Ellingwood Chimney

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About

Summary

Robert Ellingwood was one of the most important climbers in the 20th century, so it’s only fitting to find a route in the storied South Platte area named after him. Ellingwood Chimney (now a 5.8), on the west face of Bisop Rock, was considered one of the most difficult climbs in the country when Robert Ellingwood climbed it in 1924.

Written by

Deb Acord

Distance

0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

6.5 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

0 days

Half day or more

Seasonality

Spring, Summer, and Fall

Some of the south-facing routes can be climbed year round.

Dog Friendly

Yes

Fees Permits

No

Review

Intro

Robert Ellingwood was one of the most important climbers in the 20th century, so it’s only fitting to find a route in the storied South Platte area named after him. Ellingwood Chimney (now a 5.8), on the west face of Bisop Rock, was considered one of the most difficult climbs in the country when Ellingwood climbed it in 1924. 

What Makes It Great

According to local climbing guru Stewart Green, Ellingwood worked his way up cracks and a chimney to the tower summit. It wasn’t his first feat in the mountaineering and climbing world – in 1916, he organized a party to tackle the unclimbed 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, and with a party that included Eleanor Davis Erhman, he had first ascents on Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle and Kit Carson. Ellingwood climbed throughout Colorado, but he was particularly taken with the South Platte’s lumpy domes, cliffs and cracks. 

The size of this climbing area – sprawling over hundreds of square miles - is a bit overwhelming, but that’s also what makes it irresistible. The Dome is known for slab routes, according to Green, including Topographic Oceans (5.10b). The Bishop and The Dome are found on ridges east of the tiny town of Buffalo Creek. 

Who is Going to Love It

It’s hard to find a climber who doesn’t like the variety found in the South Platte area. The Bishop is named for its shape, which some say resembles a bishop holding a bible to his chest. Bishop Rock is just north of The Bishop. The south and west faces feature massive cliffs; the east face is gentler. Along with Ellingwood Chimney, other classic routes include Bishop Offwidth, 5.11a; Craftwork, 5.11c; and Bishop Crack, 5.12c.

This area is close to another popular climbing area, Cathedral Spires, a park in the Jefferson County parks system. This climbing area features cracks, bullet granite and slabs. Cathedral Spires is subject to seasonal closures to protect nesting raptors; consult a parks guide about restrictions (which are usually from March 1-July 31). Cathedral Spires features multi-pitch traditional crack climbing according to the Mountain Project; with Center Route on Cynical Pinnacle considered by many to be the best three pitch 5.9 climb in the state of Colorado.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The Bishop and Dome Rock near the town of Buffalo Creek. From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park; turn right and head north on Colorado Highway 67. At Deckers, turn left onto Colorado Road 126 to the town of Buffalo Creek.

Consult a climbing guide for directions from Buffalo Creek to the climbing area – Stewart Green’s “Rock Climbing Colorado, 2nd: A Guide to More Than 1,800 Routes” is a good reference.

Some of the climbs in the South Platte area (especially those that face south) can be done year-round; others are weather dependent because of conditions on the rocks themselves, or on roads leading to access areas.

Location

Ellingwood Chimney

Buffalo Creek, CO,
38.873365, -104.8806

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