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Areas in Elephant Buttresses

Dome Boulder, The 0 / 0 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
Elephant Boulders 0 / 0 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 2
First Buttress 4 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Fourth Buttress 14 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 15
Second Buttress 6 / 1 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 6
Third Buttress 14 / 0 / 5 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 14
Topknot 4 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Access Issue: Seasonal Closure - 2018 Update Details

Description

The four blocky towers known as the Elephant Buttresses lie just to the right of the Dome. They are numbered one through four from left to right. Almost all the routes are trad; no sport routes here. Some routes have old fixed pins; not many have bolts. An irrigation water pipe runs along the base of these crags.

Be careful of poison ivy; this area has it in abundance!

Some of the classic routes include: Tough Situation (9+) and Classic Finger Crack (9) on the Second Buttress; Standard Route (7+), Left Wing (10), and FM (11) on the Third Buttress, and Northwest Face (8) on the Fourth Buttress.

Getting There

Approach as for the Dome. Park in a small pullout on the right 0.5 miles up the canyon, or in a large parking area on the left. Cross the bridge over the creek and turn right. Follow the new climber's access trail up to the aqueduct. Turn right and walk along a trail to the water pipe; watch out for poison ivy! Continue along the water pipe to the crag you want to climb. The pipe ends at a water tunnel between the Third and Fourth Buttress.

Descents

There are several ways to descend from the top of these crags:

  • The easiest walk-off is to head left (north) toward the Dome, and descend a trail down to the aqueduct just left of the First Buttress.
  • You can scramble down between the Second and Third Buttress to a tree atop Pine Tree Route, and rappel 90' back to the water pipe.
  • If the water level is low enough, you can descend to a tunnel between the Third and Fourth Buttress, and walk through the tunnel back to the water pipe. Be prepared for darkness and wet legs/feet!
  • You can downclimb the steep, 4th-class gully between the Second and Third Buttress; tricky in spots and not recommended for novices.

47 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Elephant Buttresses

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
 41
Flash Dihedral (Knapp Version)
Trad, TR
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 180
Standard Route
Trad 2 pitches
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
 8
Standard Left Start
Trad 2 pitches
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 139
Northwest Face
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 130
Classic Finger Crack
Trad
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 38
Mojo Rising
Trad 2 pitches
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 48
Monster Woman
Trad 2 pitches
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
 15
Zolar Czakl
Trad
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 89
Tough Situation
Trad
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R
 18
Flake
Trad, TR
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 68
Left Wing
Trad, TR
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
 20
Wingtip
Trad, TR
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
 16
What's Up?
Trad 2 pitches
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
 42
FM
Trad
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 4
Avalon Rising
Trad, Sport, TR
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Flash Dihedral (Knapp Version) First Buttress
 41
5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad, TR
Standard Route Third Buttress
 180
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Standard Left Start Third Buttress
 8
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad 2 pitches
Northwest Face Fourth Buttress
 139
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Classic Finger Crack Second Buttress
 130
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Mojo Rising Third Buttress
 38
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Monster Woman Third Buttress
 48
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 2 pitches
Zolar Czakl Fourth Buttress
 15
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad
Tough Situation Second Buttress
 89
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Flake Fourth Buttress
 18
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R Trad, TR
Left Wing Third Buttress
 68
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Trad, TR
Wingtip Third Buttress
 20
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13 Trad, TR
What's Up? Third Buttress
 16
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Trad 2 pitches
FM Third Buttress
 42
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Trad
Avalon Rising Second Buttress
 4
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Trad, Sport, TR
More Classic Climbs in Elephant Buttresses »

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Photos

Kevin Currigan
Lakewood
Kevin Currigan   Lakewood
Ya gotta do the tunnel at least once for the experience. I thought it was great and I am not fond of caves. Aug 18, 2003
Phil Lauffen
The Bubble
Phil Lauffen   The Bubble
Ok, I feel kinda dumb for asking this but I was at the Elephant Buttress this night and we headed up a chimney onsight somewhere in the vicinity of the 1st maybe 2nd pinnacle, but I don't think it was the chimney listed in the 2nd pinnacle's list. We headed up a chimney until it got too wide then climbed up a crack on the south side of the chimney. The chimney itself was probably .7- but the crack was reaching into the .9 territory. Does this sound familiar? Aug 11, 2008
Phil Lauffen
The Bubble
Phil Lauffen   The Bubble
Actually after looking at the picture again I realize I wasn't really on a ROUTE. We ended up chimneying up the crack kinda directly between the 1st and 2nd buttress, then squirming up the crack on the right. Weird route. Anyone know if it's got a name? Aug 11, 2008
Ivan Rezucha
Fort Collins, CO
Ivan Rezucha   Fort Collins, CO
There is currently a very nice, large and extremely clear photo of the Elephant Buttresses at the Boulder Library as part of the ditch exhibit. All of the popular climbs are very visible. It's worth a look. The history of the Silver Lake Ditch and the other ditches is very interesting. There's a working model of the two "tram lines" used to move the pipes during the 2008 rebuild of the pipe below Elephant Buttresses. May 16, 2009
skye bacus
Lakewood, CO
skye bacus   Lakewood, CO
Watch out for snakes. I saw 3 on 8/9/2015. My friend's hand was bitten by a baby snake that was chilling on a hold that was above eye level on the 1st buttress. Luckily, it wasn't a rattlesnake. Aug 10, 2015
Paul Deger
Colorado
Paul Deger   Colorado
Went to the First Buttress today to do the Dihedral. Per the instructions, all routes come off the pipeline, but after doing a grungy route full of lichen well over 90' on the descent, it looked like the route more West and comes off the aquaduct. Sep 18, 2016

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