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Chimneys of Treasure

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Chimneys of Treasure Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 12,820'
Location: 39.02818, -107.11696 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 14,600
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Devan Johnson on Aug 1, 2006
This Afternoon

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You & This Area
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An Outward Bound student cruises up the South Donk...


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.

Getting There 

A concerned member of the community wrote:

"...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.

Climbing Season

For the Alpine Rock area.

Weather station 13.7 miles from here

2 Total Climbing Routes

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

Featured Route For Chimneys of Treasure
Rock Climbing Photo: Green marks the belays, yellow marks the rappel ro...

Roger's Route 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13  Colorado : Alpine Rock : 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 Colorado

Photos of Chimneys of Treasure Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Splitter, UNCLIMBED handcracks on the North Chimne...
Splitter, UNCLIMBED handcracks on the North Chimne...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Chimneys at sunset from Bear Basin.
The Chimneys at sunset from Bear Basin.
Rock Climbing Photo: Topping out on the South Donkey Ear. Capitol Peak ...
Topping out on the South Donkey Ear. Capitol Peak ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking over to Capitol and Snowmass.
Looking over to Capitol and Snowmass.
Rock Climbing Photo: Lookin' down on rog mid way up the second pitch. R...
BETA PHOTO: Lookin' down on rog mid way up the second pitch. R...
Rock Climbing Photo: As seen from Crystal Peak
As seen from Crystal Peak
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up from the lake on the North Pole Basin t...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up from the lake on the North Pole Basin t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cool looking chimney splitting one of the spires.
Cool looking chimney splitting one of the spires.
Rock Climbing Photo: Early evening.
Early evening.
Rock Climbing Photo: The final approach - Donkey Ear on the left.
The final approach - Donkey Ear on the left.
Rock Climbing Photo: The second pond you pass coming from North Pole Ba...
The second pond you pass coming from North Pole Ba...
Rock Climbing Photo: My 5 piece anchor amungst the rubble that is the t...
My 5 piece anchor amungst the rubble that is the t...
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the few pitons we found! I'm nearly at the ...
BETA PHOTO: One of the few pitons we found! I'm nearly at the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Our route up the grand chimney of Treasure Mountai...
BETA PHOTO: Our route up the grand chimney of Treasure Mountai...
Rock Climbing Photo: The first pond you pass in Bear Basin.  The chimne...
BETA PHOTO: The first pond you pass in Bear Basin. The chimne...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking back to the saddle between Crystal and Tre...
Looking back to the saddle between Crystal and Tre...
Rock Climbing Photo: I was here last summer without my rack... not sure...
I was here last summer without my rack... not sure...
Rock Climbing Photo: The chimneys as seen between the first and second ...
The chimneys as seen between the first and second ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Midday at the Chimneys.
Midday at the Chimneys.

Comments on Chimneys of Treasure Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 30, 2017
By Jeremy Hakes
From: Golden, Colorado
Feb 16, 2007
Beautiful! Didn't know anything about this area. Thanks!

Most of those roads are passable with a 2WD higher clearance vehicle when there isn't snow/mud.
By Jeff Gustafson
Nov 12, 2007
OK, so the basic location description is....?
By John Peterson
Nov 12, 2007
I'd be interested to hear from people that have come from the Gunnison side, parking at Schofield. I've heard that the land there is RMBL, but I haven't really had time to investigate.


Edited to add: came up North Pole Basin. Much private land - probably not a good idea.
By Devan Johnson
Nov 12, 2007
Hey Jeff- your best bet is to just grab the USGS Snowmass quad. The chimneys are clearly marked on the map, as the topozone link shows.

There are several great ways to get there. My map shows no private property on the bear basin approach, but probably best to error on the side of caution. Have fun back there!
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Nov 14, 2007
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.
By Buck Dooley
Sep 5, 2008
I thought this area was all part of the Raggeds Wilderness???

By Kevin Craig
May 9, 2009
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.
By Colter
Sep 14, 2009
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.
By drewski
Jul 31, 2010
Any beta on climbing the towers? Thanks
By John Peterson
Aug 5, 2012
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.

Here's a topo:,-...
By John Peterson
Sep 7, 2015
Some jerk on MP suggested that the pass between Treasury and Treasure would be a good approach. Having done this now, it's NOT the way to go - it was 2.5 hours to the pass and 1.5 hours from there to the rock, lots of up and down.

I think the right approach from the Gunnison side is probably through North Pole Basin - this was just opened to the public and is probably faster that coming in from Crystal. Most of this was visible from the rocks, and it looks fairly fast slab walking instead of the interminable talus coming from the pass. There's a good trail to the saddle between Treasury and Crystal, then you contour down and around through Bear Basin. I'd guess this is 3 hours, but I'll do it before I guarantee anything.
By John Peterson
Jul 28, 2016
OK - so now I have a definitive approach worked out.

Hike up the jeep road to North Pole Basin. The trailhead is a road that turns left a ways after the West Maroon parking lot just over Schofield Pass from CB. You can park just after the creek crossing (unless you want to wade across). A jeep can go about 1/2 mile up the road before it's blocked off but this wouldn't save a ton of time.

Follow the road up and into North Pole Basin. You'll pass some cabins and eventually get to a small lake (not the tiny one where you cross the stream - a bigger one above). From here, continue following the road as it turns into a trail. If in doubt, go right. This will lead up to the easy slopes below the ridge that connects Treasury and Crystal. Expect about 1.5 hours to this point. There is a good trail and great scenery.

From the saddle, look for a old mining trail that follows the cliff edge below towards Treasury. This will take you to a well define trail through the scree into the top of Bear Basin.

Bear Basin is a pleasant walk - mostly easy tundra. You're heading for a small pond ahead and below (this is shown on the topo maps). Don't try and hold onto your elevation - just aim for the downstream side of the pond.

Pass the pond, go down a ways, cross some boulders, and get on more tundra. A steep downhill takes you to a bench with yet another small pond. You're now able to see your destination. This would be an excellent bivi site. If you go over and a little up, you can follow a stream to yet another small pond below the Chimneys. Expect this to take about an hour from the pass. From here, you climb up slabs and scree to the climbs. Figure on three hours to reach the rocks.

This route is guaranteed or your money back!
By stephanie maltarich
Jul 30, 2017
I was trying to spot the Chimneys yesterday from West Maroon, still looks like a lot of snow, but I couldn't totally tell. Has anyone been up or around this summer?

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