Argon Tower is a 270-foot tall Entrada sandstone formation located in Arches National Park. The tower lies a few hundred yards south of The Three Gossips formation (slightly SE) and at the northern end of the Park Avenue “Canyon” (west side). It is separated from its parent cliff (unnamed) by about 150 feet. It therefore tends to blend in with the background when viewed from the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint. Most dramatic views of the spire can be had from the Park Avenue Trail.
The tower has 4 established (and published) routes on it. These are either 3 or 4 (short) pitches in length. If the West Face
route is a good representation of all climbing on this tower, then it can be said that the rock here is generally worse than on The Three Gossips
– softer and more sandy – with a particularly nasty band being located just below the summit (sand held together by spit).
Courthouse Group from ZE
From US 191 just north of Moab (3 minutes driving time to downtown), Utah turn into Arches National Park (on NE side of US 191) via the main park entrance (Visitors’ Center complex is right here as well). Drive about 3.5 miles from the visitors' center to the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint - a paved parking lot on the right side of the park road. Leave your car here. Argon Tower is now visible across the road and almost directly south.
From the south end of Courthouse Towers Viewpoint, cross the road and start hiking south on Park Avenue Trail (there’s a information board at the beginning of this trail near the road). Few minutes into the hike, the trail hits some flat slabs. At this point, make your way right across the slabs and into a wash that heads south towards the tower’s west face. Minimize trampling the crypto soil!
The wash ends just below the pedestal on which Argon Tower stands. Hike up a soft ridge. Again, try to avoid trampling the soil as much as possible (do as much boulder hopping as you can). There’s a 4th class move involved higher up – step up onto a pile of rocks and mantle onto a low angle slab above. A bit more boulder hopping will bring you to the gentle slabs beneath the west face of the tower. Access to all routes on the formation is from here.
Argon Tower is located within Arches National Park. In addition to the entrance fees (see below) the usual backcountry behavior rules of the national parks apply here (no dogs in backcountry, no power drills, tread lightly, leave no trace etc….). Backcountry camping is allowed in designated areas only and you’ll need an overnight permit.
Entrance fees are as follows:
7-day pass (minimum required) is $10 per passenger vehicle. Entrance fee details can be found on the official NPS website here
When To Climb
Given the desert (albeit high
desert) environment, the rock is climbable year-round. Keep in mind that winters can be wet and chilly and summers are no doubt unbearably hot. If "forced" to climb under less than optimal conditions, adjust your choice of routes (east vs. west facing).
Also check: Moab Climate Summary Page
Car camping within Arches National Park will cost you $10 per night. Details of fees, reservations, regulations etc. can be found here
(official NPS website). Backcountry camping information can be found here
Unofficially, you can find very good camping at large on BLM land especially in Castle Valley. Good primitive camp sites can be found at the standard trailheads for Castleton Tower
The NPS has a climbing page on their official park website. It gives good information about seasonal and other route and formation closures. It can be found here
. For more up to date conditions, try calling the visitors center (NPS contact information can be found here
) or better yet the local climbing climb shop, Pagan Mountaineering
located in Moab, UT. Their number is 435-259-1117.
Routes And Guidebooks Overview
For each route, guidebooks describing the route are indicated (as well as their rating). Total of four routes are published on this tower:
(1) West Face
. 4 pitches. Green: III 5.11b/c; Bjornstad: III 5.11+ A1; Burns: II 5.11 or 5.9+ C1; Knapp: not described. There is no hammer required on this one (as Bjornstad’s rating suggests) and Burns’ rating and description are way off base. Green gives the most accurate description including a nice photo overlay topo (though he too gets the number of bolts on last pitch wrong). Bjornstad gives only a brief text description including a variation to the route.
(2) North-Northeast Arete
. 4 pitches. Green: III 5.11b/c; Bjornstad: III 5.11-; Burns: not described; Knapp: III 5.11 (3 pitches). Green includes a nice photo overlay topo. Knapp includes a poor-quality photo overlay topo.
(3) North Face
. 3 pitches. Green: not described. Bjornstad: III 5.11c. Burns: not described. Knapp: not described. Bjornstad includes a short text-only description.
. 4 pitches. Green: not described. Bjornstad: III 5.9 A3. Burns: not described. Knapp: not described. Bjornstad includes a short text-only description.
Web Links(1) Argon Tower page
. Only North Northeast Face
route thus far.
More when I find them...