Dec. 4 rescue on Castleton Tower

Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue personnel rescued two climbers stranded mid-face on Castleton Tower on Dec. 4, 2020. [photo: Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Facebook]

Two rock climbers were left stranded in the middle of a 400' tower in freezing temperatures Friday night before being rescued by Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue personnel.

On Dec. 5, the two climbers from Washington State attempted to rappel off the north face of Castle Rock, known as Castleton Tower. However, the pair mistakenly rigged their ropes to anchors installed for a high-line between the tower and an adjacent rock group known as The Rectory. The climbers became stranded at a mid-face belay station when they could not pull their ropes through the anchors, which are not suitable for belaying.

Reportedly, similar highline anchors on Castleton had resulted in a similar rescue in 2015 after climbers mistakenly attempted to rappel down the wrong rock face.

The climbers were able to call 911 to alert search and rescue. According to a report, one rescuer rappelled to the pair after being dropped off on top of the tower by helicopter. She then rigged each of the subjects to rappel with a belay to the base of the rock.

"We’d like to remind everyone that temperatures drop precipitously in the high desert after dark, especially during the winter. Please be prepared for unplanned circumstances," Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue personnel said in a statement on their Facebook page.