FKT: Dylan Doblar - Elephant Butte Summit Loop - 2024-02-24

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
34m 37s

it was my first time in arches so i figured i’d visit the high point of the park.  i had found Stephen Lindsay’s 4/1/2016 track on strava (this is the fastest previous run i found record of), and i felt inspired to give the route an honest on-sight effort.  i loosely followed the mountain project route description, which seemed pretty spot-on.


the approach had a lot of different options, and it seems like the rock rib i chose to get up to the first gulley might have had a bit of unnecessary gain.  my legs were feeling pretty heavy, but things started flowing once i got into the mellow scrambling leading up to the first meadow.  pulling up into it, i felt like i had stumbled into a secret garden tucked away in this sandstone labyrinth.  i was trying to soak in the scenery and before i knew it, i had made it through the crux sequence and was making my way down to the first rappel.  it was a crisp 30° F when i started, and my fingers were still chilly even in my gloves.  i think this contributed to some rope fumbling at the rap station, slowing me down a bit.  by the time i was on the slabs leading to the summit, i had stopped focusing on time and was trying to just enjoy moving smoothly over sandstone.  but when i saw that i was close to Stephen’s pace at the summit, i tagged the USGS marker and decided to send it on the descent.  thankfully, the slabs on the way down had a lot less slippery sand on them than the ones i encountered on the ascent, and i managed to make it to the second rappel station without incident.  the second rap went relatively smoothly, and the run back was engaging, with lots of bobbing and weaving to stay on rocks and sandy washes so as to not disturb any plants.


overall i’m pretty happy with this effort, even though i know i could probably shave off a decent chunk of time with better route-finding, rope management, and fitness.  while it was fun to see how fast i could go, i definitely want to come back and take more time (and pictures) on this route.  it seems like there were several “wrong” turns that i avoided that had potential to be really neat, and i feel like i missed out on some of those this time around.



0:00 – parking lot

10:57 – top of first rappel

15:47 – bottom of first rappel

22:19 – summit

26:29 – top of second rappel

29:31 – bottom of second rappel

34:37 – parking lot


34:13 for the strava segment