Very fun scramble, but very short (depending on how much exploring you do). Also did it in about 2:30 despite some playing. Still well worth it considering that it is right off one of the main drives. Near 360 degree view on top.
Not that I know ratings all that well, but I would consider the 5.4 rating accurate. However, it is really only a couple of moves and not overly exposed. Protection, solid climber in the group or otherwise, people shouldn't be trying climbs, scrambles, 14ers, canyons or whatever unless they are comfortable with heights and confident in their OWN ability. Ropes and spots give a false sense of security and don't make you learn to trust yourself.
11-6-10 Went again with two mostly inexperienced climbers. Did the whole route in about 2hrs. Upon climbing the "crux" again, I think that I'd agree it's only 5.2. It just looks somewhat intimidating with the chute below you.
This was a great adventure. I found the route finding to be the crux of the trip. Very windy day, which added to the exitment!
Did this one with the Utah Climbing Club. With a group of over 20 it only took us four hours round trip.
Climbed through the maze of fins with Jamie, he had been there before so the routefinding went really quick. Only used the rope for the two rappels, we felt the class 5 sections were brief and not too difficult, but all parties should asses their owns skills and risk threshold when it comes to where to rope up, and where not to.
10/15/10- back visiting an old friend w/steve and jim on a beautiful utah, bluebird desert day. always love this adventure!
11/28/09- toured a cold elephant butte w/aaron and mike garratt. didn't want to linger too long in the shade before a late sun started making things comfortable.
11/7/09- cruised this baby again w/mike. bumped into bob dawson and sharon adams along the way, whom we joined forces with for an enjoyable outing.
5/19/09- summited the maze of elephant butte with jessica and josh. they did awesome for newbies but took more time(5-5.5 hours) than i imagined. the 5.4 crux wasn't what i expected but it wouldn't be an issue for a competent climber whatsoever.
can't wait to do it again!
We ended our memorable UT trip with Elephant Butte, and it was my favorite climb of the weekend. Loads of eye candy and quality scrambling on this one. I wish we had more time to explore it as we had to get down before it got dark. I will have to return someday. Hard to beat the bang for the buck on this one.
We drove down from Ogden for this climb on a sunny winter day. The route didn't disappoint as the climbing was fun and the views great. Only a few summitters over the years, but this is one of my favorite climbs/hikes that I've done.
What an amazing adventure! Took an afternoon to find the correct entrance, but once we did, it was on. Some of the best hiking/scrambling/rappelling I've done thus far...and all in one half-day. (Not even really. Took us just over 4 hours roundtrip.) Would definitely do it again in a heartbeat. By the way, we spoke to a ranger who had climbed it the day before we did, and mentioned they had just added new webbing to the rap stations.
The route description is pretty good - definately enough to get you in trouble. I'd like to touch on the "5.4" climbing pitch.
After you scramble out of the sandy beach (10' sandstone ramp to a 30' blocky corner) you arrive at a giant sandstone bowl. You enter the area from the bottom, where some large boulders are sitting. The bowl has a 3" wide sloping ledge around it that you can walk on. You have to scramble up 10' or so to the base of the climbing section and then ascend the 15' of "5.4" rock. I would rate it at least 5.5X. There is no option for pro and while a belay sounds like a good idea, it will more likely result in 2 dead bodies instead of 1. A fall on this would break plenty of bones as you bounce from ledge to ledge and hit the boulders in the base of the bowl. A solid 5.4 climber would not be comfortable doing this unless he/she can forget that there is such a danger below. Then, even if you get past this short scary part, there is a second steep face you have to get over to get to the anchors. This is no walk in the park either (not protectable).
We got lucky. An experienced climber happened to show up just as we were turning back. We weren't going to risk it. The drizzle that began didn't instill any confidence either. Dave helped us by giving us a fixed rope. Even with a fixed line, it was a little sketchy. I've never hesitated getting on a 5.4, as long as the protection was there. This move seemed ackward and harder, definately deserving an R or X rating.
After the rappel, the rain picked up. This made the ascent up tough. We got to just below the upper cliff band when our shoes became pretty slippery and we decided to head down. We were close, but didn't know how long the rain would last. It drenched the rocks and made mini streams and pools. After getting into the correct drainage, just before the rappel, the rain stopped. The pool was quite full and water was going over the edge during the rappel. It was fun. After the rappel, there is one more section of downclimbing that took a little thought. There are hand and foot holds, but they are not easy to see from above. We followed the drainage out to the road and then back to the car.
Looking back, Elephant Butte is a quality adventure. Having a solid climber in the group is a must. Just because it says "scramble" doesn't mean easy. The large pack I had was a hinderance. We never used the climbing shoes or the small amount of pro I brought. Rain makes it a lot scarier. Wet lichen is like an oil slick. Be safe.
Thanks to Scott for a great route in a great park. I would like to do this one again sometime.
November 12 2016
In the morning, Kessler, Shaylee, Kimberly, and I met some friends at the Elephant Butte Trailhead. We all climbed Elephant Butte, but part of the group didn't want to go all the way to the summit for some reason. The rest of us enjoyed one of the best views in the world from the summit.
January 18 2014
Kimberly (wife), Kessler (11 year old son), Shaylee (9 year old daughter), and I met Matt Lemke in Moab in order to climb Elephant Butte. I suspected that the route would be too icy to attempt, but we went to check it out anyway.
As expected, there was much ice and snow in the shade and the climbing was treacherous in places. The crux of the climb was completely iced up. We provided Matt a spot while he climbed the crux and he dropped a handline for us to grab on the way up. The last few feet were icy! There was a bag of gear at the top of the crux. I'm guessing that whoever left it threw it up the crux and was unable to climb it. The bag had a nice camera, some shoes, and lots of climbing gear in it. I redistributed it among Kessler's and my pack and from then on I had a heavy pack!
The ascent rappel went smoothly. Because the standard route was iced, we took a different and more difficult route up the left side of the butte since it was dry. We then traversed over to the final crack and climbed to the summit.
It was definitely an earned summit. The kids enjoyed it, but Kim didn't like it that much in the ice.
The descent went smoothly and we found the pool above the exit rappel to be frozen solid. This was a good thing since none of us felt like wading in ice water.
The final rappel had a huge icicle on it that made it much more challenging. We hoped that we wouldn't knock the icicle down on us! Luckily none of us did.
After climbing Elephant Butte, we decided to check out Bullwinkle. I thought that it would be a fairly easy climb, but my leg was too fat to fit in the off width. It was quite frustrating. Matt led the climb and Kessler cleaned.
It was a good day.
November 9 2013
A group of seven of us, including Kessler (my 11 year old son) and I climbed Elephant Butte. As always, it didn't disappoint and provided one of the best views in the world.
Because the route was dry except for one pool to stem, it was an easier climb than last time.
All seven of us did the climb without any problems and we enjoyed the views for a long time before heading back down.
After descending Elephant Butte, we did an impromptu climb of Owl Rock. SP member Liba and her partner were climbing the rock and we asked if we could borrow their rope to climb to the top in order to set up a top rope with my rope (we did not bring a climbing rack).
Five of us climbed or attempted Owl Rock with varying degrees of success. Kessler made it to the crux.
It was a fun afternoon of playing around on the rocks before heading back to Moab.
December 25 2005
We got a late start so we could attend church in the morning.
After meeting SP member Day Hiker in Moab, my wife, kids, and I, drove to the trailhead. The kids, wife, and I did a few quick scrambles, before they headed off to the Windows to do some hikes there.
Dayhiker and I then climbed to the summit of Elephant Butte arriving at the car just in time to see the sunset on Balanced Rock. Great climb, and one of the best views in the world.