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Northeast Chimney T 

Northeast Chimney 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b R

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 150'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: unknown
Page Views: 4,721
Submitted By: John J. Glime on May 3, 2003  with updates from EricWerfel

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Rappelling off of Northeast Chimney. This was the ...

Read about Anchor Replacement and Restrictions in Arches National Park MORE INFO >>>


The route follows the obvious crack/weakness in the center of the northeast face on the formation. The route starts just left of two deceivingly big boulders in front of the northeast face. Note: The route can be climbed in one pitch with a 60 meter rope, however this is not recommended due to rope drag and poor communication once inside of the chimney.

Pitch One: Follow the obvious crack up and then right over a couple of small ledges for approximately 60 feet? until you come to a good ledge with a rappel anchor/belay station. (I am not positive how long this 1st pitch is, but it is pretty short.) This part of the climb is easily protected, the rock is a bit loose in some spots and is an easy 5.6 pitch. If this pitch had slightly better rock, I would consider this route 3 star.

Pitch Two: The standard route second pitch steps right from the belay, goes thru a tunnel, to a crack on the far side of the chimney, from where it is easy (and enjoyable) 5.6 G-rated climbing. It is not at all obvious, and i started up the obvious off-width first, but goint right it is the safest and easiest way to the top, and should therefore be considered the standard route.

Pitch Two Variation: Straight up "thru" a 5.7 offwidth, which is pretty much unprotectable. Have a small cam available for one possible placement that I found. (I didn't have one, and put a nut in for psychological comfort, however, if you fall here you will probably hit the belay ledge anyway.) I also had a #4 Big Bro which i placed for more comfort, but it later fell out due to rope drag. So this is what I would consider the R section. The climbing isn't that hard, but you probably don't want to fall here. In that sense, it is a classic offwidth. After about 15-20 feet you will finally come to a place where you can enter the chimney proper. It isn't as much of a haven as is hoped, but jump in and traverse into the chimney and out of sight. A 15 foot traverse will bring you to an intimidating "room." This is really a classic chimney opportunity and, if it weren't for the offwidth downclimb, would be a point for retreat I imagine, after your initial view upward. This chimney is rated 5.6 (remember that...)and instead of just rushing blindly upward, continue to traverse deeper into the chimney until you come to a crack system that is on the left wall. This is the point of easiest upward progress, and occasionally as you get higher you will have great protection opportunities. Eventually you will jump into the crack as it approaches the top of the tower and 15 more feet will lead you to the anchors. The second pitch is about 90 feet in length.

Descent: With a 60 meter rope you can reach the belay ledge on top of the first pitch, and easily use the same rope for a second rappel to the ground. Two ropes should easily reach the ground from the top, and if they don't you can stop at the belay/rappel ledge above mentioned. Rappel the route.

Side notes: Overall this is really a fantastic adventure climb for the moderate leader. I climbed it to avoid crowds at owl rock and because it is one of the few moderately rated routes in the desert, however, what I found was totally unexpected. This route deserves much more respect. It is exciting and feels like a nice accomplishment. If 5.7 is your limit however, you are probably much better off climbing owl rock where you can sew the route up with gear. Climbing Owl Rock the next day was easy compared with the spirit of the Northeast Chimney route. Enjoy! As the details of this climb were unknown to me before I climbed it, and as I don't know anyone else who has climbed this route I look forward to reading future comments... perhaps I am off base with my enthusiasm, let me know.


A standard desert rack.

Photos of Northeast Chimney Slideshow Add Photo
This is a picture of the northeast face with the t...
This is a picture of the northeast face with the t...
The formation on the far right.
BETA PHOTO: The formation on the far right.
john nearing top of chimney
john nearing top of chimney
A shot of me looking up at the unprotected chimney...
A shot of me looking up at the unprotected chimney...
Tom leading the first pitch of Northeast Chimney.
Tom leading the first pitch of Northeast Chimney.
Todd Gordon on the summit of Off Balance Rock.  Ph...
Todd Gordon on the summit of Off Balance Rock. Ph...
Me leading P1 directly below the 5.7 bulge blockin...
Me leading P1 directly below the 5.7 bulge blockin...
Richard Green leading up the second pitch of North...
Richard Green leading up the second pitch of North...
john 3/4 up chimney
john 3/4 up chimney

Comments on Northeast Chimney Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 22, 2015
By L. Hamilton
May 12, 2003

When I did it a couple of years back, it was tough to find anchors at the first belay ledge. Is that still the case? An obvious cam crack, well-used to judge from the erosion, is actually behind a huge unsupported flake that I didn't want to touch. On the second pitch I placed a TCU in the sandy pin scar at the crux -- that held its own weight, probably not much more. The moves aren't hard, but you're out there in the no-falling zone. Once inside the chimney, and following a nice crack, things feel more secure. I agree with John, it's a serious climb for the grade.
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 16, 2004

We did this route last weekend and there are anchors on the first pitch. the second pitch was a free solo because we did not know to go deep into the chimney to look for the crack. it was scary and there was no place for gear unless you have one of those nice new #5 big bros.
By Craig Quincy
Mar 17, 2004
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This is a good route, but not a great route. The first pitch is pretty mungey, but the second pitch makes up for it. I wouldn't recommend this for a 5.7 leader unless I didn't like them. It's definitely awkward with bad pro until you get up into the chimney proper. The supertopo says a rack isn't necessary on the second pitch, but that seems like bad advice. There's a piece or two of marginal gear to be had before getting in the chimney, once inside tunnelling about 15 feet in yields a crack that can be sewn up.

There's two bolts on top and one bolt plus some slung chockstones atop pitch one for the rap anchors.

I would definitely recommend Owl rock or Lizard rock over this tower, but it's worth doing once.
By Anonymous Coward
Mar 21, 2005

I did enjoy this route quite a bit. I would recommend approaching from the pull-off by walking back along the 'Windows' road toward the intersection and then down the main road - cut up hill straight toward the tower in a wash. This utilizes the shortest distance across the bio-soil. I would agree that there maybe some marginal gear near the beginning of the second pitch (equalize). I did not notice the crack inside the chimney until near the top. But after considering how far inside the crack is and how comforting the edge of the chimney felt, I'm glad that I did not move over to it until I saw it. It was however very nice to have a nut in it to finish on the slick slab before the anchors. I felt this route had some classic, desert tower aura about it.
By James Beissel
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 23, 2006

You can place a yellow Alien before you enter the chimney and maybe a small stopper. That is the only pro until you get into the crack deep in the chimney, and it is marginal at that. Not for the 5.7 leader, but rewarding and cool for those who are up for it.

Cam Burn's guide shows a fixed pin before the traverse. If this pin ever existed it is gone now.

A single set from yellow Alien to a #3 Camalot with possibly some doubles on finger to hand size is about right. There aren't any placements for large cams on the second pitch, although a #4 or #5 Big Bro might work.
By Brad Brandewie
Dec 4, 2006

It sounds like some folks are going straight up for 20 feet to start the second pitch. That way is considerably harder and would result in a ledge fall if you blew it in the wrong spot.

The easy way is to climb above the ledge about 5 feet and then tunnel into the chimney. Once in, you can basically walk to the middle of the formation and then GRUNT though 10 feet of squeeze chimney (If you're fat, you won't fit) until the chimney becomes more fun and the protection crack appears.
By Ben Kiessel
Dec 11, 2006

Brad why would we want to climb into the chimney to place gear when it is way cooler to stay on the outside and run it out to the top? It's all about the style points man.
By Matt Pickren
Mar 26, 2007

Brad, I have to agree with Ben, its all about the style points. I did this tower 4 years ago, with no gear on the entire second pitch, mainly because I didnt know how to read a guide book topo. I returned and took some friends up it this past weekend, and again, knowing the route, did the same as it feel really secure inside the chimney. Style points, but if your just an aid climber, you wouldn't understand.
However, if you are interested in the route my firends did just what you said, pull 1 or 2 akward moves off the belay and then squeeze into the slot immediatley (being fat is not an option, so I couldn't have made it according to Ben). Then you can totally walk back on the chimney floor to the crack and protect it straight to the top. I also agree with John on preferring this route over the Olevsky on Owl.

Also, there is a new bolt and fixed hex equallized to rap slings on the 1st pitch beay.
By Andrew Gram
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 28, 2007

Could we keep the banter on the forums? Its a bummer if you are trying to print out the page for beta and some of the comments are useful. Not that anyone would ever need to print out beta for this one, but even so.
By Sam Lightner, Jr.
From: Lander, WY
Apr 23, 2007

The Arches Task Force replaced the anchors on this route. There are now camouflaged chains on the first belay and at the summit. Though I did not try it, I believe you can comfortably rap with one 60 meter rope (two raps).
A prominent local climber reminded me of something before we replaced the anchors... when you get to the chains on this one, you have not summited. The block behind you is about two meters higher than the rest of the tower and requires a 5.11 move to get to... with bad pro. Some people might have to recount their tower list!
By toddgordon
From: Joshua Tree, California
Apr 27, 2007

For the "timid" sandstone neophyte, the 5.7 rating is a worm on the end of a hook.....it was for me anyways. I did this climb in the early 1980's with Doug Smith, and we had a good time, but unprotected chimneying on sandy sandstone aint' for everyone. Still, I think it gets done often, and often by novice climbers cutting their sandstone teeth and desiring the "tower experience." It's all alot of fun until someone loses an eye;....don't slip!
By TuFF GonG
From: gunnison Colorado
Dec 17, 2007
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

There is plenty of good gear in the chimney. As long as you traverse far into the chimney right off the belay, it will swallow up all the nuts and small gear you bring.
By Eric Odenthal
Oct 14, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13

great route... classic chimney. climbed it in one pitch. there are two chain anchors, could rap with one 60m rope. instead of cruising up the OW after the first anchor... crawl your way back into the chimney to a crack that pros really well all the way to the anchor, but you don't really want pro because of rope drag... awesome to be way inside... bring a head lamp!?
By JoergB
From: Germany
Oct 14, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13

From the first belay, I crawled horizontally inside the chimney till I nearly got out on the other side, then stemmed up and finally went to the center of the chimney where the crack is. I wonder if I really should recommend that variant, but at least its possible.
By Bryan T
From: Albuquerque, NM
Jul 7, 2010

Top of first pitch to bottom is about 75 feet. Would be nice to have some clear glasses as the crack in the chimney was pouring sand. There is a bit of lose rock on the first pitch through the short traverse and where the old gear belay used to be, recommend a helmet for belayer.
By paul bucher
From: moab, utah
Oct 17, 2011

did it yesterday (second time) with john lewis. takes a single set of camalots up to #5 and some med to large stoppers and a couple of runners. placed one extra #2 camalot size trango cam. did not really need the #5. protects well, not to run out, fun route. not your average 5.7
By DJ Reyes
From: Northern Nevada
Nov 22, 2012

Did this route this morning (Thanksgiving) with my brother. Waaaay exciting climbing inside the chimney. I didn't do any offwidth, but instead walked along the floor of the chimney till I was about halfway through at where the crack can be seen on the west side. Really fun and protected climbing up the chimney leads to the bolts at the summit. I didn't use any really wide gear on the route. I also thought that the first pitch was harder than 5.6, but then I haven't climbed a lot of sandstone lately and could have been a bit shaky.
By Josh Cameron
From: Moab, Colorado
Jan 3, 2014
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R

Started the 2nd pitch the same as DJ Reyes. No need for insecure runout liebacking with a bad fall; instead get inside the chimney as soon as you can and work your way to the center.
By Zak Munro
From: VT,CO, Bar Harbor ME
Apr 22, 2015

Most of the comments are spot on. Unless you got big bros skip the off width and head through the chimney until you get to a crack on the left. Great climbing in the chimney and good gear.
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