Ascent of Elephant Butte on 2016-10-13

Climber: Eric Schafer

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, October 13, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Elephant Butte
    Elevation:5653 ft / 1723 m

Ascent Trip Report

Others have gone into more detail on the route, so I will just list my impressions. Loved this one--probably the most fun I've had at a NP HP. I was the only one in this maze of rocks on an otherwise crowded day in Arches. Personally, I thought the most difficult part, by far, was an obstacle I had not seen mentioned in a trip report--the downclimb after the first rap. Maybe it's cause I'm a climber and not a canyoneer, but this 15' downclimb of a flaring chimney/crack was the move I was least sure of and a fall could have meant an injured ankle in a place you don't want to be injured. If you had a 60m rope (or did some fancy single line canyoneering setup, you might be able to rap all the way down to the big sandy area and bypass it.

I didn't find the other class 5 sections bad. On the 5.4 bench early, I chucked my pack up there and climbed the left side. Approach shoes were fine--didn't bother to take out the TC Pros. The right side of this bench is shorter, but I think the move is a couple grades harder and a fall from either side is not an option.

I ended up doing the class 5 squeeze chimney to gain the final ledge of the summit plateau, despite planning to bypass it. It's easy with lots of places for hands and feet. I did bypass it on the way down with a wide traverse.

The whole thing took me a bit over 3 hours car to car to onsight solo. If you know where you are going and don't dawdle, you could do it in an hour.

I uploaded a GPX, but it probably won't do you much good. For navigation, I recommend bringing a TR that describes the route as well as photos of the entrance, the lower class 5 bench, the first rap, and the descent route. Most of the TRs out there didn't describe every obstacle and I kept thinking "is this the class 5?" The first spot like this comes shortly after the entrance when the canyon narrows and a ramp/chimney continues up. I went up the ramp, traversed above the chimney to the left and pulled up to the saddle straight ahead.

You shouldn't attempt this unless you are a climber / canyoneer. Knowing how to inspect and build an anchor on bolts as well as rap is required. For me, the slings were in great shape, but don't go in counting on anything but bolts/pitons. The 5th class climbing is near impossible to protect with trad gear so the leader will be soloing. A fall, while likely not fatal, would probably cause significant injury. Not to discourage you--I'm sure people with little experience have bumbled their way up safely--just want to let you know what you should be prepared for. Rescue in here would be extremely difficult so be careful :)

Great Verizon service on top. LTE!
Summary Total Data
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble, Rock Climb
    Gear Used:
Ascent Statistics
    Route:West Fins
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Eric Schafer
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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