Shangri La Butte

January 4, 2022


Lake Havasu, AZ

“Shangri La Butte” is the unofficial name of a small but rugged summit about half an hour’s drive north of Lake Havasu City right next to the highway. This area apparently has a high density of small, but pointy peaks. I knew nothing about them, but Adam had researched in the past. This was already my 16th day of non-stop peak-bagging, so we settled on a small summit to start with. Sean Casserly had come from San Jose, California to join for a couple days.

Adam and I car-camped at an official campsite not too far away from our objective, but to find that perfect spot was not easy. In the morning we drove to the start of Shangri La Butte’s access road to meet up with Sean. Adam and I arrived earlier than planned so I thought I might have enough time to snag “Little Haystack” nearby. That is an even-smaller summit, but more difficult than Shangri La Butte. The problem with “Little Haystack” was the lack of prominence. Since it doesn’t boast over 100 m prominence the other guys would not be interested in. I was keen as I liked challenging 4th class scramble, but minutes after I left the vehicle Sean showed up, so I reluctantly walked back. We then all piled into Sean’s superb Jeep and drove all the way to the base of Shangri La Butte’s NE slopes. Without an aggressive 4×4, high clearance vehicle one would have to start not far from the paved highway.

Shangri La Butte via NE Buttress. GPX DL

There are multiple options to ascend to the base of the scramble. We basically just picked a route that aimed straight towards the objective. Once the scrambling started none of us had picked the easiest path. Sean simply went straight up the NE Buttress that looked to be stiff 4th class with death exposure. Meanwhile I donned rock shoes but did my own variation to traverse diagonally climber’s left which was mostly exposed 3rd class. Adam followed my route and we soon realized that had we traversed far to the left without gaining elevation we would have found a much simpler way.

Me and Sean at the base of the NE Buttress
Sean starting his line
Me and Sean taking our respective routes up the start of the buttress
A sideways view from the start of the route
Adam following me up our own variation here. This was technically off-route

We then used a combination of chimneys, ledges and gullies to ascend back onto the NE Buttress. The rest of the route would mostly follow the buttress with only minor detours. We encountered one step that felt like 4th class, but that step was short and protected. In short time we all made to the summit, which again felt anticlimactic as the summit was broad and dome-shaped.

We were now on-route 100%. Adam climbed the chimney
Adam scrambling the typical terrain
Another sideways shot to show the slope angle on this route
Adam about to tackle a short but exposed piece of slabs
Adam took over the least on the uppermost route
Summit Panorama from Shangri La Butte. Click to view large size.
“Little Haystack” in the foreground seen from the summit
Lake Havasu far to the south
More smaller buttes in this area
Tumarion Peak etc. to the north in Gold Dome area
Me on the summit of Shangri La Butte

To descend Adam and I would down-scramble the exact same route we took except for the initial bits. I swapped footwear back to the trail runners as I did not need rock shoes for class 3 terrain. Nearing the end we continued down-climber’s right to exit onto easier terrain, but had to regain some elevation to the very bottom of the NE Buttress to retrieve our ditched poles. We then descended a gully on the north side of the slope to short-cut the return back to Sean’s vehicle. Sean had finished much quicker and was waiting patiently.

Some great care must be taken on this scramble
Me down-climbing the hardest move
Adam demonstrating his chimney techniques
Adam and I descended a different route to get back to the vehicle