CHIMNEY ROCK 7,124 feet
North Idaho’s most imposing summit sits at the top of the Selkirk crest just north of Mount Roothaan. The rock is a vertical column of granite that provides a variety of technical rock climbing opportunities.
Map: USGS Mount Roothaan
Horton Ridge Lookout access:
0.0. Coolin ID-57 is the primary approach route into the Priest Lake section of the range. It is good paved until the west side of Priest Lake north of Nordman, where a number of Forest Service roads continue to the north.
9.5 miles north of Coolin and turn east onto Horton Ridge Road gives quick access to the Chimney Rock area. Road may be in poor but passable condition. Park at the Lookout site parking area.
Route: A trail leads to the ridge below Mount Roothaan, where you get the first sighting of the rock. The route from this point is cross country and involves either dropping off the ridge into the drainage below Chimney rock, or crossing the saddle north of Mount Roothaan and traversing the east side of the ridge to the saddle north of Chimney Rock.
Pack River Access. The Pack River drains a large area of the Selkirk Range between Harrison Peak in the north and Chimney Rock in the south.
0.0 FS-231, Pack River Road leaves US-2/US-95 at Walsh Lake and proceeds north for almost 20 miles to a point just south of Harrison Peak.
16.0 miles Turn west on FS-2653. Stay on the most worn route until it becomes too difficult to traverse.
18.5 miles Hike up the road for about .5 mile, cross Chimney Creek and then follow the old logging road up to the top of the ridge that divides the Chimney Creek and West Fork drainages. From this point it is an additional 2.0 miles to the crest on a path marked with blazes on the trees and rock cairns on the ridge crest into the cirque on a bench at the base of Mount Roothaan.
West Face Grade II, 5.3
This is the original and still most popular route. From the ridge line just south of the face, climb out onto the face on an easy ledge system. The route begins in the middle of the face at the highest point accessible by foot, where there is a fixed pin. From this point, the route veers up and slightly to the left, utilizing several fairly obvious cracks toward the western edge of the mountain where there is a broad step about 50 feet below the summit. The route to the step involves two moderate-length pitches where the exposure is much more noticeable than the degree of difficulty. The middle belay point is a ver small ledge two thirds of the way up. Some climbers use a double rope to avoid the intermediate belay point. From the broad step, the route steps to the north around a bulging rock and finishes ina n easy chimney.
Descent. The descent is via a double rope rappel from the broad step.
Chimney Rock, Priest Lake, Idaho, June 14, 1964
Friday night June 14th, saw Kim and Dave Deane, Gerry Brown, and Doug Wellock drive to a campground on the north end of Priest Lake. Next morning we worked our way ten miles up a logging road. This involved digging a road over one mudslide and cutting out four windfalls with a power saw. Then from the end of the road at the creek we bushwhacked for three hours through fallen trees and swarms of mosquitoes. This brought us to a collapsed forestry lookout, which still had an intact roof. Doug and Dave stayed here as Kim and Gerry walked on snow along a ridge to Chimney Rock. They snooped around, and then returned and we sacked out.
Early Sunday morning we walked an easy 45 minutes to the base. The rock stands on a ridge, there being 250 feet height on the west side and 800 feet of sheer face on the east side. Needless to say we 7 started up the west side, with Kim leading with Gerry, and Dave and Doug on the other rope. A few obstacles were passed but a rough short gully slowed things. Here Kim with a massive show of guts and endurance placed eight pitons and by various pendulums got up. Gerry and Doug followed with a little trouble and Dave retrieved the pitons with a little direct aid. The rest of the climb was up an exposed ridge of large boulders.
We rested on top sitting in a thin mist; the only cloud for miles. It cleared up just as we left but that didn’t help the pictures. Two 110-foot rappels took us quickly down and we retreated to our camp by two o’clock.
On hiking out we found a road starting near the lookout which followed an easy grade right back to the cars. It arrives at the cars from the opposite direction from Chimney Rock but is quite a bit easier traveling than the bushwhacking of the previous day.
We had an easy drive out and home, the total drive being five hours from Trail to the end of the road. Kim and Dave Deane, Gerry Brown, and Doug Wellock.