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Sister Superior – Castleton Link Up

March 11, 2011

After spending a few days climbing in Indian Creek, Jeremy and I decided that we wanted to climb two towers in a day. We planned to climb Jah Man on Sister Superior, and then drive over to the Fisher Tower area and climb Ancient Art. Our plans didn’t pan out exactly as we thought they would, but we had a successful day nonetheless.

We started our day at 8 am by driving from our camp at the base of Castleton to the Sister Superior trailhead. After 15 minutes of hiking we were lost, but found the trail fairly quickly and made it to the base of Jah Man by 9:30 am. I led the first pitch, which was a tight chimney. I took me five minutes just to get my body in to the chimney, and I eventually squirmed my way to the top.

If you look closely, you can see Jeremy in green and red entering the squeeze chimney. Photograph by Jacob B.

Jeremy led the next two pitches. Somehow, we had mixed up the Friend-to-Camalot conversion and ended up with a lot of gear that we didn’t need, and not enough of the gear that we did need. Luckily for me, Jeremy was the one climbing the only pitch where this mattered. After an involuntary and scary run-out, he finished the third pitch. I finished the route on a bolted 5.9 corner and topped out. From the summit we could see the ever-prominent Castleton Tower, and in the distance, the snow covered LaSal Range.


Jeremy, pitch 2. Photograph by Jacob B.

Me, contemplating the last pitch. Photograph by Jeremy H.

Jeremy topping out on Sis. Superior. Photograph by Jacob B.

On top. Photograph by Jeremy H.

Photograph by Jacob B.

To our shared horror, our ropes got stuck on the first rappel. Hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s Red Rocks epic, I had brought along a Tibloc. I tried to contain my frustration and disappointment and rigged up my ascending system and started up the rope. In a stroke of good fortune, the ropes pulled free after only a few feet of ascending. Crisis averted.


Me getting ready to ascend. Photograph by Jeremy H.

Water bottles and Bart greeted us at the base, and we headed down the trail. We were a little behind schedule, but we expected Ancient Art to be a fairly easy route so we ate a small lunch and headed towards the Fisher Towers.

After hiking for about 10 minutes, we met a couple guys running down the trail away from the tower. They told us that they had already been waiting to get on the route for 2.5 hours, and that they were running back to the car to eat lunch before they climbed. Apparently this is a popular route. We promptly turned around. I took a picture while we drove away just to prove that we were there:


Proof. Photograph by Jacob B.

As we drove back to camp we discussed the various ways that we could spend the rest of our day. I was pretty bummed about not getting two towers in one day, but it was 3 o’clock and I wasn’t sure I had enough juice in me hike all the way to Castleton. My legs felt strong, but my arms were toast, so we struck a deal: Jeremy would lead the two hard pitches and I would carry all the gear. We decided to climb the Kor-Ingalls route, not because it is a fun route, but because it would be the easiest to bail off if we got caught in the dark.

The approach was not necessarily enjoyable, but we made good time. The route was already completely in the shade when I led the first pitch. Jeremy led the second and third pitches as the sun sank steadily towards the horizon.


Jeremy. Photograph by Jacob B.

Photograph by Jacob B.

I led the last pitch as the sun set. As soon as I got to the top I pulled my camera out and snapped a picture.


Just in time. Photograph by Jacob B.


On top, about to be not on top. Photograph by Jeremy H.

We had a delightfully uneventful rappel in the dark, packed up, and started the long walk back to camp.

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