OverviewChimney Peak or Rock
is a prominent rock tower close to Ridgeway, Colorado.
The Peak is 11,781 feet high, easily accessible on a good dirt road. There is some scramble to its base required, and if you want to climb it, it is a technical peak - the easiest route up "South Chimney" is rated as 5.6R. I did not think that it was so unprotected.
There is a good description of the route "Ouray's Rock Climbing guide by Jason Nelson". The guide recommends to use Big Bros, which I found not necessary. Carried 3 Big Bros and did not place any. The rock is a conglomerate, so you'll be climbing on cobbles. It is a 3 pitch climb (we did it in 4 pitches, since I ran out of 60 meter rope on the last pitch - but there was a nice place to make an anchor). For rappel it is better to do a double rope rappel from the top anchor, and then 2 more single rope rappels to the base of the tower.
You can continue rappel even below the climb - this is what we did. We scrambled up the 4th/low 5th class unprotected, but on the descent used the fixed slings on trees, rocks - easy to spot.
From Ridgeway go North on Hwy 550 for a couple of miles to a well signed turn off for Owl Creek pass. Drive on this good dirt road, no high clearance of 4WD vehicle required to the top of the Owl Creek Pass, then take a right toward West Fork, and then another right to a small parking spot from where you will start your hike. The last right turn off is not signed, you just pass Chimney Peak on your right, and then you take the first right dirt road (it is only about 100 meters long).
There are beautiful views of this rock tower along this route.
Hike up the road beyond where you park for several switchbacks until the road ends. You cannot drive on this section of the road - there are large boulders blocking the way. Bushwhack from the end of the road towards the Chimney Peak, which will be visible. Contour the base of the cliffs to the right passing over a drainage. Scramble up the ridge then head left - you may see a small cairn or a faint trail, but don't count on it. The goal is to get to the top of the small ridge on the southwest side of the tower. The route begins at the base of the massive chimney system on the south face. Allow 1 hr for the approach.
The climb is rated as 5.6R, but I found it quiet well protected.
It is usually done in 3 pitches, but I ran out of rope at the end of 3rd pitch.
1st pitch is 80 feet = 25 meters
2nd pitch is 90 feet = 27 meters
3rd pitch is 195 feet = 58 meters (this one is 5.5).
There are fixed anchors on this climb - usually webbing and static line around boulders, or at the end of the 2nd pitch there is a fixed bolt.
The route is easy to follow. Once you locate the start, you just follow the chimney all the way to its top.