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Argon Tower
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North Northeast T 
West Face T 

West Face 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 250', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: John Pease and Steve Cheyney ‘72
Page Views: 5,107
Submitted By: Brad Brandewie on Feb 5, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (12)
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Ian McAlexander on the first pitch.

  • Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions in Arches National Park MORE INFO >>>
  • RAIN AND WET ROCK The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    If you free this route, you are a true desert free climber.

    Pitch 1 – Climb a thin crack in a right facing corner to a ledge. There used to be an anchor here but it has been stripped of it’s hangers. Continue up the crack as it widens from #3 to #4.5 Camalot over the next 50 feet and belay at a fixed anchor in the alcove. (5.11 or C1)

    Pitch Two – Wiggle out the bombay chimney and continue up the crack passing some less than stellar rock along the way. Belay at the fixed anchor on the shoulder. (5.10- or 5.9 C1)

    Pitch Three – This pitch is shared with the North Northeast route. Climb past the lone pin to a small ledge and then make a couple easy but serious free moves to the summit. (5.8 C0)

    Rappel the Route


    Approach using a wash on the north side of the tower. Look at the summit shot below to see where this wash leaves the main drainage.


    Two sets of Camalots up to #4.5. 1 set of nuts (mostly medium to large). 1 set of small tri-cams. Extras in the #4-#5 range might not be a bad call if you’re going to be aiding or if you don’t love offwidths. 1 screamer.

    Photos of West Face Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Anonymous climber on the last pitch.
    Anonymous climber on the last pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: A wide view of one of my favorite places.
    A wide view of one of my favorite places.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing lightly on the final moves.
    Climbing lightly on the final moves.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Frank Potempa on the way down.
    Frank Potempa on the way down.

    Comments on West Face Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 10, 2015
    By Darren Knezek
    Nov 3, 2007

    Eric Bjornstad's book rates the first pitch as 5.11+, A1.
    Has anyone done this as a free climb on the lead and not on toprope?
    It seemed light years away from any 5.11 grade to me. The rest of the pitches seemed rated correctly. It's quite soft rock and I'm wondering if it has been freed by anyone in the last few years at the grade of 5.11.
    By Ben Folsom
    Nov 9, 2007

    Erica Kutcher and I climbed this route on Oct. 9th 2004. We swapped leads and both of us climbed the route entirely free. I remember the first and second pitches being harder than expected.
    By Ben Folsom
    Nov 9, 2007

    I meant the first pitch only was pretty hard. Above those anchors (which were stripped) where the crack is wider I was thinking of as the second pitch. The section above those anchors is rated 5.9 in Cameron Burns desert book. It was pretty damn hard I thought.
    By rpc
    Nov 12, 2007

    S. Green book gives drastically different ratings than C. Burns' (kind of think Green was right on and Burns is way off).
    By Matt Pickren
    Apr 22, 2008

    I climbed this route on 4-12-08. Once I got home and reracked, I realized I was missing a BD 3.5 camalot. It most likely has a small strip of orange tape on the stem nearest the lobes. If anyone climbs the West face and happens to find it either on the climb or the approach, please let me. Thanks
    By Mike
    From: Phoenix
    May 11, 2008
    rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

    I found this climb quite scary and struggled on it. The cracks are full of sand and dirt. After thrashing & whining a bit I decided to rest on a seemingly well-placed nut, which then pulled through the rock (mud?) in the crack.

    If you do this route I would recommend bringing 3 #4 Camalots.

    EDIT: Matt I didn't see your cam anywhere.
    By Matt Pickren
    May 15, 2008

    Mike, glad to hear you "enjoyed" yourself on the quality Arches entrada. Thanks for the info on my missing 3.5 camalot. -Matt
    By clay meier
    Sep 17, 2009
    rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

    This route is very hard. The crux for me was the second pitch above the offwidth squeeze chimmney. I aided a lot of this section. Offset cams might have helped with the flaring sandyness. I can lead 5.11 clean in the desert and this was not even close to what I could free... It is an amazing summit though. we rapped the route on one 70 meter (I dont think a 60 would have done it)
    By Ben Folsom
    Dec 24, 2011

    I just found a stack of pictures that Erica sent me before she was killed climbing in Pakistan. She was a great and talented climbing partner. This is nearing the top of what is now considered pitch 1. I think we split it into two and I belayed on the ledge at the top of the thin section. I remember her cruising this fist/offwidth crack. Judging by my ridiculous expression, I didn't handle it nearly as well as she.

    Rock Climbing Photo: Argon Tower - West Face
    Argon Tower - West Face
    By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
    Mar 9, 2013

    Climbed this with Cameron Tague, 2000. He led the first pitch all free, no hesitation, no falls, no hangs. I understand Bret Ruckman (or was it Marco?) freed it much earlier.
    By 20 kN
    From: Hawaii
    Apr 10, 2015

    West face, AKA Darude Sandstorm, is like a beach—literally. I am pretty sure this route has more sand on it than the entire Sahara Desert has in it. The route starts out in some really dirty, sandy, overly soft rock and then continues into a #4 wide fists. Clip the 1st belay, which of course is some old drilled angles, and then pull the chimney move. My partner couldent squeeze through with his helmet on, so he left it in the chimney. By the time we got down his helmet was filled with a pool of sand. The entire time I was belaying him I felt like I was on the bottom end of an hourglass. If this route is a classic, I cant possibly fathom what the locals consider to be choss. Even by North Dakota standards, calling this thing a classic is a stretch. On the upside, if you need some sand for a housing project, just attach some 5-gallon buckets to your gear loops and by the time you reach the 1st belay they will be entirely full.

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