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North Ridge 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 650', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
Season: Summer
Page Views: 4,764
Submitted By: Sarge on Mar 31, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (28)
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Steeple in the middle


This route is INTERESTING. If you're looking for an adventure, it is a must do.

P1. Climb the obvious crack for 140' 5.7-5.8

P2. Move climber's right and follow twin 5.7 cracks to a notch or shoulder.

P3. Move climber's right again and begin to "tunnel." This is where the climb gets crazy. You are in the Great North Chimney. Basically, there is a detached piece of granite (about the size of two football fields) that you climb through. I thought it felt like a coffin. The route finding on this pitch is very difficult because there is low light. My partner and I tunneled all the way through to the SW side. CRAZY. We found a plethora of bail gear at this point.

P4. Climb a beautiful 5.8 corner.

P5. This pitch is chossy and depending on your skill, you might want to unrope.


Finding the start of the route is key. You can easily get off-route.
Descent is dubious. We rapped 4 single-rope rappels.


Standard alpine rack, two ropes seemed unnecessary.
Check out Joe Kelsey's Wind River book for further details.

Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
The upper section of pitch 1
The upper section of pitch 1
Tunelling inside the Great North Chimney.
Tunelling inside the Great North Chimney.

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 3, 2013
By Tea
Dec 25, 2007

The Chimney is a cool feature. Looks out both sides of the "steeple". At the top of the chimney I went through a small escape hatch onto the big sundeck ledge below the last very nice pitch, and scenic summit. Chimney pitch can be lead all as one with a 60. Don't remember a 5th pitch, as the nice 5.8 corner ends with a mantle right onto the summit. Descend with a fixed rap or two, and some easy downclimbing to the south west. "Death Block" in kelsey guide is gone. We had the luck to run into one of the original FA'ists of the route while camped in the area (he spotted us on the ridge while fishing), and he commented it was one of his favorite Wind River summits.
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Aug 13, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

For us the 5th pitch was the 5.8 corner ending on the summit. After moving the belay to the notch below the chimney, the 3rd pitch gets you up into the chimney a ways and the 4th up and out of the chimney to the bottom of the 5th pitch (watch for rope drag in the chimney!) I think there were 4 single rope raps to get to the slopes below the Steeple/Lost Temple Spire col.
By John Bradford
From: Yellowstone National Park
Aug 24, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

A very good but not great climb, interesting only for the novelty of the chimney pitch. That said though, the 5th pith (5.8 corner)to the summit is excellent. It is possible to descend into the Black Joe Drainage on the east side of the peak, from the notch after the third rappel. Keep bearing to the left as you descend, aiming for the snow fields. This was a great hike out; skirting the northern buttress of Haystack to reurn to our Deep Lake camp. I have attached photos of all of this.
By Terry Price
From: Mancos CO
Oct 29, 2009

I've done this route twice, so my enthusiasm is evident. Hard to imagine a better finishing pitch a great 5.8 corner that ends as one virtually touches the summit with your hand, with exhilarating exposure the entire length of the pitch. The "chimney" is totally unique. More like a daylight, above-ground spelunk. You feel as if you have been absorbed by the bowels of the mountain the "chimney" is so large. Various ways exist to worm through this passage and exit below the aforesaid final pitch. All this and a technical descent from a beautifully sculptured peak. This is a great climb. I might do it a third time.
By Liz Donley
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 30, 2010

We totally loved this route.

The chimney pitch was tough for the grade but totally awesome. Maybe there is an easier way than the way we went? It was pretty physical toward the top, but nothing a bit of Vedauwoo training won't prepare you for!

For the final pitch we did the variation that steps right from the big ledge and goes up the right facing dihedral/handcrack to the summit. It was stellar!
By Alison Conrad
Sep 9, 2011

Great route on excellent rock. Pitch 1 is over 200 ft. We simulclimbed to get to the notch. P2 goes over blocks and utilizes the double crack system to the third class ledge. The chimney pitch is unique. Tunnel thru and head up. It will look like it does not go, but it seems to work. Gear can be a little hard to get. Belay at next pedestal. Next pitch exits the chimney and has some awkward moves. Last pitch is awesome crack corner that is clean and protects well. Four short raps get you down where you follow grassy ledges to the bottom. Standard rack to #3. Doubles of everything.
By BruceB
From: Reno, NV
Aug 3, 2012

Very fun and adventurous climb. Every pitch is interesting in its own way. The last pitch (5.8 variation) is absolutely beautiful.

A little beta on the chimney: On the first chimney pitch there's a rather exposed and hard to protect short traverse before you get into the chimney, then the actual chimney section is very short and easy. The 2nd chockstone where you belay is only about 10 feet above the corridor floor. If you have packs it's easy to haul them up the 10 feet separately.
The actual "tunneling" is just a walk/scramble around the corner to the right where you set up the next belay. The second chimney pitch is a bit wider (stemming wide) so packs aren't a problem here.
Flashlights are not required. Combining these two pitches seems rather problematic.

The raps off are obvious. We didn't need to rap any of the grassy ledges, although we did see the slings. Only one rope required.

Well worth doing. The views from the summit are great.
By Dapper Dan Rogers
From: Driggs, ID
Aug 19, 2012

You can also take a "scramble" route at the top of the chimney, in lieu of the crack system, if you care to skip it. Scramble over the chockstone roof at the top of the chimney, to under, around, and on top of a big leaning block. One exposed crack move then takes to about a 30ft scramble to the top.
By Sam Cannon
From: Holladay, Utah
Jun 24, 2013

The blue guide-book mentions a 5.9 finish as opposed to the scramble - it's well worth it! Instead of hanging left after scrambling out of the chimney work your way right to an obvious crack that will take you to the summit. Awesome pitch - adventurous route!
By pfwein
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 19, 2013

Doing the chimney / tunnel "pitch" in one pitch seemed like a bad idea due to the way the rope would run--I agree with BruceB's comment.
Some topos I saw gave the tunnel an "R." I'm generally reluctant to say pro is good lest someone rely on that and get injured for whatever reason. But it seemed to me that solid gear was available with no terrifying runouts (no wide gear is necessary--nothing bigger than #3 C4--and it would take huge big bros, if that, to span the chimney/tunnel). To start the chimney pitch, I pulled the 5.8 finger crack, then went right, up, and back left (use very long runners) before entering the chimney proper.
That said, part of "easy" chimney climbing is that you are your own pro, and so don't take this as any guarantee, just my subjective experience.
By Ryan Stefani
Sep 3, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

We heard about a sketchy descent from folks there, plus there are a lot of mixed information here. We had a very straight forward, easy descent using two 60m ropes. Here are the details:

1. From summit, look through the port hole to the Cirque to the north. Downclimb (3rd class) about 10' on the east side of the summit. Walk south to an obvious rap. 80'.

1b. Stay on rap and walk south for about 10-15' to avoid the slightly slopey, very exposed corner.

2. Continue walking south along the big, wide, flat ridge to the next obvious rap. We threw both ropes to be completely safe. I would guess this one is probably 125 - 130'.

3. Walk a bit further south until you see some purple webbing sticking out of the ridge a few hundred feet away. Scramble southward along the slightly broken ridge to the next rap.

4. Rap off the west side from this dubious rap set up on a nut and two pitons. This was way more than 100'. Probably 150' to the ledge system.

5. Follow the (mostly) cairned, fairly easy path along the grassy ledges and slabs to the talus near the upper lake.
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