down the ridge to camp and re-hydration.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah! Tower link ups are awesome, nice job. Had a similar but easier day a few weeks ago. What's the record for towers linked in a day? Would be fun to go for 5...10...more?