My climbing partner Randy and I arrived in Moab Sunday about noon from SLC, and were not scheduled to meet our guide until 8 a.m. the next morning. After lunch at Eddie McStiffes, we went to Arches National Park and hiked the primitive trail loop off the Devils Garden Trail. An amazing way to spend a few hours in the desert. A great dinner followed at Miguels that night.
On Monday morning we met up with our guide Zack from Moab Desert Adventures, and immediately hit it off. [Insert shameless plug for this guiding service it could not have gone better and you couldnt get a better guide/companion than Zack] The plan for Monday was to climb some local rock to brush up on our crack climbing and layback technique (which frankly was nonexistent).
In the morning we went to a local crag, took an afternoon siesta to avoid the heat and headed back out around 4:30 p.m. to climb at Potash. While most of this area is single pitch, there is a wide variety of climbing and the belayer can literally sit on the tailgate of the truck. The dusty nature of the desert sandstone really takes some time to get comfortable on and to trust the friction.
After dinner at the Moab Brewery, and a restless night with dreams of falling, we woke early to catch a bagel and meet Zack for the 45+ minute drive into the Fishers. I had been dreaming, scheming, and researching to death Ancient Art, but nothing could have prepared me for that first sight of the formation from the Fishers campground. A winding path took us through the desert towards the tower, and off to our right we could see Castleton, the Rectory and the Priest. The closer we got, the higher the tower seemed, and the tighter the knot in my stomach got.
I knew that a desert tower was high, but standing at the start of the first pitch, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.
The first pitch is a scramble up some 5 easy stuff to a stout 5.10 bolt ladder (or A0) to the first belay. I would like to say that I did not pull on the slings to pull through the 5.10, but I cant.
The next pitch was a classic chimney. If you did it right, it was easy, it you did it wrong
well it was a long pitch.
The final bit was broken into two small pitches. A short 5.10 pitch (or A0) brought you up to the infamous diving board I did it with no style whatsoever.
The final little bit was the definition of exposure. Once across the diving board an awkward opposition move (1200 feet off the deck) brought you around to the bulge before the top.
The last piece to the top involved (in my case) pulling on a draw to gain the bulge and touch the top runner.
I have already made plans to go back and climb Castleton. Ive come to love the desert, the space, its air, and unique beauty.