I’ve been to Arches probably a dozen times and finally got around to climbing this thing.
Some sources say climbing the climb is 5.3, others say 5.4, others say 5.5. Some sources say to bring cams and gear, others say gear isn’t necessary.
I decided not to take any gear with me. I was alone anyway, so it wouldn’t have been of much help (or it would have been much more trouble than it’s worth).
I’d spent the night in Moab at the Lazy Lizard Hostel (after climbing The Cheesebox and Mexican Hat the previous day). It’s the cheapest accommodation I’ve seen anywhere in the US. A bed in a dorm-type room costs only $9 and a single room costs $24. It was Thanksgiving and I was feeling fancy, so I got a room for myself.
I woke up early and drove over to Arches. The way up Elephant Butte wasn’t bad. There were a few scrambling sections. There were three or four easy 5th class steps, none of which were very exposed or more than ten feet high. I’m glad I didn’t take any more gear with me. There was one rappel, which you don’t have to do very often when ascending a mountain.
The views from the top were outstanding. You can see all of Arches, Castle Valley, and the La Sal Mountains. I made it to the top in 51 minutes from my car, and spent about ten minutes on top.
The way down required another rappel and before I knew it, I was back at my car. My total car-to-car time was 1 hour 33 minutes. I think I could probably do it in an hour now that I know the way and if I don’t spend much time on top. It was an awesome little adventure, but I do wish it had been longer. It was all over too fast.
Now I’m thinking that it would be neat to climb the highest point in each of the five national parks in Utah. But Elephant Butte is the lowest, and the rest will have to wait for summer.
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