Climbing for Layton Kor

You may remember that we organized some fundraising to help Layton Kor, by auctioning off lots of gear and climbing days to raise money for his medical fund. Stewart Green has been the instigator and constant force in this effort, continuously getting signed photos, magazines, books and posters to keep the support going for Layton and donating several additional guide days in Colorado towards the project. We were able to offer a lot of help to Layton through everyone’s contribution, and will continue to find ways to help him. I’ve received generous offers to donate more guide days from 12 more pro climbers, guides and photographers. Stewart and I will re-vamp Layton’s website to offer these climbing/photo days to more donors who would like to bid for them, so I’ll keep you posted on our progress with that.

I got some great photos and captions from Mike Harris, who won a climbing day with Tommy Caldwell, and a note and a photo from Eric Horst from his climbing day in the Gunks with Jean-Philippe Martin. I had a fantastic day out with Denise Driver on Castleton, who first donated to the fundraiser, and then came all the way from Australia to get her climbing day! We also had two bonus guide days with very generous donors outside of the fundraiser, El Cap with Tommy, and an additional Castleton day for me with Al and Luke Fiorello. Again, huge thanks to everyone for this fantastic (and fun) way to lend support to Layton, a role model and hero to so many, including me.

I wanted to share these photos of our days with everyone, and thank everyone again for the outpouring of support to Layton. It really shows the meaning of community. Layton is doing well, and greatly appreciates everyone’s well wishes and help.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Castleton Tower, by Layton Kor and Huntley Ingalls. In honor of that, and to add some more, still-needed support to Layton’s medical fund, I’m going to do a silent auction on this site of another Castleton day with me, so stay tuned!

Here are some photos and stories from a few of our winners:

Gunks climbing day, Eric Horst and Jean-Philippe Martin

JP, Steph, and Stew,
I have been meaning to forward you all a photo from my day at the Gunks with Jean-Philippe. We did a bunch of classic routes including the famous Directissima…the attached photo shows JP on the third pitch.
Best,
Eric

Rocky Mountain National Park climbing day, Mike Harris and Tommy Caldwell

It was a beautiful September day and the aspen trees were beginning to change in the mountains around Estes Park Colorado.

A beautiful line that offered a little of everything.

A few months earlier I had contributed to the Layton Kor fundraiser. My motivation was not personal reward, it just seemed the right thing to do.
But, the choice was there, a drawing to win gear or a climbing day with a world class professional climber. It was easy, no gear needed. Without hesitating, Tommy Caldwell.
Tommy had contributed a day of his time to climb with a contributor. Guess whose name came up in the drawing?

The route was a Kor classic… Pear Buttress on The Book. Lumpy Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park

The hike in was about an hour, lungs were splitting at 8,000 feet above my acclimation level. We talked about family and friends, climbing destinations and future trips. Kids, both being one and having them. The women in our lives and the fathers who knew what was important in life… time with their children.

A pitch of superb crack, I am told. I hate crack! It was everything I could do to stay on it. Pain!

What a great day with a great guy and a true ambassador of our sport. Humble and real.

It may not have been the top of the world but, for me it was as good as it gets.

The day I spent six hours with Tommy Caldwell. It was everything I could imagine and more than one could hope.

Castleton Tower climbing day, Denise Driver and Steph Davis

An excellent climber and traveller, Denise had wanted to make a climbing trip to the States for a long time, and winning our climbing day on Castleton was the catalyst for her first trip to the desert.

It was a perfectly gorgeous day and much hotter than we’d expected, so we decided to climb the North Chimney to chase shade.

Denise was not perfectly impressed with the condition of my rope, but I explained to her that using climbing tape to cover up little nicks in the sheath is a tried and true desert technique.

The North Chimney is one of my favorite routes, so it really made me happy to see Denise scampering right up the steep cracks and enjoying the climbing as much as I do.



It’s pretty rare for me to climb up Castleton and rappel down it, but naturally I had planned to descend with Denise. When we were leaving the parking to start our hike, I couldn’t help but notice the perfect, no-wind jumping conditions. And coincidentally, I just happened to have a packed base rig and a tag line in the back of my truck. Even more coincidentally, the truck that pulled up next to mine was an old friend of mine, Steve Quinlan who was also there to climb Castleton with a friend. Steve is a long-time desert climber and first ascensionist, and everyone agreed that the three of them could rap down together if I wanted to bring my base rig up the tower….

Unfortunately Denise and I did not take any tea breaks on belay ledges, due to not having any tea, and we reached the summit to find ourselves the first party up there, with Steve and his friend a ways from topping out. Just as we were planning to start our rappels, another party showed up. They were very friendly, and also experienced climbers, so Denise hitchhiked down with them on the rap route, and I got the express elevator down after all 🙂

As always, it was another fantastic day on Castleton Tower, the legacy of the pioneering spirit of Layton Kor.

Huge thanks to everyone who has supported and continues to support Layton, now that he finds himself in need of some aid from his community. You guys rock!


  • PostingComments

    Hi Steph – I think it’s awesome that you offered up a day of guiding to help Layton Kor pay for his medical expenses, and I’m happy for Denise for having won a day on Castleton with you. Just a thought, though: Denise flew from Australia to spend a day with you – putting myself in her shoes, I would’ve felt pretty intimidated if you’d asked me, “Do you mind if I base jump down instead of rappelling and hiking back down with you?” I wouldn’t have felt comfortable asking you to stick with me, but I would’ve been pretty bummed to miss out on that extra couple hours of time hanging out with someone I admire. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    That is a very thoughtful point! I guess the really fun part of the way the day turned out was that we ended up meeting and becoming part of a group of all the parties who were on Castleton, and made some new friends as a result.

  • eburke

    I sympathize with your point, but I personally would have been thrilled to have had the chance to watch Steph jump off the top of this beautiful tower, not to mention to have spent the day climbing with her. Its not like you do much talking on a rappel and it is a pretty short hike down to where I have been told the landing spot is.

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