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Astro Elephant 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.10- French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Reid Dowdle, Dave Hough, 1982
Season: summer
Page Views: 19,832
Submitted By: Clint Cummins on Jul 20, 2007

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BETA PHOTO: Where to start Astro E


A relatively moderate but sustained outing, with 2 5.10 pitches followed by several 5.9 pitches. An easier version can be done by starting on Sideline, which avoids the 5.10 pitches.

Check out Brad Brandewie's photo trip report.


Center of South face, starting 100' above the chockstone in the descent gully. (Lower 5th class to climb around chockstone).


standard rack, including a 3.5" cam.

Photos of Astro Elephant Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: We're maybe half way up the route here and again w...
We're maybe half way up the route here and again w...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lots of people get off route on Astro Elephant loo...
BETA PHOTO: Lots of people get off route on Astro Elephant loo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Astro Elephant Photo by Aerili
Astro Elephant Photo by Aerili
Rock Climbing Photo: Here's a shot of Guillaume, fully off-route and no...
Here's a shot of Guillaume, fully off-route and no...
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant's Perch - South Face  8. Lost Horizons 5....
BETA PHOTO: Elephant's Perch - South Face 8. Lost Horizons 5....
Rock Climbing Photo: Astro Elephant
Astro Elephant
Rock Climbing Photo: Guillaume Dargaud on the second pitch.  I don't kn...
Guillaume Dargaud on the second pitch. I don't kn...
Rock Climbing Photo: Exposure!
Rock Climbing Photo: First pitch of Astro Elephant
First pitch of Astro Elephant
Rock Climbing Photo: Astro Elephant route overview shot taken from the ...
BETA PHOTO: Astro Elephant route overview shot taken from the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Astro Elephant Aerili on the Summit
Astro Elephant Aerili on the Summit
Rock Climbing Photo: Struggling to comprehend the view. The beauty of t...
Struggling to comprehend the view. The beauty of t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jenny on the amazing dihedral to finish the pitch ...
BETA PHOTO: Jenny on the amazing dihedral to finish the pitch ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cory styles the short but sweet last pitch 9+ fing...
Cory styles the short but sweet last pitch 9+ fing...
Rock Climbing Photo: topo of Astro Elephant by Reid Dowdle, with some e...
BETA PHOTO: topo of Astro Elephant by Reid Dowdle, with some e...

Comments on Astro Elephant Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 27, 2017
By Scotty Nelson
From: Boulder
Aug 5, 2008

Great route! Climbing the original start with a 70m, you can link 1+2 (long pitch!) and 3+4.
By Wyatt Payne
From: Littleton CO
Dec 16, 2009

In 2008 Stu Ritchie and I got lost before we even started climbing
Astro Elephant. Everything looked as expected through the first pitch. As I lead out on the second after turning a corner and expecting to find a RF dihedral I was facing what looked more like a shallow right facing bomb bay that went up to a long horizontal roof. Very long story short we knew that we screwed the pooch badly. To remedy that situation I lead straight out Right below the roof. During that process I clipped a vertically driven knife blade, placed a .5 cam that I wouldn't want to hang a rice cake off of and traversed on slabby feet Way right. Then I hit a weakness and punched up over the top of the roof to belayed Stu over. Then I traversed slightly down and right on a slab then moved up to a weakness (Shallow vegetated crack), and then ran like crazy up and right all the way to the main ledge of Astro Elephant (70ish meters). Along the second pitch we clipped several bail anchors and some gear that looked like aid from previous parties. After looking at the climbing legend poster at the Elephant's Perch shop it looks like we came up Elephant Eye Variation 3b then traversed right over to Elephant's eye proper to belay, then way up and right to rejoin Astro Elephant. Climbing felt 11-hard. If anyone knows where the hell we were or what we may have unintentionally freed please let me know.

This was very exciting and committing, so be careful where you start out on AE if you don't want to step that route up substantially.
By ChrisAlex5
From: Portland, OR
Aug 9, 2010

Did EXACTLY the same thing as Wyatt this past weekend. I would add that one would be ill-advised to follow the route highlighted in blue on the photo in the trip report linked above, at Piquaclimber, as that line's lower pitches trace the path exactly as Wyatt describes (and NOT the correct line).

Sidenote: With Josh leading (and aiding) the sketchy traverse under the roof, the aforementioned vertically-driven Knifeblade (Lost Arrow) popped out, just under body weight! Anyone have any FA beta on Elephant's Eye?...I'm curious how old it might be.
By Brad Brandewie
Aug 10, 2010

Sorry for the confusion guys.

I thought I had changed that picture years ago to show the correct line. I will make sure it is corrected tonight.

By Tim Wolfe
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 2, 2011
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Having climbed both the left and right starts I suggest the left version as it is more aesthetic and the right side had a pretty concerning loose block that I could not avoid. Absolutely wonderful route, the big bivy type ledge up high reminds me of being on El Capitan. One of the more moderate routes on the mountain but you still need to have serious skills at gear placement to keep it safe.
By Jeffrey Gagliano
From: Pennsburg, PA
Sep 13, 2011

Just climbed this two weeks ago. Lead every pitch. Route finding was not too bad. Pithch 1 is signifacntly harder than pitch 2. The 5.8 bomb-bay chimney is challenging as was the "5.7" chimney encountered later. Though the best pitch was the 9+ traverse around and exposed areate high on the route with scant gear. Thrilling!
By claytown
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 9, 2012

Amazing route that is a lot of fun. You can link the two 5.10 pitches with a single 60m rope. Then one more long pitch takes you to the ledge with the tree. Combining those and not counting the P6 ledge traverse, the route ends up being 7 pitches. A single 60 was fine but your call in case you have to bail.

Routefinding beta.

1) Start above the descent gully chockstone. You start behind a tree and are aiming for the big trees on the ledge. You should not hit any big roofs in this section if you are on route. 2 full 60m pitches will get you to the ledge.

2) From above the 5.8 chimney you have to traverse about 60 - 80 feet left (P6 on the topo) before you start up from atop stacked boulders near the arete. Your first hold will be a two-handed super jug hueco. then you step right, climb a flake, traverse back left passing a white piece of tat, pull the 5.9 face moves and keep moving left (leaving a nut to protect the second). There are two other places you could start up too far to the right that will put you into 11r territory. The left of the two wrong variations had a fixed bail biner on it. Look for the ratty sling and avoid bail biners. The correct starting point for pitch 7 is the right side of the stacked blocks on the highest point of the ledge system. I will try to post a pic with more info as this is really the only place to get off route besides maybe the first pitch. (edit: see pics for this route for more beta)
By Aaron Miller
From: Santa Fe, NM
Jun 21, 2013

Great route with really good belays (if you link first 2 pitches, which you will work for). Never really saw how 3 and 4 would be any more than one pitch. Only 130 feet and there wasn't anywhere Id want to stop and belay.

Pitch 7 (after ledge traverse) is amazing, best pitch on route!!! Great position and movement up to a great belay ledge, you will love it. Just note that you start it by moving up a little and back towards the right about 10 feet (through the cool big pocket)to avoid the first obvious dihedral. You want to ascend the second right-facing flake-like feature.
By Dougald MacDonald
Aug 7, 2013

If you want to be clear on the start of AE, print the Sideline topo, which shows the relationship between Astro-Elephant and Sideline very clearly. We were so concerned about the various comments about ending up too far left at the start of AE that we ended up doing Sideline by mistake. If we'd had the topo for the latter, it would have been crystal-clear. Still a great route.
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 25, 2014

Despite people posting that you can "only" get off-route on pitch 1, 7, or 1,000, we found the hardest route-finding to be at the very top! Starting at pitch 9, apparently our belay was not far enough right. Due to our error, it would seem that the belay must be moved very far right at this point - past an obvious place where the pitch seems to start via a straight-up crack and a left-trending ramp that converge at a constriction, both of which can and have been climbed (and where a fixed green Alien exists at the time of this writing). Our error took us up two pitches of relatively sustained 10+ licheny climbing. Exciting! Others clearly made similar mistakes as the semi-hanging belay just beneath a roof at the end of this particular pitch 9 variation has a permanent rap sling anchor.

At this point, we chose not to rap and re-calculate but to fire pitch 10 via the long, difficult, and dirty traverse right to the supposed "actual" end of pitch 9 (if clean, this traverse would be pretty stellar). From there, the finishing options to the top seemed to jive with the Cummins topo. Because we were tired and thirsty, we chose to take the 5.9 vs the 9+ finish to make our day a little easier. Everything in the first 40 feet seemed okay (right-angling crack to a grovelly bulge) and then it appears the topo says to go straight up a steep, hard, essentially unprotected face. Um, what. At that point we finished by continuing right on a ridiculously-exposed hand traverse filled with loose chockstones, belaying again (yarg), then going up the last 30 feet to the summit via some funky face moves. While none of it was "easy" or offered ideal protection or clean rock, this way worked and we are still puzzling over the real finish.

As a last thought, if you buy the Perch topo poster at the Ketchum shop, it shows A-E as joining with Myopia at the end (going faaar left vs right) and seemed to indicate we potentially climbed upper sections of the Elephant's Eye route instead, then summited on unnamed cracks and face to its right. So my beta about pitch 9 here may be irrelevant. Whatever you do, be solid at the grade.
By Wally29
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 18, 2015

The 5th class scrambling up the descent gully was more serious in our opinions than the description states. We were soloing with approach shoes and gear on our backs and were both surprised by the serious nature of the moves (high consequences). Especially since the rock was slightly wet. You do not just surpass a chockstone. There are 3 different 5th class sections before you are walking again up the descent gully. We ran into a guide later that day and he said that he usually ropes up for that section. We almost had a bad accident here so I thought I make this description a little accurate for safety purposes.
By Mike McMahon
From: Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Jul 19, 2015

Here is a trip report from Astro Elephant (and other Sawtooth climbs)... It contains some generally worthless beta and quite a few photos of the route.
By Trevor.
From: Boise, ID
Jul 24, 2015

I too made the same mistake as Wyatt and a few others, heading up what seemed like the correct dihedral to a roof, but once we started the second pitch it quickly became obvious we were off route. We tried to work our way onto the route through some horizontal roof traversing, but my partner got some nasty ropeburn in a big pendulum fall so we wound up bailing.

The incorrect route we went up started below a massive roof. This is wrong. Move right ~50ft to get to the right start.
By Reid Dowdle
Apr 7, 2017

Dave Hough and myself did this in the summer of 82. We were very into doing a route in the proper style of the day. Rope,rack, shirt on your back was the ideal. Head up to an unknown wall and climb to the top. No aid, no bolts, no fixed ropes. Luckily, this worked out. Not hard by todays' standards or even the 80s' but very exciting launching into the unknown, particularly the pitch off the traverse ledge. If you're new to trad/multi-pitch this route will test your gear placing, route finding, rope management and keeping a cool head skills. First pitch surprises a lot of people. Hang off an end-wise fist jam often?
Some helpful tips; To find the correct start you have to bypass the big boulder blocking the approach gully and then get back in the gully once above it. Continue up (walking) the gully another 50-75ft.
A lot of people looking for the pitch off the traverse ledge start up too early. There is often gear visible above you once past the chimney (pitch 5) This is bail gear headed up Elephants Eye. I usually tell people to go out this traverse ledge as far as possible. It comes to an abrupt and definite end. You cannot go any further. Your mouth will drop looking across an ocean of rock (Divine Guidance terrain). Come back a ways (maybe 30-40 ft.) and look for the first possibility to head up. The crack you're looking for is desperate and dirty looking for the first 10-15 ft. You don't climb this but traverse into it from the left to avoid the ugly part. Hard to see face holds lead right to connect with the crack. This crack is followed till it cuts left and you make a dramatic step around an arete. You will disappear from your belayers' view and have to make some committing moves.
A few old bolts are visible after exiting the chimney (pitch 5) These are from an old T.V. movie that was filmed up here in the late 70s'.
As others have mentioned this route is an oven on a summer day.

By Scott
Sep 27, 2017
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Offset cams were useful on this climb, particularly on the 5.9 slab traverse after the big ledge.

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