REI Community
Elephant Buttresses

Select Area...
Dome Boulder, The 
Elephant Boulders 
First Buttress 
Fourth Buttress 
Second Buttress 
Third Buttress 

Elephant Buttresses Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 40.0125, -105.308 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 66,095
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Michael Komarnitsky on Jan 1, 2001
This Afternoon

61° | 44°

77° | 52°

70° | 47°

66° | 45°

63° | 43°

65° | 43°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
BETA PHOTO: The Elephant Buttresses. Most routes start off th...

Seasonal Closure MORE INFO >>>


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.


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.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.2 miles from here

47 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',25],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in Elephant Buttresses

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Elephant Buttresses:
Dome Boulder Traverse   V1 5     Boulder   The Dome Boulder
Flash Dihedral (Knapp Version)   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 90'   First Buttress
Standard Route   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches   Third Buttress
Standard Left Start   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches   Third Buttress
Northwest Face   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch   Fourth Buttress
Classic Finger Crack   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch   Second Buttress
Monster Woman   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   Third Buttress
Mojo Rising   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches   Third Buttress
The Heartland   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 210'   Fourth Buttress
Zolar Czakl   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Fourth Buttress
Ah Maw   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   Third Buttress
Tough Situation   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Second Buttress
Zolar Czakl (Direct)   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R     Trad, TR, 1 pitch   Fourth Buttress
Left Wing   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch   Third Buttress
Flake   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R     Trad, TR, 1 pitch   Fourth Buttress
Wingtip   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 65'   Third Buttress
What's Up?   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 2 pitches   Third Buttress
FM   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch   Third Buttress
Avalon Rising   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Trad, Sport, TR, 1 pitch   Second Buttress
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Elephant Buttresses

Featured Route For Elephant Buttresses
Rock Climbing Photo: Left Wing follows the L facing dihedral and angles...

Left Wing 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b  Colorado : Boulder Canyon : ... : Third Buttress
Cool route with interesting moves. My limited trad experience kept my evaluation to a modest two stars.The route starts about halfway up the 4th class gully between the second and third buttresses. The climb itself is on the third Buttress. Begin by traversing right across a ledge into the obvious dihedral. Some small, good placements will get you up to a new bolt that protects a few feet below the roof and the first crux. Clip this and then a fixed Friend in the overhead crack. My buddy w...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Elephant Buttresses Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Is this any established route or a FA?
BETA PHOTO: Is this any established route or a FA?
Rock Climbing Photo: Second Elephant Buttress  1. Tough Situation (5.9+...
BETA PHOTO: Second Elephant Buttress 1. Tough Situation (5.9+...
Rock Climbing Photo: Elephant Buttresses panorama.
Elephant Buttresses panorama.
Rock Climbing Photo: Third Buttress 1. Standard Route (7+) 2. West Face...
BETA PHOTO: Third Buttress 1. Standard Route (7+) 2. West Face...

Comments on Elephant Buttresses Add Comment
Show which comments
By Kevin Currigan
From: Lakewood
Aug 18, 2003
Ya gotta do the tunnel at least once for the experience. I thought it was great and I am not fond of caves.
By Phil Lauffen
From: The Bubble
Aug 11, 2008
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?
By Phil Lauffen
From: The Bubble
Aug 11, 2008
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?
By Ivan Rezucha
From: Fort Collins, CO
May 16, 2009
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.
By skye bacus
From: Lakewood, CO
Aug 10, 2015
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.
By Paul Deger
Sep 18, 2016
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.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · People · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About