Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: J. Alexander
Page Views: 9,397 total · 47/month
Shared By: Rob Mullen on Jul 12, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

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Access Issue: Seasonal Closures Details


This climb is not on the Diamond, but is on the Lower East Wall in between Stettner's Ledges and the Lamb's Slide. I believe it's most frequently climbed as an ice climb. However, due to the lack of beta that I could find on this route, I don't think it's climbed too often in any season anymore. We climbed it along with Upper Kiener's and this is definitely recommended, hence the Grade III rating. Other possible options are descending the Lamb's Slide, or rapping the Crack of Delight or North Chimney. This is an extremely committing climb, a lot of the rock is wet and makes the 5.5 feel like 5.8, especially if you are climbing in boots. It took us 18 hours to car to car.

Approach: from the Long's Peak Trailhead, hike to Chasm Lake, skirt the lake on the north side and make your way up and to the left to the base of the Lamb's Slide. To get to the base of the chimney you can ascend Lamb's Slide for about 300 feet and traverse right onto the broken rock band directly to the base of the chimney. You can also climb to the base of the rock band to minimize the amount of snow encountered.This snow band is about 100 feet high and 30 degrees, it was bulletproof ice when we climbed it. I took a nice 20 foot slide on it. Bring at least one pair of crampons and ice axe for your team. Lead up the snow and ice, trail a rope and pull the rest of your team up. It took 4 of us 3 hours to negotiate this slope without crampons or ice axe. Scramble up the broken rock band on 4th class rock, pick the line of least resistance and go as high as possible until you are on the highest ledge near the base of the chimney. There is a good belay here.

The climb (our way):

Pitch 1: 40 feet, 5.0 or 5.6. Climb up the wet chimney, 5.0, or try to find a 5.6 crack to the right. We climbed a small 5.6 crack with no feet, just to the right of the chimney and belayed about 40 feet up at some fixed gear on the right side of the chimney as we weren't sure where the route went from here.

Pitch 2: 120 feet, wet 5.5. In the chimney, there are two left-facing dihedrals, maybe one of these is 5.6 variation that Roach describes; however, they didn't look too promising for climbing in boots, low angled and slabby. We opted to climb directly up the wet chimney. Use stemming technique to get up this chimney, when the wall gets really steep and wet look back for footholds on the sides of the wall. This is tricky, wet, freaky climbing for sure. 5.5 in the chimney sounds about right, but it felt much harder. Climb up until you are about 20 feet below a HUGE chockstone, and belay here.

Pitch 3: 150 feet, 4th class. "Alexander's Traverse" Do an ascending 4th class traverse on a good ledge. Protect the second on this traverse as a stumble would be difficult to recover from. Climb for about 150 feet until the ledge ends beneath the "Dog Ear Flakes", and you are below obvious, left-facing dihedrals. Belay here.

Pitch 4: 200 feet, 5.5. Climb whichever dihedral looks best to you, in retrospect the best dihedral is probably the furthest left. Go up a dihedral for 40 feet, 5.5, then traverse left into the Yellow Bowl. Do not go too high on this pitch, if you can go left go left not up! We ran out the full 60m of rope on this pitch. Establish a belay in the Yellow Bowl. Without a 60m rope, you could break this up into two pitches, the dihedral and then the traverse.

Pitch 5: 80 feet, 5.4. Climb the far left hand side of the Yellow Bowl up to the Broadway Ledge. This was a fun pitch.

Here the route joins the Kiener's Route. Some quick details:

Traverse across Broadway Ledge to the base of Notch, climb up about 30 feet then get on the rock and climb Kiener's chimney. Make a quick turn to the right up a narrow slot, traverse north along some ledges, and angle up and to the left on the path of least resistance. We simul-climbed most of this section, establishing a quick belay here or there for some tricky sections of 5.4. Ascend the Devil's Staircase up about 700 feet, make a 4th class step around the Diamond face. There is a little bit of exposure here, around 2000 feet. If the weather is holding, scramble 200 feet to the summit; or else, descend the Cable Route. One double rope or two single rope raps off the old eye bolts escape the difficulties. Hike to the Boulderfield, and take the Keyhole Route back to the trailhead.

What a committing climb, a full day of old school mountaineering. I'm not sure I would do it again, but it was certainly worth doing once, if not only to imagine what it must have been like up there in 1922 on the first ascent. Do not leave the moxie at home.

The mixed/ice climb and its associated photos are here.


Standard RMNP Alpine Rack, the pitches are very long, so don't skimp. Also, cams work very well as most of the cracks are uniform and smooth. We brought a dozen slings, 6 draws, 12 cams .1-#3, and set of nuts and hexes. Bring an ice axe and crampons, one set should suffice for your team. We did not and sure wish we did.


Alexander's Chimney is a very viable descent option for the routes on the Lower East Wall as there are several rap stations. You'll need two 60 m ropes for below described descent.Find the first rap just 30 feet below Broadway on top of Alexander's Chimney. Scramble down to a ledge and look up to your right (East) to find the somewhat hidden slings on a piton and a nut above you. Rap down past the first obvious set of slings and go to the second set of slings wrapped around a boulder/chockstone, approx. 190 ft. From here on it gets really wet: rap straight down the chimney another 190 ft to a set of slings on two stoppers and an ancient 4-inch T-nut in the wall on the right side (West) about 20 feet before the obvious chimney ends. The final rap of another 160 ft gets you back down to the base of the Lower East Wall on the approach ledges about a hundred (or more) feet above the Lamb's Slide. My partner added carabiners to rap station 2 & 3 and a sling and stopper to station 3. We rapped off this route twice in a day (8/8/04) and had no problem with the ropes getting stuck, though there is a potential of that happening on the first rap. Expect your ropes to get soaked, and there is definitely potential for your rope pulls to knock rocks off which will pin-ball down the chimney. I'd do this descent any time again as opposed to the Lamb Slide or any of the other lengthy alternatives...... We saw several rock falls on Lamb's, one VW bug size rock tumbled down just as we would have been on it had we chosen to go that way. Not an option for me with the Chimney being so easy and quick (40 minutes). Aug 9, 2004
phil Sabet  
This is a great ice climb with quality mixed moves when it's in. This should be on every alpinist's tic list. Mar 30, 2008
Amos Patrick
Estes Park
Amos Patrick   Estes Park
Can this be rapped with a single 70m? Aug 17, 2010
Buzz Burrell
Buzz Burrell   Boulder
This is an odd route. Very historical, an excellent line on a beautiful and popular face - and yet uncommonly done. Why? I had soloed it onsite a couple decades ago, could hardly remember it, so went up to re-aquaint myself, this time with a partner and gear. A good addition.

The Chimney is low angle with large holds, but the holds are either flowing with cold water or covered in ice. What would be an enjoyable scramble is instead sketchy or aggravating. After that, it's a romp - in the sun, warm dry rock, great position. The route description is very good - if you do the big 4th class traverse right, climb up about 50' with some moderate 5th class moves, then do another big 4th class traverse left into the bowl, an easy 50' up to Broadway is all that remains.

Route correction pitch 3: there are 3 obvious dihedrals, but they all face right, not left (because of that, we went to the end of the ramp to make sure; the 3rd dihedral climbed fine).

Route suggestion: instead of finishing with Keiner's, do the first part of that which is nice, then when it turns to 3rd class gravel and diagonals up right, go straight up and finish with Stepladder; this way is more straightforward and quite consistent 4th class all on clean rock.

Aug 15, 2016
Jay Wimer
Chama NM
Jay Wimer   Chama NM
I first climbed Alexander's Chimney in 1952 when I was 17, with Dave Steiner, led by the late great Otto Von Allmen. That was before all the frenzy on The Diamond. The next year I led the climb with Dave Lewis and Beth Dickey. In those days, we really didn't know much about climbing, and this was prior to all the rating of climbs. I was not a super-strong boy, and the climb, while difficult, was not all that strenuous.

The biggest problem with the chimney in summer was staying on course, because there was very little iron in place to point the way. I don't recall that water was any problem in late August. Near the top of the route, I got lost, and instead of going left, I went UP, but there was one very old piton that gave me hope, so I managed to make it to Broadway without too much trouble.

The trouble developed on the upper reaches of the Kiener's. I was way too cocky after conquering Alexander's. I went too far up instead of right, failed to test a loose hand hold, and went tumbling for about 100 feet, landing just above the abyss. Beth held the belay and prevented a disaster. The fall cracked my right fibula (which I didn't know until the next day), but I was able to finish the climb and happily pranced down the old cables and home, due to some amazing pills in the first-aid kit. We didn't know much about safety gear. I wore an old Stetson hat. As others have noted, small to large rocks would come whizzing by as we climbed, but the idea of helmets never crossed our minds. I'm always both impressed and more than a little bit astonished by the concept of doing anything on Long's in winter. I turned back from as many climbs as I finished, due to threatening weather. Sep 10, 2018