THERE IS NO CASTLETON TOWER

(Department of Lost Causes)

Larry Hamilton, December 2002

On USGS topographic maps, the striking formation that climbers call "Castleton Tower" has always been identified as "Castle Rock" (or more poetically, "The Castle"). Nearby are Castle Valley and Castle Creek, and there once was a small settlement named "Castleton." Obviously, the town of Castleton, like the creek and the valley, was named after the Castle. Illogically, climbers have looped back to call the tower itself "Castleton." That is, they've named the tower after the town named after the tower. This travesty notwithstanding, it's a fine thing to climb.

Below: Steve Wunsch meditates on the summit after an early ascent of "Castleton Tower" (1971); and the following day leads an unprotected offwidth on North Sixshooter Peak.


When Steve Wunsch and I made our ascent in 1971, we found just a handful of names in the summit register -- about equal numbers of famous climbers and helicopter passengers. A few Kor bathtub bolts marked the route, and we scrupulously declined to add more. One slide in my collection still alarms me: I shot the picture while looking down as Steve began to rappel off a single 1/4" bolt. Only a short sling with the ropes is attached to this bolt; I had unclipped from the anchor myself, so as not to follow him overboard should the damn thing pull out.


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