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Southern Pillar
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Great Chimney 

YDS: 5.1 French: 2 Ewbanks: 6 UIAA: II British: MD 2a

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 265'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Mark Carpenter, Tal Bielefeldt 1965
Page Views: 391
Submitted By: Peter Jackson on Aug 11, 2010
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Great as in "large," not as in "fantastic."

This route is listed largely for historical completeness, as it does not (and perhaps should not) get climbed much, other than as easy access to the better climbs adjacent to it.

Both guidebooks list this route as 5.1, although many might argue that it's sandbag at that grade. This is not a suitable beginner's route: it's a dirty, chossy adventure route. Be warned, and be ready to retreat if you get in over your head.

Begin by climbing / scrambling up a loose, dirty gulley filled with blocky bulges, dirty ledges, and loose scrambles. There is pro on either side wall, and there are some trees along the way to sling.

The climbing isn't great for the first half of the first pitch, but if it's chimney moves you seek, the second half of the first pitch will not disappoint. Use jams, stems, and spans to climb the chimney to a large ledge belay on the left.

Most people exit the route here and go for a better adjacent route. If you continue straight up P2, be prepared for a very organic experience.


Begin below the large gulley / chimney that splits the formation in the WEST and EAST buttresses.


Double ropes recommended to guard against rope drag in the gulley. Pro on both sides of the gulley and chimney. Bring some long slings for trees.

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By Andy Weinmann
From: Alexandria, VA
Oct 7, 2013
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a PG13

I don't know if the person who submitted this actually climbed this or not but it's not 5.1...not by a long shot. This is adventure climbing at it's finest. Here's a real description:

P1: Climb a short, blocky wall in the large chimney/gulley. Move up through some turfy ledges with just enough rock sticking out, placing gear wherever you can get it, mostly on the side walls. Continue up to a tree with some slings on it. OPTIONAL BELAY.

Continuing up, move up a dirt slope passing two more good sized trees and gain the main chimney below a large boulder stuck above you in the chimney. Pass under the boulder and continue up using cracks in the back wall and chimney moves. Work your way up through the blocky upper portion to a large ledge on the left. Around the corner is Mrs. Robinson and a host of other decent climbs.

P2: Continue up through the blocky gully to the top. The 2nd pitch gets a bit more overgrown but just a short ways up the pitch are two good climbs on the right wall: Craving For Pink and Hidden Gem.

You will find yourself stemming a lot and using some decent chimney moves on this climb. I'd almost give it an "R" rating...there are certainly some 'do not fall' areas where it be a long, tumbling ride. Bottom line: this is not a 5.1 and not a climb for beginners.

By John Hughes
1 day ago
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a R

Looking down during first pitch
Looking down during first pitch
I agree with Andy completely except we never finished the climb. We made it to the first tree and bailed because we had already determined that this climb was not what we thought it was. The picture I took does not show how steep the dirt section is and I did not feel comfortable climbing the dirt section, so I did what I could to stay on either side or use Yoga inspired chimney moves to make it to the next piece placement. I was able to place gear in most places but I agree with the R rating that Andy gave it because there was virtually no gear and no hand holds on the way to the tree and it would have been a really out of control tumbly and dangerous fall on gear that I was hoping would hold. Also, we used two ropes which seamed to help since I found gear placements on both sides of the chimney.

By Peter Jackson
From: Rumney, NH
1 day ago

I have indeed climbed the great chimney. But at the time I submitted it to MP, I didn't know too much about writing a good route description.

I'd have been happy to respond to a PM suggesting a better route description rather than a passive aggressive flame in the comments questioning whether I was qualified to list the route here.

When I climbed the route, the old guide listed it at 5.1. The new guide also lists it at 5.1. That doesn't make it suitable for a newb. The very best way to suggest an upgrade is to use the consensus rating on MP.

As the original poster of the route -- but not as the FA or guidebook author -- I felt it was important to honor the judgement of Carpenter, Bielefeldt, and Barnes.

Regardless of grade, there are no beginner routes at Seneca. Always go with someone experienced.