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High Exposure 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 250'
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Hans Kraus & Fritz Wiessner - 1941
Page Views: 110,317
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Feb 21, 2006  with updates from Dan Africk

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (771)
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Unknown climber from Pennsylvania completing the f...


High Exposure. The climbing itself is flawless, but when one considers that the FA was done by pioneers Hans Kraus and Fritz Wiessner in 1941, it's even more incredible! The name, of course, is completely appropriate for this must-do Gunks mega-classic.

The High E buttress is an obvious right-facing arete that is visible from the drive in from New Paltz. It is located about halfway along the base of the Trapps, right of the MF area and left of Bonnie's Roof. The High E access trail is about a 17-min. walk from the Uberfall, and a 13-min. walk from where the East Trapps Connector Trail meets the carriage road.

P1: Begin the climb in a chimney/stemming corner left of the arete. Climb up this corner, only until it is possible to traverse up and right across the face, then climb up the face to a fantastic, spacious triangular belay ledge (this is the GT ledge) right on the arete below a large roof. Belay from natural gear or sling the huge boulder on the ledge. 5.4, 180'.

This pitch was originally split into two by belaying in the corner before heading out onto the face, but it can be easily combined into one with careful rope management.

P2: This is the money pitch, and is just about as exciting as 5.6... or 5.7 or 5.8 for that matter... can be. Climb up from the ledge (it's easiest to begin at the left side) and traverse right to the obvious place to turn the corner and make "The Move" to pull the roof - the exposure is immediate and the rock is steep! Continue up the face past gear, jugs, and fixed pins, trending left back towards the arete, until you top out. Exhilarating! 5.6, 100'.

Communication between the clifftop and the GT is notoriously difficult here, so plan accordingly.

Descend climber's right from three bolted rap stations with one rope.

Also consider the Directissima variation instead of doing the original first pitch. Done this way, the climb checks in at 5.9, but you get what you pay for -- a first pitch that rivals the second in terms of quality.


Standard Rack.

Photos of High Exposure Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Jake's first lead!
Jake's first lead!
Rock Climbing Photo: Girl, Linda, dangling after falling off the crux o...
Girl, Linda, dangling after falling off the crux o...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking Down on the GT Ledge.  Climbers on High E....
Looking Down on the GT Ledge. Climbers on High E....
Rock Climbing Photo: A great final pitch
A great final pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber preparing to start the exposed and excitin...
Climber preparing to start the exposed and excitin...
Rock Climbing Photo: High E looking even better after some digital phot...
High E looking even better after some digital phot...
Rock Climbing Photo: me second time up high e, took the sharp end this ...
me second time up high e, took the sharp end this ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at TK after pulling the crux
Looking down at TK after pulling the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: First pitch of High E.
First pitch of High E.
Rock Climbing Photo: Who knows the story behind this sign?
Who knows the story behind this sign?
Rock Climbing Photo: Susan pulling the crux
Susan pulling the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Dec 29th, 2014. 35 degrees out.  Photo credit: Jor...
Dec 29th, 2014. 35 degrees out. Photo credit: Jor...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bringing up his second.
Bringing up his second.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber takes the long whip on High E when she mis...
Climber takes the long whip on High E when she mis...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the second pitch.  Which way should I go?...
Climbing the second pitch. Which way should I go?...
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo by Greg Maka.
Photo by Greg Maka.
Rock Climbing Photo: High E crux
High E crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Wider view of climbers on first (or optional secon...
Wider view of climbers on first (or optional secon...
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading High E, photo by Lance Levine
Leading High E, photo by Lance Levine
Rock Climbing Photo: My first time leading the final pitch.
My first time leading the final pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the final pitch.
Climbing the final pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: High E never looked so good.
High E never looked so good.
Rock Climbing Photo: Taliah coming over the top
Taliah coming over the top
Rock Climbing Photo: the frozen topout during a winter ascent
the frozen topout during a winter ascent

Show All 70 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on High Exposure Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 24, 2016
By GoBotRocker
From: Spfld, Ma
Jul 4, 2006

A great top pitch. If you have solid leading skills, don't talk yourself out of leading it. Yes it can be intimidating the 1st or 5th time pulling throught the crux from under the roof to the side wall. Oh well, that's Gunks 5.6 and this climb has bomber hand holds all the way up the 3rd pitch, great gear and enough air to keep you talking/smilling/skitzing and bragging about that pitch forever...

Once you pull around the roof and are onto THE WALL don't forget to breathe and smile.

The bad thing about the 3rd pitch is it's not 500' long.
By Joe M
From: Beckley, wv
Sep 2, 2007
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Such a great climb! Definitely one of my all time favorites! The move out onto the High E wall is such a thrill and the rest of the pitch is just super fun! Can't wait to do it again!
By Ladd
Oct 29, 2007
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Did this once Saturday night by headlamp, then again last night (sunday) by headlamp, this climb is incredibly classic, no matter the cicumstances of the ascent.

Check out the article in Climbing
By adrenalated
From: Denver, CO
Jun 15, 2008

The first 2 pitches (as described by Williams) can easily be linked into 1, but you will likely have significant rope drag towards the end, even with long runners.

I really wish I could give this route 4 stars, but I can't. Let's be honest, it's overrated. The final pitch from the GT Ledge to the top is totally worth the hype; it's awesome. But the first pitch sucks balls, and that's all there is to it.
By Paul Shultz
From: Hudson, Ma
Mar 8, 2009

#4 Camalot recommended for going through the roof. a #3 will work, but a 4 is much better. One of the best routes I've ever done anywhere. You're surprised how good the holds are on the second pitch and they just keep going!
Sep 29, 2009

It should also be noted - sling whatever piece you place before The Move long; legend tells a story of a climber whose rope was chopped when he fell above the move, and his rope was pulled across the sharp lip of the roof. The legend says that he fell to the ground (!) but suffered only a broken ankle.
By Jay Harrison
Jan 17, 2010

This is also a great route for Moonlit climbing. The first pitch is rough - maybe use a headlamp for it, but after that, moonlight shines on the rock you're heading for and your shadow falls behind you on both 2nd and 3rd pitches. There's a bit of uncertainty whilst crawling under the big roof toward the crux, but after pulling around, it's all silvery holds and out-of-the-way shadows to the top.
By doligo
May 17, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Be careful not follow to the corner all they way up on P1 (which is slimy and wet) as many leaders tend to do. You can also do the P1 of Modern Times if you want to skip the forgettable 5.4 climbing and keep the grade consistent.

After you top out on P2, extend your anchor to the lip of the buttress above the V-notch crack so you can see and hear your second.
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Oct 13, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Great route! I'd led the final pitch years ago as part of Directissima, but this was my first time on the lower section up to the GT ledge. I didn't link the first two pitches, and with a less-experienced follower, I was glad I didn't. I thought the climbing up to the ledge was fun; not great like the last pitch, but it certainly didn't suck!
By AWinters
From: NH
Oct 20, 2010

my friend convinced me to take her up this barefoot, leading both pitches and having never been on it. it made for a memorable climb.
By Benjamin Chapman
From: Small Town, USA
Nov 3, 2011

Anywhere else on the planet this pitch would be rated 5.9 The climbing at the Gunks is awesome, but the ratings are ridiculously screwed up.
By SethG
Nov 4, 2011

5.9? I like to think Gunks ratings are sandbagged, but they aren't THAT sandbagged. High E is steep but the holds are great.
By Mike McLean
Nov 4, 2011

I'll second Seth's comment. This is NOT a 5.9.

I'm both chicken and weak, and I pulled it off. 5.6+
By marcin
Nov 8, 2011

Very nice 5.6. Pulling throught the crux from under the roof is incredible. We used #4 cam before we went for the crux. After that move holds are great. Don't forget to turn around and take a look at the view. Rating depends on your skills. Two days ago the guy didn't make through the crux and was dingling for nearly an hour screaming to his belayer at the top of the last pitch. So make sure you extend your anchor to the edge so you can hear your second. And as a climber, go over some self-rescue techiques. You never know when you might need them. Afterall this climb is 5.6.
By S. Neoh
Nov 12, 2011

Even if this climb were at a 'modern' crag, it would not be graded as high as 5.9. Does anyone think the FA party 70 years ago set out to sandbag future generations? The Gunks is what it is; historic, stiffly graded, and crowded on most days. Certainly calls for a different mindset and one ought to adjust one's expectations accordingly.

This was my first Gunks lead (during my 1st visit), I led the last pitch as a thunder shower rolled through; made for a memorable outing!
By Sarah K
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 19, 2012

This was my first climb/lead in the Gunks and it was a great introduction!
Some people have mentioned that it can be hard to hear your second at the top of the route and recommended extending your belay to the edge. We had some mild wind, probably around 10 mph, and I couldn't hear my second from the edge at all while he was below the roof. Only after lowering myself about 20 feet down the face of the last pitch were we able to communicate.
By Matt Baer
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 19, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Busy Climb but well worth it! I got all the way up to the party ledge with a 60m rope. The second pitch is amazing after you pull the heady crux and get some exposure!!!
By gblauer
From: Wayne, PA
Jun 21, 2012

Where in the world can you find a 6 better than this? P1/2 are blah and boring for me.
By chipacles
Aug 24, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

SUPER AWESOME ROUTE!!! Does it get better than this at 5.6??? Superb!
By Stich
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 18, 2012

The little horizontal slot by your foot stepping out from P1 has two groves in it where cams were dragged out by falling leaders that lost their nerve. That looked like the best pro option. Just keep your head together and step out there. If your hands start shaking, just relax and find the buckets and feet!
By Gunkiemike
Sep 21, 2012

Sorry to burst your bubble Stitch, but grooves in horizontals are scars from years of angle piton use. Cam lobes won't groove Gunks stone.
By Joe Grossmann
Nov 4, 2012

Just go there and climb it. Do NOT ask anybody for the beta before! This way you'll remember doing "The Move" for the first time for the rest of your life! First time I followed. Though I was leading it the second time, it was only half as exciting as the first time. Still an awesome climb!
P1 is not that great. If you can do 5.9s, climb Directissima to the GT ledge and then go up the High-E pitch. This will make a memorable climb for sure!
By Dana Bartlett
From: CT
Feb 10, 2013

legend tells a story of a climber whose rope was chopped when he fell above the move, and his rope was pulled across the sharp lip of the roof. The legend says that he fell to the ground (!) but suffered only a broken ankle.

Definitely not a legend. Early, mid '80s? Anyway, free fall to the ground from just above the lip, crashing through the trees saved his life. I don't know the extent of his injuries, but I believe they were not particularly serious and far less than would be expected.
By ARMoss
Jul 10, 2013
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I get that routes at the Gunks are a bit sandbagged, but the only thing that calling the last pitch of this 5.6 does is create traffic jams and put people in danger. I think it's a Gunks 5.7, which means it's a 5.8 anywhere else.
By Dana Bartlett
From: CT
Sep 7, 2013

High Exposure was rated 5.7 in the 1964 guide. But it is 5.6.
By applewood
From: Tonasket, WA
Oct 31, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Of course this is THE classic. (I still vividly remember my ascent in Oct of '07, we had the cliff to ourselves, the sun had already set... by the end I was holding on with my elbows. Great stuff...)

And it redefined my notion of 5.6. It ain't sandbagging, it's just setting the standard, and apparently everything that came later (and further west) just gets softer and softer.
By Kurtz
Nov 12, 2013

Leaders: Be careful of the loose gravel on edge of the GT.
Seconds: Wear a helmet and belay very close to the rock to avoid falling stones.

One double-rope rappel with 60m ropes just barely reaches the ground. Huge time saver. Knot the ends!
By oldfattradguuy
Apr 24, 2014

Why is there no mention of the keg parties held on the belay ledge in the early 80's?.

Also, the story about the ground fall is true.
By christopher adams
Jun 5, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I don't see what the fuss is about- the third pitch is the only one worth climbing (much better if you get here via one of the issima routes) and 'the move' can be done as a reach up into a jug from sitting on your rear for a no fear, no commitment move.
By Mike McLean
Jun 5, 2014

Well... Most routes can be aided as well. I doubt that something like th W-G ridge or Thin Air would be considered classics if they were done in that style. Doing exposed moves while sitting on your butt seems to be the same. Use the style you want, but don't diminish the route if you do it in bad form or style.

Also keep in mind that it's classic for the grade. Exposed and vertical like very few sixes.
By WillamR
Aug 8, 2014

I consider myself a solid Gunks 5.6 leader. I'm on the way out of the grade, and I just led High E this Monday.

I thought the moves were far easier than other 5.6's without the infamous "+" (wisecrack, wrist, disneyland to name a few). I wish I had done this climb when I was a little newer at the grade, so I could have gotten the full on experience, but I thought it was a nice little pitch with one or two 5.6 moves.
By omcmahon
From: Nashua, NH
Sep 12, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I did this today, on a Friday, and it wasn't too busy. I made the mistake of following the corner all the way to the GT ledge and belayed the second from there on gear. Then we traversed on belay to the proper belay station for the 2nd pitch. We teamed up with another group and tied our 70m to their 75m rope and made the rappel in one shot.

All I can say is this is the most exciting 5.6 I've climbed! It really is 5.6, but it's unlike any other 5.6 I know of.
By Grant Gibson
From: Cincinnati, OH
Apr 24, 2015

Fun route. If you've never climbed a route with exposure then sure you might be a little nervous making the "move" on lead and finishing the rest of the second pitch. Since I was the "guide" and had to manage 3 ropes and three followers on the climb the most entertaining part of the climb was running into "Ben" the local soloist and hearing him talk about soloing. Let me tell you, good times. Not sure if it was the wind or what but his hair looked like he had stuck his finger in a light socket. Complete respect for him.
By Dan Africk
From: Brooklyn, New York
Jul 6, 2015
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

I finally led this for the first time on July 4th, at night! The darkness definitely helps with the exposure! I ended up doing the 'sit on your butt' method, which felt like I only pulled have the move before getting into a very secure rest spot. After the move it remains steep, but jugs and protection abound after that, including a solid looking piton shortly after the move.

Bringing large gear- #4 and/or #5 camalots- to protect the move is a good idea and will make you feel better, though some people manage with just a #3. A few double-length slings for your gear before the move is key to minimize rope drag.

Communication from the ledge to the top is easy, as long as you build an anchor at the top and extend the belay to the edge. The best spot for the anchor in my opinion involved threading a cordelette through a crack in very solid rock (or a couple #2 cams would work).

Slinging the boulder on the ledge for your anchor to bring up your followers is tricky, even with a long cordelette. I didn't quite figure it out so I ended up building a gear anchor. You may need to untie your cordelette and use a single strand to belay off the boulder.
By Dan Africk
From: Brooklyn, New York
Jul 6, 2015
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Linking the first two pitches was longer than I expected. Even running it out, and carrying a lot of gear, I ran out of slings by the end. Bring lots of trad draws including double-length slings, and doubles or even triples of cams in the .4 - #1 size would be a good idea

For the anchor, Either bring very long (or two) cordelettes for the boulder, or save a .1 x4 and #1 c4 cam, plus a small nut, for a gear anchor.
By Cres Simpson
From: Birmingham, AL
Jul 7, 2015
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Great route. I thought P1 was better than billed, albeit wet at times - fun stemming. P2 is obviously classic.

It felt very true to 5.6 for me and definitely easier than the Shockley's roof. I think the exposure and verticality could definitely get to a new leader, but it's not any harder than 5.6 (even to a non-Gunks climber).
By Mongo
Jul 15, 2015

High-E, legendary parties in the 70's and 80's. I climbed it several times. it is the elusive 5.6. Every ascent was done with nuts, well before SLCD's.
I was there the day the climber fell, scary times until word of the extent of the injuries were spread around.
My most memorable time on it was with my girl friend and two of her college room mates, they decided to soak up some sun by topless sunbathing on the GT ledge... a true High Exposure... Note to self: I got to find those pictures.
By Seth Hogan
From: Frisco, Co
Aug 11, 2015

Directisima into the last pitch of High Exposure. Good.
By thebmags
Oct 19, 2015

One of the few things in life that exceeds expectations, absolutely incredible
By Kurt G.
From: Reading, PA
Dec 2, 2015

It was my friend's goal to lead the second "money" pitch so I led the first. I thought this pitch was a lot better than people give it credit for. I found it really tests your route finding and gear placement skills to keep rope drag down (if you're combining pitches) which I failed miserably at but I still found it to be a fun pitch.

As for the second pitch if you haven't done it yet don't get psyched out of climbing it, trust me. It's not as scary as everyone makes it out to be. Don't get me wrong, it's a heady move but it wasn't nearly as intimidating as I'd built it up to be from reading all the reviews. And making the "move" and climbing the face of the second pitch is amazing, a must do! Overall an awesome climb!
By shanesshin
Mar 24, 2016

This climb should be called "high lines" for the people that are willing to wait for hours to get on it, completely ignoring the other great climbs in the vicinity. I think the climb is only ok, definitely over-rated though. The first and second pitch are mediocre and just get you up to the gt ledge. The famous 3rd pitch has an awkward traverse under the big roof. Then you pull the roof and have a lot of air under your feet! Don't get me wrong this climb is worth doing and is in fact very exposed. However if I were to rate it based on the quality of the moves alone it would be 2 stars.

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