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Routes in Elephant Butte

North Gorge Route T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c A1
Standard (West Fins) T 5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a
Type: Trad, 1100 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 16,932 total · 175/month
Shared By: Brian C. on Feb 13, 2010
Admins: slim, Andrew Gram, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

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Raptor Closures 2017: Check status and details at: nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/… -Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions mountainproject.com/v/utah/… in Arches National Park Details
RAIN, WET ROCK and RAPTOR CLOSURES: The sandstone around Moab is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Also please ask and be aware of Raptor Closures in areas such as CAT WALL and RESERVOIR WALL in Indian Creek Details

Route Description

Hike past Owl Rock and into the drainage on the south side of Elephant Butte. Look for a rubble filled gully leading up between two fins (see photos) and head up into it. As it narrows and ends, you will see a small fin that comes down. Climb the fin and continue up into the next meadow. Leave the meadow on the right and follow a bowl up as it steepens and dead-ends at a short wall. This wall is the crux and can be climbed on either the left or right side at about 5.3-5.4.

Once above the wall follow the steep sandstone down to the left until you see five bolt hangers that aren't visible from above. Rappel down and scramble into the lower valley.

From here, turn towards the summit and scramble up class 3/4 sandstone slabs up towards it. Angle right as you ascend and look sharp for a cairn marking a weakness in the upper cliffs. Once above the short cliff, climb up and find a short scramble that puts you on the summit plateau.

To descend: As you descend the slabs down towards the valley the first rappel put you in, aim for a small pinnacle straight below (see photos). Follow the gully next to the pinnacle down until it cliffs out. There are three old pitons that can be used for a final free hanging rappel down. From there simply hike down the gully, take a right and head back to the car and don't forget to smile about dodging the tourist crowds and climbing a seldom visited summit.

Location

Park at the Garden of Eden overlook by Owl Rock.

Protection

We had a 60m rope and some backup webbing for the two rappels.

The crux doesn't need gear but some people would appreciate a sitting belay from whoever will climb up without a belay.

Although the rest of the route is no harder than class 3/4 (if the easiest path is chosen), this route would be dangerous when wet. Also, people uncomfortable on steep sandstone slabs will not have a very good time.
Peter D Daniels
Denver, CO
  5.4
Peter D Daniels   Denver, CO
  5.4
Now that I see the mtn proj beta/photos, the route finding would have been much easier. Totally fun adventure - good times! I see varied comments on the crux step up. I was uncomfortable climbing the crux in approach shoes - asked for a short belay. Felt the moves were somewhere in the 5.4-5.5 range. For ref, I'm an novice-to-intermediate level climber - solo up to 5.3ish, trad lead into 5.5, TR around 5.9. Oct 24, 2017
Alex Zucca
University Heights
 
Alex Zucca   University Heights
 
To reach the first rappel, walk up the slab that is above a mini sand dune. Oct 23, 2017
Hey folks just a reminder that this route does require a Arches Canyoneering permit. They are free and can be found online or in front of the visitor center. Please follow park regs so that access is not further restricted. Sep 30, 2017
Just did this route, it is really fun. It is 5.4 in climbing shoes, a little harder in boots but not bad at all. I got lost on the approach and went up the descent gully, the start is just behind owl. The anchors and slings are in great shape, but bring extra webbing just in case. A sitting top belay will speed things up for a larger group. Take extra time to enjoy this route, the views are great and so is the setting inside the canyons. We also did utrun a few days earlier, which too is a blast and goes quick.

A note, someone or group should build an approach trail to keep everyone off the soil, for both the approach and descent routes. Try to keep on the rocks as much as possible. I think this route would also be fun in reverse. Ascend the 2 raps and down climb the few climbs... We plan this for our next trip.

We brought a 45 and it was good for both raps, for the 2nd, just go to the sandy platform and then it is an easy down climb, oh, a PAS is helpful at the raps. May 9, 2015
a Ball
Boulder, CO
 
a Ball   Boulder, CO
 
This route was a zoo on a monday during spring break... Mar 31, 2015
Josh Cameron
Sacramento, California
  Easy 5th
Josh Cameron   Sacramento, California
  Easy 5th
Would probably want a top belay transitioning from the downclimb after the crux to the rappel ledge. Not much for your hands and if you slipped you'd be toast. Jan 24, 2015
Heidi Riley
Santa Fe, NM
Heidi Riley   Santa Fe, NM
did both rappels with a 35 m rope. closed loop barely dragged the ground - perfect. (june 2014) Sep 5, 2014
Pawel Janowski
WA
  5.3
Pawel Janowski   WA
  5.3
50m suffices. Have fun. Awesome awesome outing! Jul 11, 2014
Chris Bartram
Boone , NC
Chris Bartram   Boone , NC
How long are the rappels? will one 50m work or do i need a 60m? Apr 17, 2014
Mark P Thomas
Draper
 
Mark P Thomas   Draper
 
Crux is thought-provoking but easy enough to do in hiking shoes. No real point in bringing pro on the climb, just a rope for the 2 rappels.

Fun route with some nice side canyons and squeeze chimneys to explore, and a great rest day detour. At a relaxed pace we were on the summit in less than two hours, and less than an hour getting out. May 4, 2013
Bradley Mark Edwards
Grand Junction, CO
 
Bradley Mark Edwards   Grand Junction, CO  
 
I didn't know what to expect when I read that there was a rappel for the ascent. Seemed backwards to me, but this was just a really good hike/climb/rappel/scramble with great panoramas and we didn't see a single person while we were there and there was some huge event in Moab that weekend. If you've got a few hours, do this. I'm taking folks real soon! Apr 4, 2013
Canon
  Easy 5th
Canon  
  Easy 5th
The short "5.3 section" is no more than 2 short moves of easy 5th class. My brother got up it in hiking shoes. Just bring a static line and some webbing for the raps. Oct 29, 2012
Paul, sorry to hear that.

We climbed it on 3/14 I believe, there was a nicely tied off cordalette around the pitons for the final repel, and a large nest of new and old slings for the first repel. Mar 27, 2012
paul bucher
moab, utah
 
paul bucher   moab, utah
 
did it again on 3/22/12 with dante. he agreed with the 5.6, this time i was able to pull the crux in my hiking boots but still feel the moves (all 3 or 4 of them) are 5.6 note; last time i fixed up the anchors and in this short time someone had removed all the bomber new stuff i left and replaced it with junk. bring cord or webbing for rap anchors! also this time we cut right at the slabs and dumped our rope at the base of the small decent tower and went up from there. saves a little bit of weight on the final part of the climb. Mar 26, 2012
paul bucher
moab, utah
 
paul bucher   moab, utah
 
what an awesome fun route! great view from the top. less complicated than you might think and easy to to find the decent. classic easy adventure. this is a must do! i would rather be cautious and call the crux 5.6. i can do 5.4 all day in hiking boots and i stopped and shoed up at the crux. i was alone and carrying a pack so it may have just felt harder than 5.4. some pro is possible but it's not going to be bomber. hope the topo helps Mar 15, 2012
Zach Allen  
 
Well worth doing. Spectacular views, and a fun little romp. Nov 8, 2010