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North Ridge 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 650', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
Season: Summer
Page Views: 8,195
Submitted By: Sarge on Mar 31, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (47)
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BETA PHOTO: Pitch 4. This pitch tunnels through the chimney 40...


This route is INTERESTING. If you're looking for an adventure, it is a must do.

P1. Climb the obvious crack for 140' 5.7-5.8

P2. Move climber's right and follow twin 5.7 cracks to a notch or shoulder.

P3. Move climber's right again and begin to "tunnel." This is where the climb gets crazy. You are in the Great North Chimney. Basically, there is a detached piece of granite (about the size of two football fields) that you climb through. I thought it felt like a coffin. The route finding on this pitch is very difficult because there is low light. My partner and I tunneled all the way through to the SW side. CRAZY. We found a plethora of bail gear at this point.

P4. Climb a beautiful 5.8 corner.

P5. This pitch is chossy and depending on your skill, you might want to unrope.


Finding the start of the route is key. You can easily get off-route.
Descent is dubious. We rapped 4 single-rope rappels.


Standard alpine rack, two ropes seemed unnecessary.
Check out Joe Kelsey's Wind River book for further details.

Photos of North Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The ledge at the top of Pitch 4.
BETA PHOTO: The ledge at the top of Pitch 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of Pitch 1. You can start up either crack. T...
BETA PHOTO: Start of Pitch 1. You can start up either crack. T...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3. Jeff chimneying to the chockstone belay. ...
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 3. Jeff chimneying to the chockstone belay. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Route Overlay North Ridge
BETA PHOTO: Route Overlay North Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: The roped climbing begins at the base of a crack t...
BETA PHOTO: The roped climbing begins at the base of a crack t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Not the best pic, but this gives an idea of the ch...
BETA PHOTO: Not the best pic, but this gives an idea of the ch...
Rock Climbing Photo:
Rock Climbing Photo: rappin
Rock Climbing Photo: Approaching the chimney
BETA PHOTO: Approaching the chimney
Rock Climbing Photo: reccomended
Rock Climbing Photo: The upper section of pitch 1
The upper section of pitch 1
Rock Climbing Photo: Tunelling inside the Great North Chimney.
Tunelling inside the Great North Chimney.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 5. The harder (5.9) but better option is to ...
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 5. The harder (5.9) but better option is to ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Route Overlay North Ridge
BETA PHOTO: Route Overlay North Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: Jeff on the 5.9 corner pitch to the top. This is a...
BETA PHOTO: Jeff on the 5.9 corner pitch to the top. This is a...
Rock Climbing Photo: Steeple in the middle
Steeple in the middle

Comments on North Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 12, 2017
By Tea
Dec 25, 2007

The Chimney is a cool feature. "Death Block" in kelsey guide is gone.
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Aug 13, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

For us the 5th pitch was the 5.8 corner ending on the summit. After moving the belay to the notch below the chimney, the 3rd pitch gets you up into the chimney a ways and the 4th up and out of the chimney to the bottom of the 5th pitch (watch for rope drag in the chimney!) I think there were 4 single rope raps to get to the slopes below the Steeple/Lost Temple Spire col.
By John Bradford
From: Yellowstone National Park
Aug 24, 2008
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

A very good but not great climb, interesting only for the novelty of the chimney pitch. That said though, the 5th pith (5.8 corner)to the summit is excellent. It is possible to descend into the Black Joe Drainage on the east side of the peak, from the notch after the third rappel. Keep bearing to the left as you descend, aiming for the snow fields. This was a great hike out; skirting the northern buttress of Haystack to reurn to our Deep Lake camp. I have attached photos of all of this.
By Terry Price
From: Mancos CO
Oct 29, 2009

I've done this route twice, so my enthusiasm is evident. Hard to imagine a better finishing pitch — a great 5.8 corner that ends as one virtually touches the summit with your hand, with exhilarating exposure the entire length of the pitch. The "chimney" is totally unique. More like a daylight, above-ground spelunk. You feel as if you have been absorbed by the bowels of the mountain the "chimney" is so large. Various ways exist to worm through this passage and exit below the aforesaid final pitch. All this and a technical descent from a beautifully sculptured peak. This is a great climb. I might do it a third time.
By Liz Donley
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 30, 2010

We totally loved this route.

The chimney pitch was tough for the grade but totally awesome. Maybe there is an easier way than the way we went? It was pretty physical toward the top, but nothing a bit of Vedauwoo training won't prepare you for!

For the final pitch we did the variation that steps right from the big ledge and goes up the right facing dihedral/handcrack to the summit. It was stellar!
By Alison Conrad
Sep 9, 2011

Great route on excellent rock. Pitch 1 is over 200 ft. We simulclimbed to get to the notch. P2 goes over blocks and utilizes the double crack system to the third class ledge. The chimney pitch is unique. Tunnel thru and head up. It will look like it does not go, but it seems to work. Gear can be a little hard to get. Belay at next pedestal. Next pitch exits the chimney and has some awkward moves. Last pitch is awesome crack corner that is clean and protects well. Four short raps get you down where you follow grassy ledges to the bottom. Standard rack to #3. Doubles of everything.
By BruceB
From: Reno, NV
Aug 3, 2012

Very fun and adventurous climb. Every pitch is interesting in its own way. The last pitch (5.8 variation) is absolutely beautiful.

A little beta on the chimney: On the first chimney pitch there's a rather exposed and hard to protect short traverse before you get into the chimney, then the actual chimney section is very short and easy. The 2nd chockstone where you belay is only about 10 feet above the corridor floor. If you have packs it's easy to haul them up the 10 feet separately.
The actual "tunneling" is just a walk/scramble around the corner to the right where you set up the next belay. The second chimney pitch is a bit wider (stemming wide) so packs aren't a problem here.
Flashlights are not required. Combining these two pitches seems rather problematic.

The raps off are obvious. We didn't need to rap any of the grassy ledges, although we did see the slings. Only one rope required.

Well worth doing. The views from the summit are great.
By Dapper Dan Rogers
From: Driggs, ID
Aug 19, 2012

You can also take a "scramble" route at the top of the chimney, in lieu of the crack system, if you care to skip it. Scramble over the chockstone roof at the top of the chimney, to under, around, and on top of a big leaning block. One exposed crack move then takes to about a 30ft scramble to the top.
By Sam Cannon
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 24, 2013

The blue guide-book mentions a 5.9 finish as opposed to the scramble - it's well worth it! Instead of hanging left after scrambling out of the chimney work your way right to an obvious crack that will take you to the summit. Awesome pitch - adventurous route!
By pfwein
From: Boulder, CO
Aug 19, 2013

Doing the chimney / tunnel "pitch" in one pitch seemed like a bad idea due to the way the rope would run--I agree with BruceB's comment.
Some topos I saw gave the tunnel an "R." I'm generally reluctant to say pro is good lest someone rely on that and get injured for whatever reason. But it seemed to me that solid gear was available with no terrifying runouts (no wide gear is necessary--nothing bigger than #3 C4--and it would take huge big bros, if that, to span the chimney/tunnel). To start the chimney pitch, I pulled the 5.8 finger crack, then went right, up, and back left (use very long runners) before entering the chimney proper.
That said, part of "easy" chimney climbing is that you are your own pro, and so don't take this as any guarantee, just my subjective experience.
By Ryan Stefani
Sep 3, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

We heard about a sketchy descent from folks there, plus there are a lot of mixed information here. We had a very straight forward, easy descent using two 60m ropes. Here are the details:

1. From summit, look through the port hole to the Cirque to the north. Downclimb (3rd class) about 10' on the east side of the summit. Walk south to an obvious rap. 80'.

1b. Stay on rap and walk south for about 10-15' to avoid the slightly slopey, very exposed corner.

2. Continue walking south along the big, wide, flat ridge to the next obvious rap. We threw both ropes to be completely safe. I would guess this one is probably 125 - 130'.

3. Walk a bit further south until you see some purple webbing sticking out of the ridge a few hundred feet away. Scramble southward along the slightly broken ridge to the next rap.

4. Rap off the west side from this dubious rap set up on a nut and two pitons. This was way more than 100'. Probably 150' to the ledge system.

5. Follow the (mostly) cairned, fairly easy path along the grassy ledges and slabs to the talus near the upper lake.
By Chris Dickson
From: Telluride, Colorado
Aug 4, 2015

My partner and I were kind of shocked that there is no discussion here of the approach for this climb. HOWEVER, IF YOU WANT THE FULL ADVENTURE, STOP READING!

However, if you do want some info, here ya go: from Upper Deep Lake, look straight up at Steeple, there are several left-leaning grassy ramps that lead up to the ridge, we took the left-most ramp and traversed up this until you are able to cut back right towards Steeple Peak. From there, the "obvious" 5.7 crack is just that, however there is a 3rd/4th class ridge walk to get there. Walk along the ridge to the base of some jumbled low-5th class terrain (if you see the memorial plaque for fallen climber Ryan Sayers to the left, then you're on the right track). We scrambled up to the base of the crack (two cracks really, fingers on the right, and a wider crack on the left (which you climb)) and belayed on a nice ledge, which only made the 1st pitch about 130' to the notch. From there, go WAY right up a gully to find two right-leaning cracks which trend around the West side of the ridge to the 3rd class walk. From there, the rest should be obvious! In the chimney, just go right (then up) when going straight up looks hard and you'll get spit out on the ledge below the final corner. Enjoy! We thought this route felt more adventurous than any of the other routes we did in the area.
By Michael Hasson
From: Sausalito, CA
Jul 25, 2016

A bit more descent beta because we had some issues when we did it July 21, 2016:

For the last rap that Ryan mentions, DO NOT go off the west face. Continue down the ridge. A double rope rap off the face leaves you with a 15 foot downclimb to a ledge and an incredibly difficult rope pull. Stay on the ridge and then take one more rap down into a little gully of loose rocks.

From there, the cairns led us to two more improvised rap stations (could be done in one rap with double 60s) to get over the highest cliff band. We also found a way to get down without rapping that involved a somewhat sketchy traverse over slabs. This way would be impossible if any weather moved in.
By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 23, 2017

On the day we went to climb this route my partner had this page and all comments printed out. He forgot it in the tent. Thank God he did because the amount of confusing and contradictory information is staggering. Even the Bechtel guide is vague and not particularly useful.

The first two pitches are pretty easy to find and follow. The first pitch starts a little ways up after some 4th class terrain on the West side. A pair of cracks start you off. The left one (with the wide looking start) is the ticket. Take it to the ridge and the second pitch goes up and right following the most obvious line.

The chimney is where we lost time and got confused. First off, as you approach don't try to get straight to the base of the chimney. There is a way to do it but it looks like a 5.9 finger crack with poor gear after crouching along the ramp. Instead there is a nice easy ramp and block system off to the right that takes you a few feet higher and lets you make an exposed stepover into the chimney. Traverse in about 40 feet and there's a nice gravel spot right in the center of the chimney.

Here's where things obviously get funky for a lot of people. You CAN go all the way through the chimney here (to the south side) but you don't want to. Instead you want to go straight up to a second "level" of the chimney. A lot of people go through and try to go up on the far side of this first "level" and find themselves in a flaring chimney with no pro. Not what you want.

You can either go in to the gravel spot in the center of level 1 and then traverse back out and up (~30 feet) to the north side or climb the outside north face which looked like unprotectable 5.6 moves. The chimney itself has minimal pro but is secure. Step around onto the face and immediately reenter the chimney. I belayed on some chockstones to avoid rope drag. I also saw a few various tat anchors here.

Next head up and over some chockstones for about 20 feet vertically and actually walk to the south side of the chimney on this second "level". You can peer out the south side of the mountain and enjoy the airy view. You'll see the nice precarious death flake and chockstones directly above you. Chimney up with minimal to no pro and it will spit you out on the south/east side of the chimney at the nice ledge area. Easier for taller folks. It looked like it might have been possible to exit straight out of the second "level" left onto a tiny catwalk that would lead to a corner taking you up to the ledge (or onto some terrifying incipient cracks with bail gear in them). Some parties sound like they've done this variation.

For the 4th class finish step west onto the chockstones on top of the chimney you just climbed (loose). Follow this up and right, pass under the giant perched flake and then work left on top of it and up some ledges to the summit. Not very straightforward climbing. The 5.9/5.8 finish is the corner that takes you straight to the summit (which is east of your belay).

The descent was exactly as described, very straightforward. 1 60M rope worked beautifully for all raps. Just follow the cairns down to Deep Lake.
By Crag Turkey
From: Holladay, UT
Sep 12, 2017

What a great adventure, even though I got off route in the chimney and went into the "flare". Whatever you do in the chimney, do not miss out on the final dihedral as others have said this is the best pitch on route and finishes things nicely.

Quick beta for staying on route in chimney-
a) fun start at the very base of the system, but you will likely get lured right at some point to avoid some of the tighter part of the lower chimney. Seems like this saves you some OW struggle.
b) Once you get into the chimney Pro felt sparse for roughly 30' until the crack traverses left and you can get some cams in. Climbing is easy during the run out, helps trail a pack if you have one
c)Next section will be much wider and you will travel inside the chimney. stem up between two coffin sized rocks that may have slings on them. Once on top this is where you should pay attention.
d)you can belay here or if you take on the drag you will see that the chimney takes a right turn towards the sun, at this turn is the OW flare that I got off route on (Steph Abegg took a good photo of this part). If you find yourself stopping at this corner in the chimney and doing some face moves upwards into a tunnel OW... you're off route. Follow the chimney and look for the ledge and chock stone.

I hope that helps, I know the above comments didn't help keep me on route, but that's my fault. Great adventure either way you take it... just probably easier and more fun if you can avoid the difficult to protect OW flare.

Easy to get off with 1 60m or 70m rope. Straightforward, follow the obvious belay stations as they go down towards Lost Temple Spire. You basically stick to the ridge until a big rap to the west. Then you will zig zag through a gaggle of optional raps/downclimbs on grassy ledges between slab. Felt like we initially trended left on scree and grass, then trended right for a while until we got to a big rocky slide that flows left, then we moved left to the last optional rap/down climb. Once you get off the ridge keep your eyes peeled for cairns if things start looking untraveled.

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