Classic Climbs: Castleton Tower and the Rectory

Why settle for just one classic when there are two right next to each other? It’s no mystery why Castleton Tower is considered one of the classic desert climbs of the American Southwest. Mountain Project’s introduction says “Castleton Tower is probably the most famous desert tower in the world”. Well, there you have it. 

The Rectory, Castleton’s slightly lesser known, next-door neighbor, was likely a part of the same tower at one point, but erosion has since created a sizable gap between the two. If you are wondering what the Rectory is all about, you may already know more than you think. In 1990, Jon Bon Jovi made a video on the summit. 

Despite being such iconic summits, this place is a "classic" to our family for more personal reasons. Lisa and I climbed Fine Jade and the North Chimney one Easter weekend about ten years ago and I proposed to her on the summit, while warm evening light cast long shadows across the desert valley. Some years later, our son Zane was likely the youngest person to climb Castleton at the time at age nine. Since our engagement on Castleton Tower, climbing has taken us around the world and back, ten years rich in adventure and experiences. 

This desert is a special and spiritual place for us. There’s something about the deserts of the Colorado Plateau, with its winding canyons, soft red rock and sky-scraping pinnacles. Every time I return it is like arriving for the first time again, my eyes pinned to the windows, watching the red sandstone walls passing by, my soul is welcoming me home. 

It only seemed fitting to return to Castleton Tower and the Rectory to celebrate our ten-year anniversary. We climbed Castleton’s North Face route, a 5.11, this time and planned to spend the night on the summit. We’d been focusing on doing everything in a day for so long; why not enjoy the summit for more than a few minutes?