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Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness

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Chimney Rock 
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Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness 

Photos: Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 14,309'
Location: 38.1501, -107.7567 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 8,839
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Oct 15, 2009
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The Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain massif.


The Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness is the centerpiece of San Juan mountaineering and presently comprises an area in excess of 102,000 acres in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Technical climbing can be found throughout, although many of the high peaks can be ascended as hikes alone. The San Juan mountaineers have established technical routes on many of the peaks with many of these ascents being roped winter ascents with or without ski descents. A who's who of interesting peaks includes Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 feet), Wetterhorn Peak (14015), Matterhorn Peak (13,700), and various lesser peaks including Turret, Coxcomb, Precipice, Dunsinane, Courthouse Mountain, and Chimney Peak. The Cimmeron Range itself is included in the area and can be host to a near infinite amount of high end technical climbing. In many of the areas we have visited in recent years the potential for very difficult bouldering on welded tuffa, schist, and conglomerate rock is likewise almost endless. Although frequently disparaged, rock quality throughout the wilderness is enormously variable, but frequently excellent. While some of the welded tufa is truly bullet proof, some of the softer conglomerate is probably not of much interest for pure rock climbing, although possibly fine in winter. In addition, crags found in the surrounding National Forest and BLM land will be subject to different regulation vis-a-vis in situ protection than crags in the wilderness proper. Don't be surprised, however, to find old rusty pitons tucked away on crags within the present wilderness boundary.

Getting There 

The Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness is accessed from Ouray, Ridgeway, Lake City, and Gunnison in south/west Colorado. Detailed access will be provided for the specific mountain or crag destination as this area evolves.

Climbing Season

2 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',2],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness:
Southwest Chimney   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 80'   Coxcomb Peak
South Chimney   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches   Chimney Rock
Browse More Classics in Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness

Featured Route For Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness
On the approach. Make note of the ridge to the left.  John photo.

South Chimney 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock is eye catching to anyone, especially a climber. I have a feeling this gets attempted way more than it gets done though. The approach is as tough as the climbing. Climb up fun and sometimes unprotectable cobble for 3 pitches. Then do an optional 4th pitch traverses to the summit, it's nice to have protection for a step across a chasm.When heading to the start of the route, head toward the small summit on the ridge south of the peak, walk up steep unpleasantness. 5th class scram...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness Slideshow Add Photo
Courthouse Mtn. and connecting ridge from the summit of Chimney Peak.
Courthouse Mtn. and connecting ridge from the summ...
Wetterhorn in winter, March 2013.
Wetterhorn in winter, March 2013.
Greg Gorrell descending Uncompahgre during a successful Wetterhorn-Uncompahgre winter attempt, March 2013.
Greg Gorrell descending Uncompahgre during a succe...
Red Cliff on the left, 13,642, and Coxcomb on the right, 13,656, have both walk-up ascents and technical routes.
Red Cliff on the left, 13,642, and Coxcomb on the ...
Self portrait after failed attempt on Fall (1976) ascent of Chimney Peak (peeking out on left). Unexpected snowstorm and aforementioned dubious rock thwarted attempt.  L to R - Jon Ake - Scott Mossman - Jack Panek.
Self portrait after failed attempt on Fall (1976) ...
On top of Wetterhorn, the big Unc in the background - Fall 1972. <br /> <br />In the orange jacket is Gary Kocsis, famous Colorado mountaineer. <br /> <br />Photo by Chuck Tolton.
On top of Wetterhorn, the big Unc in the backgroun...
Precipice Peak, 13,144, is also well armed with adventure climbing potential.
Precipice Peak, 13,144, is also well armed with ad...
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