The Chimneys of Treasure are a collection of wild and secluded [alpine] spires in the Elk Mountains ranging from 50 to 300 feet high. The spires hold a number of quality moderate climbs on surprisingly good rock. There are also some steep splitter hand and finger cracks on the Grand Chimney just begging to get climbed. Adventure climbing at its finest!
Although the area has potential for several first ascents, the area has been seeing climbers since the '60s. Outward Bound has been putting students on top of the spires for over 40 years and has kept the area entirely pristine. If you choose to climb at the Chimneys, please follow in this tradition.
"...the landowner who owns a huge chunk of land, including the approach route described on the site. He was really cool...but asked us not to advertise...[the approach].... In the past, he has given Outward Bound permission to cross his land when they take groups up there to hike and climb...."
It is my suggestion and request that the route approach described be removed in favor of a basic location description that leaves it up to people to figure out how to get there. I know that traditionally people (locals) have approached the Chimneys from the opposite side of the mountain, via the Skyline Mine road/trail. I believe they were doing this to avoid the private property issues. The Chimneys is an adventure destination, to say the least, and I think it would be fair to let people find their way with a map, compass, and sense of adventure."
So, please be respectful of property issues when considering this destination.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Chimneys of Treasure:
A super adventureous alpine route! The climbing is moderate but exposed! It is probably 5.8 climbing, but the loose rocks and the exposure sure makes it a lot headier. Don't get me wrong tho, a lot of the rock is pretty good. All the route needs is a good cleaning. The route climbs out of a chasm between the largest tower and Treasure Mountain, into a ramp, into a dihedral.The belay ledge is on top of the dihedral. We had a 70m rope and had a bit extra to spare when we got to the belay. A 60m sh...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
I need to take a closer look at the maps myself, but I'm the one who the landowner talked to and he was very adamant about not having the Bear Basin approach advertised. Evidently, he owns land on both sides of the Crystal and up the hillside into Bear Basin. There is a mix of private and public land in this area and the boundaries are often not clear. I talked to him about a way around his land but evidently, there is not a way around his land that goes into Bear Basin. There are many ways to approach the Chimneys and considering the nature of this area and the climbs, it seems best to let people determine their own path of approach, and keep it as the adventure area that it is. As noted, the Chimneys are clearly marked on maps so it's not like they're a "secret." It's my opinion that if someone wants to post a description that avoids private property then so be it, but I don't feel comfortable doing so myself. Enjoy.
Looking in TOPO! State Series maps for Colorado, it looks like the Wilderness boundary runs along the Treasure Mountain - Treasury Mountain ridge and the Chimneys of Treasure are north of the boundary i.e. not in the Wilderness. I could be wrong though and boundaries often change.
Appears that this whole area is part of the White River National Forest, but as we all know, there can be substantial in-holdings within NF boundaries. OTOH TOPO! does not show any large areas of mining claims (as it does around Lincoln, Democrat and Bross for e.g.) in this area (though the area is dotted with mines). I guess it'd require a search at the County assessor's office(?).
Looking at the map though, there appears to be a pretty obvious approach that doesn't start near the Crystal River if this is where Michael is saying the private property is.
The approach can be difficult, especially if you don't have a really badass 4 wheel drive car. The road is treacherous to say the least. You'll need to make it to the town of Crystal, wich is a tiny little mountain town at the base of Schofeild Pass, on the Carbondale side. Head up from Carbondale towards Marble, and continue past Marble to Crystal. Just before you get to the town of Crystal, you'll get a classic view of the Crystal River Mill from the road. Pass through town slowly, and after you're through bear right (south) and you'll end up in some campsites. There are a few good river crossings from these campsites, which is what you'll need to do. At this point you'll be bushwhacking, but if you continue straight up the slope on the other side of the river you'll eventually run into a trail within a half an hour or so. You can't miss the trail as it's traversing the slope you'll be going straight up. The trail will lead you all the way up the gorgeous, remote drainage. You can't miss the awesome towers, and the best camping is far up in the drainage. Really nice flat grassy/tundra lawns with granite humps surrounding, just below the spires. I'd give it 5 miles from the car camping sites to the bivy sites. No water purifier is needed up at the top of the drainage, and there seems to be melt off thru September, even on poor snow years due to massive wind loading on the upper slopes of treasure mountain. Car to car is do able, but the chimneys are intimidating and it could take a few days to enjoy them properly. We used dirt bikes to get from Marble to Crystal, parking at Beaver Lake in Marble. It would take a jeep or a smaller truck to breach the road into Crystal otherwise.
OK - let's clear up the approach issue. The place to start is Paradise Basin - that's the apex of the Slate River Road coming out of Crested Butte. Note that this is at 11,200' unlike Crystal, which is below 9000. The road up there is fine for any car, but have fun passing opposing traffic.
Follow the Yule Pass trail to the pass. This doesn't work early season - there can be heinous exposure crossing snow on this trail - but later is the season it's a pleasant stroll. Less than an hour to this pass.
Now follow the trail down the other side (not the mining road that keeps going up!). Unfortunately you lose about 400' here - I tried to cut over from the mine at the end of the road, but that didn't work. You might be able to contour from the pass but no guarantees. Anyway, a little less than 1/2 mile down you'll see a trail branching up and right - there's a big cairn here. This takes you to Yule Lakes. Follow this trail until you cross the stream coming down from the pass between Treasury and Treasure. At this point, climb up and left of the stream through bare rock and flower covered meadows. You're aiming for the left side of the pass above. The last bit is a bit steep - bring your tundra crampons :-). When you hit the pass, the chimneys are close and obvious. It's about 1.5 hours from Yule pass to this point.
I have to admit I didn't have time to head over to the rocks from here, but it looks like an easy stroll. It's just over 1/2 mile away, and you have to drop about 350' as you go.
I believe this whole approach is on public land. Probably about 3 hours in total. Very nice hiking too. The rock looks amazing from the pass - next time I'll bring my climbing gear.