Chimney Rock is an interesting looking rock tower in the western section of the Rabbit Ears Range
in Northwestern Colorado. What in theory might make a nice technical mini-tower climb is somewhat diminished by horrendously loose rock and marmot droppings.
The tower itself is made of loose rock interlaid with layers of something that resembles dirt more than rock. Luckily, the dirt layers are lower down on the routes, before exposure gets up into the fatal category. Above the layers of dirt the rock is still loose though.
The east and south faces of the rock are shorter than the west and north faces, but offer the only practical routes. The rock is very seldom climbed. This page is the only information available online for climbing the rock (though probably for good reason).
The Rabbit Ears Range is one of the lesser known ranges in north central Colorado and is not as well-known as the other nearby ranges such as the Park Range, Medicine Bow Range, Never Summer Range, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks and the Gore Range. Part of the reason why the Rabbit Ears Range is lesser known than many of the other ranges in the area is because overall it isn’t as high or quite as spectacular as those other ranges, however it is unusual for the area in that at least two of its mountains (Rabbit Ears Peak and Chimney Rock) require technical skills and gear via their easiest routes.
The Rabbit Ears Range divides the extensive valleys of North and Middle Park and extends from Rabbit Ears Peak on the west to Radial Mountain on the east. The range forms an east west bridge between the north to south tending Park Range on the west and the north to south Never Summer Range on the east.
The range is overall unusual in North America since it runs west to east rather than north to south, but interestingly some of other ranges in this region, the Williams Fork Mountains(west of Steamboat Springs) and the Elkhead Mountains also run west to east. The Rabbit Ears Range is almost entirely made of volcanic rocks. Many volcanic dikes and plugs are visible throughout the range (the best ones being around Radial Mountain) and several examples of columnar jointing can also be seen (such as on Whitley Peak and the Devils Post Pile on White Slide Mountain).
Chimney Rock, a rotten tower in the Rabbit Ears Range. The rock is nice to look at, but is plagued with loose rock.
From the junction of SH 9 and US 40 in Kremmling, drive north along Highway 40 to the Chimney Rock Road. Turn right on CR #27 and drive 6.8 miles to the National Forest boundary. The road now becomes FR 103. Drive 3.8 miles along FR 103 and park at a small pull-off on the west side and at a curve in the road.
You can also reach this point from the north off SH 14. Drive south along FR 103 to the same pull-off.
Chimney Rock from the north and from Point 10146.
From FR 103, follow the minor ridge west up and over some intermediate hills until you intersect a more prominent ridgeline. Follow this ridgeline south up and over Point 10146 before reaching Chimney Rock. The approach is less than half a mile each way.
The purple line is the approach route.
As mentioned, all routes are plagued by loose rock. The south and east faces of the rock offer the only practical routes.
If you search carefully, there is a crack squeeze route up the rock on the south face, assuming you can do a serious squeeze in a crack. It may be only 4th class or 5.0 (it's a really un-obvious route though) and unfortunately it also has lots of marmot droppings.
Looking down the crack squeeze on Chimney Rock.
Perhaps better choices are the crack on the northern part of the east face of the crack on the eastern part of the south face. These two routes probably go at 5.3 or 5.4 or so, but the lower 10 feet or so is on something that resembles dirt rather than rock.
Kessler at the base of the east face of Chimney Rock.
Although, the north face and west face are much higher and more vertical, there doesn’t seem to be any practical routes on those faces.
A sturdy boulder on the summit block makes a good rappel anchor to descend the south face.
Rappelling off Chimney Rock.
None. Make sure to tread lightly.
Brian Kalet and Kessler on the summit of Chimney Rock.
When to Climb
The road to the peak opens sometime in June and closes sometime in October, so that is the normal season to climb. Mid-June through early October is best unless you have access to a snowmobile.
In winter you could cross country ski in, but it would be a long trip.
In the fall, this is a very popular hunting area, and you may want to avoid hunting season. At the very least, wear blaze orange during the hunting season.
Chimney Rock from afar as seen from the southwest. Mid July.
There are plenty of campsites along the approach roads. Make sure to camp on Forest Service Land.
Mountain ConditionsCLICK HERE FOR WEATHER FORECAST
Below is the National Weather Service Climate Summary of Gore Pass Ranch located southwest of Chimney Rock. The data is from 1957-1963. This is the closest long term weather station, but be aware that higher elevations will be much wetter and colder, at least during the day time. Gore Pass Ranch is at 7610 feet elevation, so expect the daytime temperatures on Chimney Rock to be 5-10 degrees colder than in at the Gore Pass Ranch (the ranch will probably be as cool or cooler at night than the area around Chimney Rock).
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