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High Exposure

5.6, Trad, 250 ft, 2 pitches,  Avg: 3.8 from 1,149 votes
FA: Hans Kraus & Fritz Wiessner - 1941
New York > Gunks > Trapps > i. High E
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures 2019 Details

Description

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 15 minute walk from the Uberfall.

P1 (5.4, 180'): 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.

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 (5.6, 100'): 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!

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

Descend the corner/gully to 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.

Protection

Standard Rack.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Jake's first lead!
[Hide Photo] Jake's first lead!
Girl, Linda, dangling after falling off the crux of High Exposure. I was rapping off of "The Last Will Be First" and caught this moment on film. She finished the climb.
[Hide Photo] Girl, Linda, dangling after falling off the crux of High Exposure. I was rapping off of "The Last Will Be First" and caught this moment on film. She finished the climb.
Looking Down on the GT Ledge.  Climbers on High E.  Photo taken from Modern Times.
[Hide Photo] Looking Down on the GT Ledge. Climbers on High E. Photo taken from Modern Times.
A great final pitch
[Hide Photo] A great final pitch
Belayer on the GT ledge, taken on rappel from The Last Will Be First
[Hide Photo] Belayer on the GT ledge, taken on rappel from The Last Will Be First
High E looking even better after some digital photo editing.  From original by Mike fenice.
[Hide Photo] High E looking even better after some digital photo editing. From original by Mike fenice.
Unknown climber from Pennsylvania completing the first pitch.
[Hide Photo] Unknown climber from Pennsylvania completing the first pitch.
First pitch of High E.
[Hide Photo] First pitch of High E.
Looking down at TK after pulling the crux
[Hide Photo] Looking down at TK after pulling the crux
me second time up high e, took the sharp end this time.
[Hide Photo] me second time up high e, took the sharp end this time.
Who knows the story behind this sign?
[Hide Photo] Who knows the story behind this sign?
Climber preparing to start the exposed and exciting last pitch of High Exposure, one of the best 5.6 pitches on the planet.
[Hide Photo] Climber preparing to start the exposed and exciting last pitch of High Exposure, one of the best 5.6 pitches on the planet.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

GoBotRocker
Spfld, Ma
[Hide Comment] 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. Jul 4, 2006
Paul Shultz
Hudson, Ma
 
[Hide Comment] #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! Mar 8, 2009
JSH

 
[Hide Comment] 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. Sep 29, 2009
[Hide Comment] 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. Jan 17, 2010
doligo
  5.6
[Hide Comment] 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. May 17, 2010
[Hide Comment] 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. Nov 8, 2011
[Hide Comment] 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! Nov 4, 2012
[Hide Comment] 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. Feb 10, 2013
[Hide Comment] High Exposure was rated 5.7 in the 1964 guide. But it is 5.6. Sep 7, 2013
[Hide Comment] 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. Apr 24, 2014
Grant Gibson
Cincinnati, OH
 
[Hide Comment] 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. Apr 24, 2015
[Hide Comment] 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. Jul 15, 2015
[Hide Comment] I've seen on multiple occasions climbers clogging up the last pitch because of some unexpected difficulty that neither of them can communicate to each other. It usually leads to lots of ineffectual shouting until someone else can intervene as vocal relay, at least. Reference, probably the most infamous High Exposure shenanigans: rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/fo…;post=1900322;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25; Jul 28, 2016
[Hide Comment] How many tugs on the rope should the fallen second do to communicate "I've fallen off the move but if you could please lower me about 6 feet I'll give it another shot"? Jul 30, 2016
[Hide Comment] I have a special memory of my first time on High E. It was November, 1975. My partner Ron Sacks and I were relatively new climbers, so the legendary route was a big deal for us. This was to be Ron's first 5.6 lead. Being young (I was still a teenager)and feeling cocky, just getting on it made us feel like badasses. We were getting ready to lead out the second pitch - it was often done as three pitches then - and I was belaying from the corner. We heard a faint sound that gradually became louder and eventually revealed itself to be very heavy breathing (think Darth Vader) by what to our eyes looked like a very old, small man, rapidly approaching. Upon reaching us, he wanted to know if he could climb past rather than wait. We stammered out a yes, then watched as he, and eventually his partner sped by and disappeared above. We realized that the veteran climber was no other than Hans Kraus who, we later found out, was celebrating his 70th birthday by doing his all-time favorite climb. After we managed to shelve our ageism and soothe our slightly bruised egos, we continued the route and were blown away by the stunning third pitch. Wow! Mar 29, 2018
[Hide Comment] The classic picture of pulling "the move", can be (is) taken from the rap station line on the right. A good photo can easily be taken from the GT ledge, but does not have enough height for the "classic" pic. Mar 31, 2018
Suburban Roadside
Abovetraffic on Hudson
[Hide Comment] One can also start the last pitch from the outer edge of the big ledge. From the point of the ledge walk right until you are directly below "the Move" A short hop or a long reach to two big holds, then another step or two takes you to gear at the block that forms the key foot hold of "the Move". I call this "Hi -E the Hard Way", 5.9R. Jul 18, 2018
David K
New Paltz, NY
  5.6
[Hide Comment] I wanted to onsight lead this from the first time I heard of it, and got strong enough to do it just before the Peregrine closure. So I had to carefully avoid hearing any beta for many months. Finally I onsight lead it today. During the closure I got a lot stronger and have onsighted much harder climbs--I'm much prouder of my onsight of Moonlight or my send of Bolt Line for example. So it wasn't terribly hard, although the beta for the move took a bit of pondering. But it's a great feeling to achieve a goal you've wanted to achieve for a while and have it feel easy.

To avoid the communication issues, I took the advice of the climbers in front of us and belayed once I reached a ledge after the move and jug haul, instead of going all the way to the top to belay. There are two cracks with bomber pro there, and it lets you lean out over the edge to communicate with your follower(s) more easily. There's still a scramble after that, but my partner and I were both comfortable soloing it (5.1 or 5.2?).

The climb is worth the stars--great climbing and the crux pitch is G rated. I've heard some claims this is sandbagged but this is right in the middle of difficulty for 5.6s in the Gunks. (BETA ALERT) If you're clever there's even a no-hands rest directly before the crux (hint: the move isn't the crux). Aug 20, 2018
[Hide Comment] What a great, classic, Gunks route. Pulling that roof definitely made me feel alive! And every view you get there is great. Sep 11, 2018
James Elric
rockville
 
[Hide Comment] As great as they all say! It was worth starting at dawn. I sat on the ledge with a full layer of clouds below me like you see from a plane. It's an especially great route for sport climbers, like my partner and me. There were plenty of humbling cracks all over the Gunks to put us in our place, but we were very much at home and comfy on the 2nd pitch of High E.

Thanks Paul Shultz for the #4 cam suggestion - I didn't use it anywhere else all weekend but there's a bomber spot for it under the roof. If you're a bit nervous about "the move" a #4 with a runner ought to ease the mood.

I also brought small walkies based on some advice here. GREAT IDEA! We definitely heard all the classic strained shouting and miscommunications of groups that followed us. I'm now totally into the walkie plan - I used them all day even on basic multipitch climbs. Sep 17, 2018
Tom Kelley
  5.8
[Hide Comment] Possibly one of the best rock routes on the planet. If you are in the Gunks, do this route even if you climb WAY above the grade. It has no peer! Sep 30, 2018
Albi Eds
Brooklyn, NY
 
[Hide Comment] Is it a 5.6+? Probably not. Just breaking into the 5.6 trad lines I think this was moderately easy, maybe for short beta I can see it being tough to get through the move and after it.

Is it a classic? Totally!

Is it worth getting up super early to be the first one up? Absolutely. We were 2nd in line and the leader in front of us said he came up to the led with a peregrine overlooking the preserve with the sun rising from the east. It sounded epic AF.

You haven't climbed the Gunks till you did High E. Nov 5, 2018
[Hide Comment] Here is a 360 video for anyone that is wondering what High Exposure looks and feels like. On a phone- move your phone around or touch the screen to change the view, on a desktop, use the mouse to change the view, and with VR (virtual reality goggles) goto the youtube page and press the goggles icon to view in vr. youtube.com/watch?v=w9wjjt4… Mar 7, 2019