Chimney Rock is a formation located in Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park.
Chimney Rock received its befitting name from its most prominent feature which is a very large chimney splitting this formation into two parts. This rock is located on the east side of the most popular and oldest campground in all of Joshua Tree, Hidden Valley Campground. The visitors entering the park from the west enterance cannot miss this impressive formation as it’s located just across the parking lot from the well known Intersection Rock and The Old Woman.
Space Station 27
The history of rock climbing on Chimney Rock dates back to the latter part of the sixties when climbers such as T. Higgins, J . Wolfe and R. James were establishing routes on this formation using a certain amount of direct aid. In the early to mid seventies a group of young and talented climbers, such as Tobin Sorenson and John Long, who had just discovered their calling for rock climbing, walked into the Joshua Tree scene. The infusion of this new blood resulted in climbing all of the established routes free and without the use of direct aid.
The following ten years brought many advances in route development on Chimney Rock such as the establishment of the first 5.11 route called “Loose Lips.” At the present time there are a number of 5.11 routes such as “Twisted Crystals” and even one 5.12 “Camouflage” on the east face, not covered in this page.
Another very prominent feature of Chimney Rock is a cavity/hole clearly visible from the parking lot. This hole is called “Space Station 27,” and it seems to attract visitors with climbing shoes and steady nerves.
Climbs of Chimney Rock
Located within the Hidden Valley Campground boundaries, it is only natural that Chimney Rock receives abundant attention from climbers and spectators alike. Most of the climbs are moderate and see most of the traffic. One of the most popular climbs on Chimney Rock is called “Pinched Rib.” The history of this climb is rather interesting in that it originally had a difficulty rating of 5.7. In the following few years some of the holds on the climb broke off bringing the rating up to 5.8+. By the time I climbed “Pinched Rib” in the early 1990’s the rating had gone up to 10b. I wonder if this rating is going to hold, but I would not put any money on it. What I know is that if the rating is going to change, it will only go up. Climbing “Pinched Rib” itself was one thing, and descending down the east shoulder of the rock another. If you feel comfortable on steep friction, you will have a ball. But if you hate friction, you will find yourself facing the rock looking for holds, like I did. After the friction section make a little hop onto a small ledge and down climb a short low angle finger crack to the bottom.
Pinched Rib, 10b is just to the right of the 5.9 crack.
Another moderate and old favorite climb on Chimney Rock is called “West Face Overhang” rated 5.7. This route climbs up face and crack moves to the top. The first ascent of this route may date further back than any of the technical climbs on Chimney Rock. A number of people prefer to use the main chimney to descend the rock; however, since I have never used this option, I can not speak to its feasibility.
Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do you best to stay on these trails, and where you are forced to use a different path, choose the ones that rain can mend in time. Drainages make for good trails where there are no established trails.
Avoid stepping on native and fragile plants, and do not feed the coyotes. Coyotes are very much used to people and often hang around picnic areas and camp grounds in hopes of getting a hand out. It’s better to let them live their natural life.
Climbs of Chimney Rock, west face
Dyno In The Dark, 10b, gear
Loose Lips, 11a, gear
West Face Overhang, 5.7, gear
Ballet, 10a, This is a very serious climb. If you fall you can die. If the name Tobin Sorenson means anything to you, did the first free ascent of this climb
Howard's Horror-direct start, 10b, gear
Twisted Crystals, 11a, gear and 3 bolts
Break Dancing, 11a, gear and 3 bolts
Dirty Dancing, 10a, gear
Damper, 5.9, gear up to 4 inches
Pinched Rib, 10b, 2 bolts, small to medium gear
There are nine campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. At the entrance to the park you are always asked if you would care to have a map and a brochure. The brochure will have plenty of information on the campgrounds and the map will guide you to many of the pleasant hikes throughout the park. You may even get the latest information as to availability of campsites. During the peak season (mid winter through spring) finding a campsite may become a major task. It is highly recommended to use the following link to get more information in advance.
When you are camping with friends and sitting around the fire, it is easy to forget that there are other people trying to sleep in the nearby campsites. It is important to put yourself in their shoes. Keep the noise and music to a minimum and certainly not too much past 10 p.m. Your neighbors will smile at you in the morning instead of giving you dirty looks.
For current Campground information please see the link bellow:
From the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park drive on Park Boulevard, formerly known as Quail Springs Road, for about nine miles to a major rock formation called “Intersection Rock.” Intersection Rock is a major landmark on the north side of Park Boulevard with ample parking for visitors and climbers alike. This rock, true to its name, sit at the cross roads to Hidden Valley Campground, Barker Dam Road and the road to Day use and picnic area. Chimney Rock is located across the parking lot from Intersection Rock, and may be identified by its very large chimney or a very promominent hole on it west face.