Stolen Chimney

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 38.72500°N / 109.292°W
Additional Information Route Type: Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.11a (YDS)
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.11a or 5.9 A0 (see also discussion)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 4
Additional Information Grade: III
Sign the Climber's Log


This route is by far the most popular route on Ancient Art and is rated 5.11a or 5.9 A0, is grade III and 4-5 pitches. It is a really fun climb, but can be crowded on weekends in the spring and fall. The route ascends the southeast side of Ancient Art and up the obvious chimney.

Written by rpc:

This route has been included in the updated list of North American classic climbs (Gary and Lynn Clark's North American Classic Climbs). The route made this "exclusive" list not for its exceptional history, its significant length (<250 feet) and not for its rock quality. The route has made the list for one reason and one reason only: the unforgettable summit! This is arguably the wildest summit you'll ever have the privilege of standing on: a one square foot "wedge" atop a 30 foot spire protruding out and away from the main formation, "suspended" 250 feet above the surrounding desert. The spire is not the true summit of Ancient Art complex (the central summit is taller) but that fact is irrelevant to most climbers who climb the route.

Aiding the .10+ section near...Route Topo of Stolen Chimney.

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, drive north from Moab along Highway 128, or south from Cisco on Highway 128 to the Fisher Towers Road, which branches east from Highway 128 between mile markers 21 and 22. Follow the road to its end at the trailhead. This road is good for all cars.

Western Section of the Fisher TowersThe view of the towers from near the trailhead.

Rating Discrepancy Discussion

Written by rpc:

Stolen Chimney is usually done in four (five in Desert Rock III), mostly short pitches. The discrepancy in the given rating (5.8 - 5.9 A0) is due to two facts. First, there exists a discrepancy in the published literature. Second, whether the route deserves a 5.8 or a 5.9 rating will depend on how many (and which) draws you pull. I believe (personal opinion) that if you aid through the first two "tough" sections below the summit spire but do the entire spire free, a rating of 5.9 is more appropriate. If you pull on the draw on the final pitch, a 5.8 is probably fairer. This of course can be debated without end. The fully free rating range (5.10d - 5.11a) reflects the discrepancy in published sources.

Route Rating Discussion by other SP members:

JD: The [free] rating is inaccurate. Most folks I've talked with put it at about 10b or so. I've even freed it twice, so it can't be 5.11! I thought p3 (5.9?) felt about the same. Go figure.

poorboy44: I would say 5.9 on the P1 bolt ladder. I don't know who dreamed up 10d !

Climbers on Ancient ArtClimbers on Ancient Art. The upper part of P2 and all of P3 and P4 can all be seen.

Route Description

The Fisher Towers Trail is the most popular approach for the western towers such as Ancient Art. From the parking lot at the trailhead, the trail heads mostly east along a bench along the western towers base. This is about 0.5 miles from the parking lot.

Once the main trail brings you near and then past the base of Ancient Art complex, look for a very well-beaten climbers' trail heading left (off of the main trail) up the gully (toward Kingfisher formation) with Ancient Art formation on the left and Cottontail Tower (rightmost formation in this photo) on the right. Shortly, the climbers' path passes the distinctive Cobra pillar (this photo), veer up and left toward Ancient Art. The route starts directly below the distinctive chimney (pitch two of Stolen Chimney) on the southwest face of Ancient Art complex.

Pitch 1:

As mentioned above, from the SW side of the tower climb up the ledgy rock to the base of the gully (with bolt ladder) under the obvious chimney (5.5-5.6, 40 feet). Be careful of loose rock at the base of the gully. Climb the gully (5.10d or 5.8 A0, 20 feet) to the nice belay ledge (several drilled pitons or bolts).

P1 (Stolen Chimney)P1 gulley on the Stolen Chimney Route.

Pitch 2:

Climb the chimney (5.7 -5.8, 140 feet). There is one overhanging bulge that looks intimidating, but you just have to back up on easy holds to go up and over the roof. At the top of the chimney, climb right to the really nice belay ledge just above the big chockstone. Several bolts or drilled pitons on here (one is only half way in, so use it for gear only).

RoofClimbing past the roof in the chimney on P2.

Pitch 3:

Left of the chockstone climb the rib (5.9-5.10 or 5.7-5.8 A0, 50 feet) to the belay ledge with several anchors. If you are free climbing, this is the crux of the route and is hardest between the highest (3rd) bolt and the top of the pitch. The top of the pitch and the ledge leading to the summit spire is known as the Sidewalk in the Sky.

Topping out on P3Topping out on P3.

Pitch 4:

Walk (or crawl if it is really windy!) along the Sidewalk in the Sky to the base of the summit spire. Most parties take turns topping out on the spire - i.e. the leader lowers off and top ropes the second.

Mantle (5.8 and somewhat scary) onto the “Diving Board” (a.k.a. Eagles Head) to several moves first left and then right to a bolted ledge at which point the summit is not far above. The crux is at bolt #3 (5.9+ or 5.8 A0), 10 feet from the top.

Obligatory Summit ShotThe famous Corkscrew Summit of Ancient Art.


Lower to the diving board and then reverse the Sidewalk in the Sky. Rappel to P3 at which location you can rap with one rope to top of P2 belay. From here you either rap (double ropes) to top of P1 or if you have two 60m ropes you can rap directly to the ground.

Essential Gear

Mid-sized rack with cams from about 1/2 inch up to a #3 Camalot (~3 inch piece). Possibly doubles in the 1-2 inch range. Some nuts (a handful - go easy here). If you're going to aid the curxes, most can probably do it by pulling on draws. You could however bring an aider or two (we brought 2 and used them on the P1 crux).

Internet Links

piquaclimber. Nice route photos. Great website overall!

gdargaud. Nice TR and outstanding photography. The whole website probably has some of the best climbing photography on the internet!

climbingmoab's page for Stolen Chimney on Ancient Art. Great resource for many Moab-area climbs.



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