Aires Butte (aka Led by Sheep), 5.6, 5 Pitches

Aires Butte (aka Led by Sheep), 5.6, 5 Pitches

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.23250°N / 112.9077°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.7 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 5
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Mount Ariel

This is a 2300’+/- ascent day. The ideal time to climb Mount Ariel is in the summer when it is drier. Weather was an issue in March of 2006 and Mount Ariel is not near the commitment that the big wall climbs can be. At that time you did not find this route in any of the local or state-wide guide books or even on line for that matter. However, it has become a fairly common objective over time. It is a very aesthetic looking mountain, similar to Ferns Nipple in Capitol Reef National Park, but does not take near as long on the approach. Like Mountain of the Sun directly to the west, Mount Ariel has a very scenic and laid back approach and the climb is basically a glorified scramble up 5th class. The person who put it in is not known for his climbing skills, but rather one of the many aid climbers in the area seeking his "15 minutes of fame". He is "real proud" of this route, but it barely registers as a climb in terms of challenge.

Mount Ariel

Once you are down into the wash from the road, follow it along for a short distance until you have to descend deeper into it and rise back up onto the left bank bypassing a slot canyon on your left. Continue hiking along firm rock rising onto a large plateau that overlooks Mount Ariel to the northwest. The barren lava type landscape continues directly to the base of the mountain on the southeast side. Top out here and move around to your right until you are right below a huge slabby line that is the route. There is just enough flat ground here to change out shoes and rope up. There are no gear placements as you head up to the first bolt and in fact most of this route is run out quite a bit. Due to the ease of the climb I never had problems with it, but I have partners who definitely would have.

Route Description

The first pitch leads straight up and then looks confusing as you try to find the pitons/bolts. It traverses up quite a bit to the right. The middle three pitches seemed really tame, but avoid dropping loose rock and sand down on your partner. I don’t remember placing much gear at all or really having the opportunity for it. The last pitch is short, but uneventful. That being said, my partner said the last time he was out on it, his partner would not complete the pitch because he thought it was too run out. I found it to be just above scrambling grade.

Mount Ariel

You top out onto a multitude of loose ledges. Scramble to the actual summit which, like many of the peaks in Zion National Park, is just a huge flat top summit where the sheep actually go to graze. Another common phenomenon that is really apparent on Mount Ariel is the burnt out patches of trees due to lightning strikes. When one of Zion’s peaks is surrounded by deep canyons on all sides, i.e. Mount Ariel, it becomes a lightning rod. There was a summit register in 2006.

You rap the whole route on descent. I don’t remember the exact raps, but you can rap to existing stations with two 60 meter ropes. Return the same.

External Links

  • The Many Free Routes in Zion National Park
  • Oscar’s Café, the only place for climbers to truly fill their appetite (free range chicken, beef and Hank’s Tanker) and meet one of the finer climbers and individuals I know on the face of the earth, Zach Lee, someone who has established many of his own local FA’s in the area.
  • Zion National Park
    trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices/closures, weather conditions, camping permits, canyon water levels, etc.
  • Best True Technical Clothing and Accessories in the Outdoor Industry, Hands Down....the Legit Climbers Gear at Real Prices
  • Scarpa, has surpassed La Sportiva in terms of quality, function, value and actually stand by their warranties
  • Osprey Backpacks, Not a Second Choice
  • Great Outdoors Depot

Essential Gear

2- 60 meter ropes. Few Cams, a few nuts, several draws, some long slings. Climbing shoes. Sandstone colored chalk. Helmet.