Chockstone Chimney

September 28, 2013

Approaching Chockstone Chimney, which ascend the right corner to the sky.

In 2012, Bryce and I attended a wonderful slideshow presented by Les Wilson covering his FA of the Chockstone Chimney back in 1962. Intrigued by his photos and FA tales, Bryce and I kept it in mind. Last weekend we headed up to the Ribbon Falls area to check out this forgotten classic. Chockstone Chimney climbs several pitches of various chimney types, with a few noteworthy tunnel-throughs, tree climbing within chimneys, and topping out on a large forested ledge, known as Sherwood Forest, that is rarely visited by climbers. The route was dirty, but interesting, and stayed fairly moderate throughout. The 5 or so rappels needed to get down were trickier than expected, and had obviously not been used in well over a year. The one new bolt had been damaged by rockfall and I could remove it with my hand, and in the end we used up all 30' of rapp webbing rebuilding anchors. It was a good day of adventurin'!

Chockstone Chimney.
Dirty scramble up to the start. (by Bryce)
Following P1. Climbing through that tree was very awkward. I drew blood and collected twigs in my clothes.
Old bolt marks the P1 belay ledge. (by Bryce B).
Sleepy Bryce atop P1. We left Berkeley at about 2:30 am, and we wouldn't make it back until about 2 am the next day!
Looking up P2. The rock was slick as snot, and the fist crack was perfect. "Like butter," as Bryce put it.
Bryce about to 'Tarzan' on the tree branch to finish the 5.8 bypass crux of the route on P2. I found a way to do a tentative step across into a short but unprotected OW, but the last pro is in suspect rock. The bypass was mostly a psychological crux, as it was committing, unclear whether it would go, and pro was tricky.
How does one make chimneys more fun? Add trees.
Middle and Lower Cathedral Rocks seen from the Chockstone Chimney Route.
The 5.5 tree lieback on P2. It was easier and more fun to climb the hanging tree branch than to try to do anything with the surrounding rock.
P2 climbing through roofs and trees.
Final bit of P2.
Starting out leading P3. Knee pads were a good idea for this pitch. (by Bryce)
Leading P3. This had a great long chimney and had some interesting chockstones.
Leading P3 up the squeeze.
Leading P3 in the squeeze. I tunneled through the upper gap.
Bryce leading up P4.
Bryce leading up P4.
Nearing the great tunnel through at the end of P4.
Bryce is belaying within the tunnel through on P4.
Mark entering the cave. (by Bryce B)
Looking up the P5 tunnel through.
Leading out on P5 to finish the tunnel through. (by Bryce B)
Escaping the tunnel through on P5.
Looking down the crappy dirty part of P5.
Bryce leading P6. This had a number of tricky 5.8 bits, and a lot of dangerous loose blocks, so this pitch took a while.
The neat little tunnel through at the end of P6 that deposits you into Sherwood Forest.
Escaping the tunnel-through into Sherwood Forest. (by Bryce B)
Cathedral Rocks and Leaning Tower from atop Chockstone Chimney.
Sherwood Forest and the Hidden Chimney above.
Climber on El Cap.
West Face of El Cap from Sherwood Forest.
Narrow brushy ledge along Sherwood Forest, looking for the rappels. We stayed roped up as we heard that there were a few exposed sections, which there were.
Cool spires in El Cap gully.
Cathedral Rocks and Leaning Tower from atop the Sherwood Forest rappels.
Mark starting down the second rappel. (by Bryce B)
Manky bolts backed up by a fixed nut on rappel #3. This bolted anchor was actually better than the hanging one on the prior rappel. The 'new' bolt on that one, I accidentally pulled out by hand - it looked like it had been damaged by rockfall. (by Bryce B)
Mark starting down the last of about 6 rappels. We had used the last of the 30' of webbing brought along to reinforce this anchor. (by Bryce B)