The Pickle in the morning sun
The Pickle is a small tower located near the entry to the Arches National Park. Most of us do not notice this formation since Arches has so many interesting rocks, but if you look up to the right before reaching the entry/visitor center of Arches, you are going to pass the Pickle. To me the formation appears more like an egg.
The tower offers quick and fun climb - is an aid climb and only one short pitch of aid climbing is required to reach its summit.
The Pickle is not as exciting as other towers in the area, but the summit is nice and the adventure can be done in a couple of hours (we did it after climbing Dark Angel). Basic aid skills are needed, the 2nd person can use ascenders. The tower ascent is safe - about 20 bolts/ pitons, which are closely spaced.
First Ascent: Cameron Burns, Benny Bach and Ethan Putterman (per report only the first 2 reached the summit).
Time Required: 1-2 hrs
Rock Difficulty: 5.7 C1
Approach hike: 15 min
Orientation: north, gets early shade and felt cold in December.
Turn off US 191 northwest of Moab onto the Arches National Park entrance road (well signed). The Pickle is north of the road. Park at the 10 min parking area to view it.
Per Mountain Project parking at the "10 min parking area" right before entering the fee area of the park is allowed. I was not aware whether this would pose a problem and we parked outside the park area, right across the Pickle at the Sand Dunes parking lot. Another option would be to park at the visitor center (longer walk), or ask park rangers.
: Hike towards to formation which is in your sight. We used a wash and then scrambled up the rocky terrain directly below the Pickle. Try to avoid cryptobiotic soil.
The Standard Route
is located directly opposite of the road, on the north side of the tower. It is easy to identify - bolt ladder is obvious.
Route is rated as 5.7 C 1.
Aid up a steep bolt ladder with ? 15 bolts and drilled pitons. Traverse right and finish by smearing up a 25 foot slab (5.7) protected with three pitons to an anchor. (Anchor was in a good condition (Dec 2017).
Descent: Rappel from the anchor.
Gear: 18 quickdraws, aiders, 60 meter rope. Second climber may want ascenders. (I climbed 2nd and we did not have ascenders with us, so I was just grabbing on quickdraws and stepped a few times into a sling).
The tower is located within Arches National Park. Check Arches National park website regarding regulations - here
The Pickle is closed to climbing from April 1 to August 31 = raptor's breeding season.
Brief Summary of Regulations: 1. Rock climbing is limited to five persons per group. 2. Rock climbing must be free climbing or clean aid climbing. The installation of pitons is prohibited. 3. The physical altering of rock from its natural position is prohibited. 4. The use of white chalk is prohibited. 5. Use of motorized drills is prohibited. 6. If an existing anchor or item is judged unsafe, it may be replaced. Bolts, hangers and chains must be painted the color of the rock surface or brown. Software left in place is required to match the rock surface in color. 7. Guided rock climbing services are prohibited.
Climber Registration: All persons planning to climb in Arches National Park are encouraged to register by obtaining a free permit. There are no daily limits on routes. Registration is free, it increases safety and helps park maintain desired conditions in the backcountry.
: The National Park service cannot guarantee the safety of climbers. Climb at your own risk.
When to Climb
Anytime: summer can be hot, but the climb should not take much time. We climbed in December and it was cold.
There is one campground inside Arches National Park - Devils Garden Campground - for information see this link
Moab is a major tourist destination and there is a multitude of campgrounds along the Colorado River. The campsites can get crowded during touristy season. Here is a link
for more information.