First Arch Shortcut
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This is a place where minimal climbing skills can make you a hero to your non-climbing friends. There are two trails: one that wraps 2.2 miles around the base of the arches and then dead ends and another that goes to the top of First Arch. Linking these two trails is this route - an excellect way to turn your hike into a pleasant round trip.
The route goes through the slab under the arch. It is somewhat exposed and sandy but just 4th class. Some good approach shoes will make things easier. If you're coming from below, you'll see the steps carved in the short headwall about 20' up. From here I wandered right and then left to the top. You'll be soloing - no pro is available. From above the route looks rather dubious and I elected to set a rope for a handline.
The main thing to know here is that non-climbers can do this with no gear or belaying at all - if you set the rope up as a handline everyone should be fine. You might want to put small children in a harness but adults won't need any gear beyond a rope to steady themselves with.
Start from below at the end of the trail or from above from the top of First Arch.
A little bit of devious climbing is needed to get to the route from the rim - you can walk over the top of the arch and then into the bowl below or come in from the slab from the NW.
None. There is a tree at the top you can tie off.
Another view showing the carved steps.
Coming down the route with a handline.