My last visit to Castleton ended in defeat. This trip looked to deliver more of the same. We arrived in Castle Valley as the sun was setting and were greeted by good friends and gusting winds. After sitting around the fire for a couple of hours squinting through the gusts we decided to turn in. I shut my eyes hoping that the wind would die down during the night.
My alarm sounded bright and early so we could beat the "other parties" that would be up on the tower. We didn't know we were the only ones stupid enough to be climbing that day. The wind was still gusting but we were all antsy to get up climbing. This was Tanner's last trip before he took off for his mission to Honduras so we decided to go for it. "If it is still gusting this hard when we get up there, we will turn back," I said. Had I known what was coming I would have probably gone back to bed, but I'm glad I didn't.
After making the hour long hike to the base of the climb, the winds were actually getting worse. Before I knew it Curtis and Tanner were already up the wall. As I followed Greg up the first pitch I noticed the winds were getting stronger. Some minor dust clouds were beginning to swirl down in the valley, but by this point we were already committed. As we climbed higher the wind continued to strengthen and small pebbles pinged off of my helmet as I belayed.
I yelled up to Greg for more slack on the final pitch so I could get the rope off of a rock. The winds were so strong we couldn't communicate even though I was only 20 feet away. Eventually he belayed me up to the summit. I felt as though I was hanging on to the side of a truck on the freeway before finally swinging my self up through the last few moves.
The sky was beginning to darken with sand as we began our decent. After the rappels we had a long walk off the mountain which was no easy task. Each gust blasted sand into our eyes and made us stagger down the difficult trail. We finally wandered into camp. We sat and laughed at ourselves for what we had just done.
Like I said, had I known what we were in for when I woke up that morning I probably wouldn't have gone. But I am glad I did. I will remember this experience and the friends I was with for the rest of my life.