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Escalante Butte, AZ

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250 10 1
Guide 10 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > South Rim
Rated
4.9
4.9 of 5 by 7
 
2
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,390 feet
Elevation Gain -1,931 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,871 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 19.46
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Peak
Backpack Connecting Only
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
4  2018-06-09
Tanner Trail
friendofThunderg
6  2018-06-09
Tanner Trail
carriejane
46  2017-10-21
Tanner - Escalante - New Hance
DallinW
6  2017-07-29 nikorock28
23  2016-05-29 nikorock28
4  2014-03-23 BobP
32  2013-09-02 Kel1969
45  2013-04-26
Cardenas Escalante Loop
chumley
Page 1,  2
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Aug, Jul, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  7:26am - 5:13pm
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Route Scout App
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Official Route
 
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Water
Nearby Area Water
Cardenas Butte
Cardenas Butte
0.0 mi away
6.5 mi
2,757 ft
Tanner Trail
Tanner Trail
0.0 mi away
7.7 mi
363 ft
Tusayan Ruins Trail
Tusayan Ruins Trail
1.6 mi away
0.3 mi
2 ft
Cedar Mountain 7061 - Desert View
Cedar Mountain 7061 - Desert View
1.6 mi away
11.0 mi
1,850 ft
Cape Solitude
1.8 mi away
30.0 mi
3,630 ft
Pinal Point - Grand Canyon
2.0 mi away
2.5 mi
200 ft
Solomon Temple
3.9 mi away
Tonto Trail
Tonto Trail
3.9 mi away
78.1 mi
Mount Acaba
3.9 mi away
Tonto Trail: New Hance Trail to Grandview Tr
Tonto Trail: New Hance Trail to Grandview Tr
3.9 mi away
9.1 mi
1,370 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Rising to the top!
by chumley

Overview
Escalante Butte is the highest of several summits west of the Tanner Trail at the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. It's distinctive white peak is capped with Coconino Sandstone and sets it apart from it's lower neighbors, most notably the nearby Cardenas Butte. Gaining this summit requires off-trail scrambling and some short non-technical climbs. The peak itself is split by a wide crack that requires an exposed leap to reach the high point.


History
The butte gains its name from the Franciscan priest Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, who joined Francisco Atanasio Domínguez in an expedition in search for an overland route from Santa Fe to California in 1776. The Dominguez-Escalante Expedition failed to reach California after traversing southern Colorado and Utah, but returned to Santa Fe via northern Arizona. As far as I can tell, Escalante never actually saw the Grand Canyon, having been warned away from it by Native Americans who told them they would not be able to cross it.

Hike
Getting to Escalante Butte first requires you to descend the Tanner Trail from Lipan Point. The first mile of Tanner drops 1500 feet on a largely unmaintained trail that features loose footing and is slow going. During the descent, Escalante is in full view and gives you a chance to look for a good route if you choose to ascend from the south.

When you reach the saddle between Tanner Canyon to the east and Seventyfive Mile Canyon to the west, Escalante looms directly in front of you, 885-feet up. Depending on your level of adventure, you can leave the Tanner trail here and make your ascent toward the peak. The route is more difficult, and large shelves of the Supai Group present some climbing challenges that might require some traversing to find the best climbs. It is possible to climb the south side of Escalante from the saddle, but it is not the easiest route, and I think the best option is to stay on Tanner and ascend from the north side instead.

As the Tanner trail passes around the base of Escalante on the east, you might also be tempted to climb this east ridge to the peak. This too, is possible, and the more moderate slope of this ridge line would be preferred over the south slope, but again, the terrain is more challenging than the north side. So, stay on Tanner as it rounds the butte and turns to the west, following it until it turns north again toward Cardenas. It is the saddle between Escalante and Cardenas that is the ideal starting point for the ascent.

Resist the temptation to leave Tanner too early ... the northeast slope of Escalante has a lot of vegetation that makes the climb more difficult. Instead, stay on Tanner for 2.25 miles before turning west and hiking off-trail up toward the saddle. There is no marked route here, but you may see footsteps and signs of other use. When you reach the saddle, turn toward the south and begin the ascent to the summit. Here there are occasional cairns and signs of use, but certainly nothing that resembles an established route.

The easy off-trail scramble turns into a large boulder-hopping adventure when you reach the prominent white sandstone boulders that make up the top of the butte. When you reach the summit, you'll find the easiest route to the high-point is to go through a "cave" between huge sandstone slabs before turning back toward the peak. At this point you will realize that the peak consists of two enormous slabs of rock, separated by a 3-foot crack. The western slab is slightly lower, but is easy to climb due to it's slant. The eastern slab is the high point, but can't be climbed safely without gear.

So in order to reach the true summit, you must jump from the western slab to the eastern slab. While the distance should make it simple, the exposure will get in your head. Whether you make it to the east slab or not, the views are spectacular and worth the trip even if you choose not to make the leap.

When heading down, you can re-trace your steps and descend the north slope, or you can save some mileage (but probably no time) by cutting the corner and descending the south or east slopes. There are some drop-offs in the Supai that will require traverses, so the recommended route is either back to the north or following the ridge to the east. Once back on Tanner, it's just a long grueling climb back to Lipan.

Caution
This hike features off-trail scrambling and requires you to use your hands to climb in some sections. Only hikers who are experienced and comfortable hiking off-trail in the Grand Canyon or other desert locales should attempt this route. There is no water or shade in this part of the canyon and hiking here during hot days is not recommended.

chumley
  • Grand Canyon Use Area Boundaries - Dynamic Map
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.


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