Blaze of Glory

Rectory Tower

Author’s note: Climber/Photographer Dave Montgomery of Morrison, CO, had this to say about his photo, to which there is nothing to add. “I took [the photo] with a piece-of-crap 4 megapixel point and shoot after raping off of Castleton Tower. I looked over at the Rectory and the lighting was just stunning! I guess it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have, just gotta be in the right place at the right time. To top it off, my buddy had a lukewarm PBR in his pack!”

At least half of the following is God’s honest truth. I have been diligently pursuing the details of this adventure for two years and was finally rewarded after filling one of the participants with my home-brewed lager a few weeks ago. The names of those involved have not been changed to obscure their identities, as they fear no one.

Located just to the north of Moab, the crumbling rock towers of Utah’s Castle Valley stand broken and forlorn, ancient guardians of time itself. The routes up the fantastic sun-blasted sheer ruby shards of sandstone make this a destination for climbers from around the globe. Traveling through the valley is like having a vivid daydream of exploring some forgotten canyon system on the face of Mars.

Located within the dream is a structure known as “The Rectory” (far left in the photo above). It was on top of this floating sky-island in 1990 (am I the only one who looks at this terrain and thinks of the psychedelic mindscapes created by Roger Dean for the albums released by the band “Yes” in the ’70s?), that a production team chose to desecrate, err, utilize for the filming of the music video to the soundtrack for the movie, “Young Guns II”, and Jon Bon Jovi hit single, “Blaze of Glory”. Even non-climbers may recall the scene, a forgotten ’50s-era drive-in movie theater set upon on a patch of floating desert, crooked stands for the PA system scattered amongst the boulders and wrecks of old cars hoisted by helicopter to the top.

Amidst this faded scene of epic Americana stands Jon Bon Jovi with flowing locks, bone necklace over bare chest and leather pants so tight he had no trouble hitting the high notes, bravely belting out his tune to the setting sun. (Can I get a little “hell yeah!” right here?) It was this location that an associate of mine chose for an epic party of his own. Invitations were sent, and along with time and place, instructions were given to each party for supplies that must be brought along, and up, the 400-foot ascent to the top. For the overnight stay, bags of ice, bundles of firewood, a grill, water, fresh food, dogs, a stereo, several kegs of beer and someone’s non-climbing girlfriend had to be accounted for. No means for the delivery of these items was suggested, with their presence simply dictated as ticket to the party. The details of the “hoist”, as it has become known, could fill this volume, so suffice it to say that the mission was accomplished and a large party began, one fit for the heroic nature of the place, and the time.

Recollections vary, but by some accounts, the kegs chosen for the evening may have been filled with several of the following brews. An obvious choice would have been Durango Brewing Co.’s D-Wheat (Durango Wheat). This locals’ favorite is light and refreshing, enjoyable both by the pint and the gallon. Another strong contender, though perhaps not available at the time of the climb several years ago, is Ska Brewing Co.’s Mexican Logger. If you have not tried this, better grab a sixer and kiss the clear-bottled piss from south of the border farewell. All of what you love about a fresh Mexican lager beer is contained in these cans, with none of the foul skunk flavors, nor pretence of being mysterious and “the most interesting beer in the world”. If not this beer, then smart money would rest on the Colorado Kolsch from Steamworks Brewing Co. With the finest labeling of any beer in a can anywhere (the Colorado flag *prominently* adorns the front), Steamworks Kolsch is the perfect substitute for the flavorless cans of macro-filth that one might otherwise choose to waste their money on. But for the coup-de-grace, for a beverage so rare and extraordinary as to match the nature of the revelry described above, one must assume that a barrel of the Celebrated Raspberry Wheat from Carver Brewing Co. would have been called for by name. Pink as the satin panties that your high school girlfriend wore, this nectar of the gods has been known to cause strong men from Texas to burst into spontaneous song, and bring tears of joy to the bravest of women. Yes, my money is on the “pink” for keg #2.

As for the party? Apparently, the “amount of firewood needed” calculation had been low, so in a fit of recycling hubris, vast quantities of the timbers (aka, garbage) that had been left behind from the filming of the video in 1990 were added to the flames, in whose blaze of glory the climbers howled and danced under the bright desert light of the full moon.

Erich Hennig lives in Durango, CO, and would love to hear from you: 

9 thoughts on “Blaze of Glory”

  1. a GREAT beer-drinking (and whatever inevitably comes with it) story!
    (are you sure Castle Valley is ‘just to the north of’? (I ain’t go no maps to check)

    i’m amazed (alledgedly) no-body fell off?

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