Climbing Castleton for Layton Kor

As you know, the fundraiser has taken on a life of its own, thanks to everyone who keeps thinking of more ways to help. As soon as Alison Osius wrote the first article about the site in Rock and Ice (thus forcing us to make the site in time for the article to come out!), she got an email from a friend who was interested in doing a bonus guiding day and giving an extra donation to Layton right away. We hadn’t thought of that yet, but it seemed like a great idea! So I spoke with Al, who has climbed in the desert for years and years, and found out that he was hoping to have a great Castleton day with his son Luke, who has just started to climb. He thought this was the perfect way to help Layton Kor at the same time.

We hoped to climb the Kor-Ingalls, in honor of Layton, but last week was the tail end of summer here in Moab. We realized we would have a much better time in the shade than in the sun, so we decided to do the North Chimney, just around the corner from Kor-Ingalls.

As we hiked up the trail, Al and I told Luke all the great stories we knew about Layton Kor doing the first ascent of Castleton Tower in 1961 with Huntley Ingalls, and what an amazing feeling of adventure it must have been to walk up the thousand foot talus cone with no trail, and no certainty. We laughed too, imagining how heavy their packs must have been with hemp ropes and iron gear, as we hiked up with our fluffy little packs of the most light, modern equipment…..
The North Chimney is a three pitch climb, with lots of crack climbing, face climbing, and a little bit of grovelling. The belay ledges are pretty roomy for two, but three is a little tight, so Al and Luke were pretty happy to get rid of me once the ropes were organized!
We used two ropes, so Al and Luke could actually be climbing together, and talk about how to get through the cruxes together. This is a pretty fun way to climb as a threesome….
At the very top of the last pitch, the North Chimney joins into the Kor-Ingalls. We were happy to be finishing that way, as it meant a lot to us to be climbing together on this day in honor of Layton and to give back to him.
We enjoyed the summit, looked around at the beautiful desert around us, and I showed Al and Luke the exit point for BASE jumping. We signed the summit register in one last little open spot on an already crammed page (note to self: bring a new summit register next time!), and got ready to rappel the North Face.
This can be a quite an intimidating rappel, and was the first time Luke had ever done a multi-pitch rap like this. So he and I simul-rapped, and Al followed us down.
I think this was the most exciting part of the climb for Luke, especially when a super powerful wind gust blew us 20 feet to the left, when we wanted to swing 20 feet to the right to reach our anchor….
We were very happy to have finished the route safely and smoothly, and without even getting too hot! I think it was an unforgettable experience for a father and son, to summit Castleton Tower together.
A big thanks to Al and Luke for initiating the first climbing day to benefit Layton Kor!

  • Julie

    Steph–you’re such an inspiration. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and enjoy every post–from the training tips to the outreach you do to help a friend in need. This was such a memorable experience for the father and son, and your post has left me feeling glad. I thoroughly enjoyed your first book and look forward to your next! Keep on being you.


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