Three Towers, One (Long) Day

From IMCS Guide Michael Wejchert:

What do you do when every national park is closed? Well, going to the desert drinking Tecate and limes, and climbing desert towers is a good place to start. My good old college friend Nate Popik and I had intended to climb the Moonlight Buttress in Zion: Nate had one more pitch to free, and I just wanted to toprope the thing. A 10 pitch, 5.12 toprope? Sounds great!

But with the government shut down, we chose our backup plan: Moab, Utah, where we got on some old favorites. I hadn’t been to the desert in three or so years, and it’s where I learned to crack climb, so it was great to be back! We focused on the “Triple Nipple:” climbing each tower in the Castle Valley skyline in a single day. Fine Jade, a 5.11 crack climb, Honeymoon Chimney, another 5.11 tower with a scary, 5.9 offwidth pitch and an unprotectable chimney pitch, and the splitter, 5.11 North Face of Castleton Tower.

We set off early—too early, in fact. Nate insisted on a 3:00 wake-up, claiming my time as a guide had softened my resolve. Actually, my time as a guide lets me know when to wake up in the morning. Not 3:00 for rock climbing. Ever. After an hour of waiting at the base, we started off. 12 pitches, a lot of rappelling, and a lot of walking brought us back down to the base of Castleton 12 hours later, tired and pretty excited. We had sent the Triple!

Here are some photos from our day of scrambling.

Nate racking up.

Nate racking up.

Waiting at the base of Fine Jade. Good timing, Nate.

Waiting at the base of Fine Jade. Good timing, Nate.

Castleton in the wee hours.

Castleton in the wee hours.

Honeymoon Chimney: psyched to never climb it again.

Honeymoon Chimney: psyched to never climb it again.

Nate charging up the last tower of the day: 1st pitch of Castleton.

Nate charging up the last tower of the day: 1st pitch of Castleton.

Finally done!

Finally done!