East Butte - North Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.82333°N / 103.96942°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 4
Additional Information Difficulty: Easy Class 3 or 4, depending on abillity
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 1
Additional Information Grade: I
Sign the Climber's Log


This whole area is rich in history. Clyde Stanley, whom James Michner dedicated his famous book "Centennial" is buried in the nearby lonely Keota Graveyard. It's worth a quick walk through to gain perspective on this vast land.

Up until a few years ago, there was a 20-25 foot stack adorning the summit. Gaining the true summit required a few moves of perhaps, YDS 5.2. I am not sure of the date of the demise of the stack, but it is fairly recent (10-15 years).

Legend has it that the Sterling, Colorado Fire Department made the first ascents of both buttes in 1909 using ladders.

Pawnee ButtesCirca 1900. USGS Public Domain

Getting There

See the main page for excellent directions on reaching the Buttes.

Route Description

Hike into the Buttes via the description provided in the main text. Hike over to the East Butte, gradually gaining elevation as you start to scramble over the smooth clay wall. Continue easterly until a set of deep foot holes are visible climbing up the north face. These are very easy to climb, but can be unnerving for the non-climber. There used to be an ancient iron bar above the foot steps on a huge ledge. (It was there 5-6 years ago, when I last climbed this Butte, having done so many, many times over the last 40 years.) The bar was very old even when I made my first ascent of this Butte in 1967.

From the ledge above the foot steps, work your way clockwise (left) on the (now) well trodden path which will lead you around to the south face of the Butte. There are great views (and some exposure) on this winding traverse. Once on the south face there are numerous scrambling options to the true summit.

Pawnee ButtesClimbing up the steps.
Pawnee ButtesAlthough not far down. A fall would result in injury.

Essential Gear

Not much is needed for this route other than standard hiking gear.

Climbers will have no difficulty with this route and nothing special will be needed. For those unaccustomed to scrambling or climbing, a short rope for belaying the foot steps pitch (and a partner that knows how to use it) would probably be appreciated.

External Links

USFS Website.

NOAA is an excellent resource for weather.



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