Sky Chimney

Page Type
Route Type:
Trad rock climb
Time Required:
Half a day

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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Sky Chimney
Created On: Mar 21, 2003
Last Edited On: May 12, 2004


The cover of the Climbers Guide to Smith Rock shows the famous Chain Reaction climb. But it also shows Smith Rock in the background, and a clear view of Sky Chimney. The photo of Asterisk pass on the main Smith Rock page also clearly shows the formations mentioned in this route description.

Follow the crowd of climbers down the big trail to the river. Cross the bridge, and continue following the crowds along the wide path beside the river. Walk past Morning Glory Wall, The Dihedrals, and Christian Brothers climbing areas, losing the crowds in the process. Head up toward Asterisk pass. Directly to the left of Asterisk pass is the Smith Rock group. The noticable arete on the right skyline is Sky Ridge. The wall that forms the left side of Sky Ridge ends in a wide open book with another wall. In this open book, at mid height, is a noticeably large hole. The book opens up into a wide shallow gully at the summit. You have found Sky Chimney. The base of the climb is a vaguely heart shaped rock with 3 chimneys on it's right side. Use climbers paths to get to this formation from the Christian Brothers/Asterisk Pass area.

Route Description

Many thanks to rpc for his detailed update of the route, and the great photos.

Pitch 1: Choose the biggest of the 3 chimney's, and grovel up, using stemming techniques and a few tighter chimney moves. The pitch ends on top of the heart shaped rock, on a big sandy ledge, with room for a dozen souls. This has been retrobolted, so what used to be iffy protection is now safer. There is also a 5.7/8 bolted variation that climbs straight up the face. 5.6

Pitch 2: On the right hand side of the ledge is a great hand crack. Follow this crack, keeping right when it splits. The next belay is inside the hole, which isn't as cozy as it looks from the ground. Natural anchor consisting of mid-size cams in a rather hollow sounding flake. 5.7

Pitch 3: Swing out left of the hole, and follow wider cracks up. There is a crunchy lieback/overhang section about 10-15 feet higher which may be the technical, but surely is the pyschological crux for the rock flexes noticeably. The flake on the left is not to be trusted. Move through this section quickly and smoothly. Lieback and wiggle for another 30 feet, then follow more blocky rock and cracks to the left hand side of the gully. A single bolt keeps the rope from dragging through all the dirt and loose rock in this large gully. Walk the ledge 20 feet and move up the 4th class squeeze chimney. Belay immediately above. Hint: don't try to shout anything down to your belayer after leading this pitch. He\She is in the belay hole, and is totally deaf to you.5.7

4th class junk leads to the summit.

Descent, easy paths down the opposite side lead down. Skip the first gully, it doesn't reach the valley floor. Keep left, and do not descend until you can see the entire route down. Head left and walk around the Smith Rock group along the river, or head right and up over asterisk pass.

Essential Gear

Cams cams cams. The funky cracks of Smith love cams, and hate passive pro. A few medium and large stoppers are useful for anchors. This route needs hand to fist size cams. Bring doubles of 1.5 to 3 inch size cams, triple if possible. Some slings for rope drag, but not many, the route is pretty much straight up.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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rpc - Feb 23, 2004 12:19 pm - Voted 10/10

Route Comment

My wife and I climbed Sky Chimney yesterday (Feb. 22, 2004). It was a great route and we found it fairly demanding for the grade (personally, I thought that some of 5.8's in the park were easier, ex. Sky Ridge and Pack Animal were easier). To update some of the information posted on the route page by Darin.

Pitch 1: Has been retrobolted. Additionally, there's now a "direct" variation. Start the chimney as described on the route page, and about 1/2 to 2/3rds of the way up follow the bolts straight up the face (probably 5.7 - 5.8, very nicely bolted). If you choose the original chimney route, that too seemed to be bolted all the way.

Pitch 2: Excellent pro. The crux is probably getting into the cavelet at the very top of the pitch. The belay is still boltless and relies largely on mid-sized cams behind the hollow sounding block. You CAN supplement with a 2.5 inch cam in the crack near the cave's ceiling on the left (above the hollow sounding block). The floor of the cave is nicely sloped so you are relying on the anchor pretty "heavily".

Pitch 3: The step out of the belay cave is somewhat tricky esp. if you're short but you can place a very large cam (I used my #5 Friend, smaller would probably do as well) before committing (it's kind of a mental game since you remember that the belay anchor relies largely on the hollow sounding bock). I found the crux of the pitch (and the route) to come about 10-15 feet above the belay where there's a slightly overhung flake on the left forming a wide "slot". Worming your way up it is probably the crux. The climbing eases beyond there but never to the point of being boring. About 2/3rds of the way up the pitch, there a decent looking bolt/piton (not sure what it was - looked solid if a bit thin). The technical part of the pitch ends when you pull (left) onto a VERY dirty, sloping ledge. There's a single bolt there the main purpose of which is to keep your rope(s) off the ledge so as not to kill anyone below with fist sized rocks you'd dislodge with your rope. Walk the ledge 20 feet and move up the 4th class squeeze chimney. Belay immediately above.

Darin was not exaggerating the importance of cams on this pitch. If you don't have a grade or two of comfort (i.e. you're a 5.7 or 5.8 leader) over this route rating, you'll be plugging in those cams like there's no tomorrow. It would take some imagination and patience to fiddle in anything else. Most of the pro on the upper two pitches consists of cams in the 1.5 to 3 inch range (though you can find good placements for larger ones as well). Wear HELMETS!!!

Martin Cash

Martin Cash - Oct 30, 2006 4:08 pm - Voted 10/10


Climbed this route on 10/28/06. We had several cams invert due to the funky shaped cracks. This route absolutely eats hexes, I'd recommend a set of #7 to #10 in addition to a normal rack of cams.


darinchadwick - Oct 30, 2006 9:50 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Hexes!

Now I'm curious to try climbing it again with hexes, must admit that I hadn't used em much when I climbed Sky Chimney. My latest gear fixation has been using tri-cams in Red Rocks. Gear perfectly designed for that type of rock.


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