Type: Trad, 180 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Dick Williams, Art Gran, 1965
Page Views: 10,512 total · 67/month
Shared By: Ron Olsen on Feb 23, 2006
Admins: JSH

You & This Route

266 Opinions

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City Lights is one of many moderate classics on this section of the cliff: Son of Easy O(5.8), Frog's Head (5.6), Maria (5.6+), Baby (5.6), and Pas de Deux (5.8) are all close by. You could spend the whole day climbing in this area, moving from one classic to the next.

With a short approach and several bolted anchors, this area is very popular. Fortunately, with so many great routes, at least one should be free to climb.

From the Uberfall, walk about 2.5 minutes down the carriage road, past the big corner and roof of Matinee, to a huge boulder just below the cliff. Take the marked access trail just below the striking, widening crack of Baby, and angle up right to the cliff. This will take you to the base of the cliff near City Lights and Frog's Head.

Spot a large oak tree right next to the cliff; City Lights starts behind the tree, at a thin crack with a triangular pod about 20' up.

P1: Climb the thin crack and make a slippery move into the pod on polished rock (crux). Continue to a ledge, move left and climb a right-facing flake. Continue up the face, trending left, following the easiest line (or traverse right about 20', then head upwards, at a similar grade and protection). Aim for a small overhang to a small ledge and a 2-bolt anchor. 5.8-, 80'.

P2: Move left and climb a steep right-facing corner to its top. Continue up the face above to a 2-bolt anchor on a good ledge. 5.7, 90'.

Descend via two raps with a 60m rope.


Standard Rack.


Adam Catalano
Albany, New York
Adam Catalano   Albany, New York
Glad to see this graded up from the previous 5.7. The triangles move down low is tricky, the rest is just awesome climbing all the way up to the top. Don't miss out on the second pitch. Mar 15, 2006
Decatur, GA
saxfiend   Decatur, GA  
The one hard move at the start is the only real reason to give this a 5.8 rating, but it's still a cool climb all the way. Sep 29, 2007
Agree with Adam - don't skip P2. Crux gear is bomber and knowing the secret beta makes the crux easier. Apr 2, 2008
eric larson
aurora, co
eric larson   aurora, co
Climbed p2 straight up from the anchors instead of out left.. was a bit dirty, but i felt it kept the grade 7 or 8- with decent gear. Pitch 1 was fun, and super exciting as the bottom crux was sopping wet! Jul 7, 2008
gblauer Blauer
Wayne, PA
gblauer Blauer   Wayne, PA
Great climb, low crux is easy for me. Not sure I like the middle third run out. It's easy climbing, but, I do like my gear.

After leading this several times, I realize that the run out is on very easy terrain. I can usually find a C3 placement somewhere along the way. I really enjoy both pitches of this climb. P2 has a really, nice, exposed move as you transfer from the corner to the face above. Apr 18, 2009

Traversing right ~20' after you've cleared the steeper stuff on P1 is preferable if there's another party on Pas de Deux, since the left finish overlaps with that route.

My 'secret' way of doing The Move on P1 involves an elbow jam / lockoff. It's bomber once you've got it! May 26, 2009

  5.8- PG13
  5.8- PG13
tricky start and some routefinding on the second pitch. did it all in one pitch, a good exciting pitch for the grade. maybe not the best for someone breaking into the grade, or inexperienced trad climber. Jun 8, 2009
So is stemming the tree at the start considered off route : P
I'm trying to envision the FA's doing the start in sneakers... Jun 8, 2009
Why would you stem the tree. There are good holds. The move through the pod can be done at 5.7 or also done to be made much harder if you climb straight up or to the right. Staying a hair to the left makes this 5.7. Jun 9, 2009
The legality of tree stemming was always a hot topic at GunksFest (a now defunct climbing event that used to happen every Dec 26th). See tradgirl.com/gunks/paulina.htm for a picture of this highly questionable tactic. Jun 9, 2009
The move at the pod isn't hard, though you can make it hard. I jam and hand-foot match, and it's more like 5.5, but I'm more flexible than most. There's some thin face climbing above, I would give this route a PG.

One thing to note is that the guidebooks do the 2nd pitch differently. Williams has City Lights and Pas de Deux crossing, Swain straights them out - the one stays left, the other stays right for both pitches. Except for PdD's first pitch, it's all 5.6-5.7, so just do whatever doesn't have someone already on it. Apr 27, 2010
Jaysen Henderson
Brooklyn NY
Jaysen Henderson   Brooklyn NY
great climb but the pro on the second half had me taking a little extra care of my foot holds. i'm with the 5.7+ Jul 1, 2011
K Baumgartner
  5.8 PG13
K Baumgartner  
  5.8 PG13
One move wonder that had me perplexed until I found a money hand jam. Definitely run out at the top, but it's pretty easy climbing. Aug 27, 2012
Logan Schiff
Brooklyn, NY
Logan Schiff   Brooklyn, NY
Crux is pretty weird the first time but gear is good. Runout in middle section not too enjoyable but the second pitch was really nice. Worth doing but not as classic as some of the other routes on this wall. Apr 23, 2013
Jersey City, NJ
BrianRH   Jersey City, NJ
Don't get cocky and start to run it out too early, as the options for gear for the last 25 -30 feet of pitch 1 range from poor to nonexistent. There's only one 5.8 move that protects easily. Jul 8, 2013
Josh Smethers
Malvern, pa
Josh Smethers   Malvern, pa
This is a good climb with a bit of everything, well protected crux moves early on, some technical climbing, and a bit of runout. I finally made that crux move in the beginning! Apr 13, 2014
I really enjoyed this, though I only did the first pitch - will be back to do the second for sure. I found the move at the bottom hard at first, but agree with others that if you're out left enough, it becomes be easier. I think the next time I won't find it as hard for sure. I grabbed the little crimpers out left and did a huge step with my right foot and jammed it in there. At 5'4" it was a high step for me, but well within reason. I loved this route. Oct 27, 2014
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
The pod move is ridiculous for the grade. If you haven't climbed at the Gunks much, you will be stymied by both the rating and the move itself. As I was trying to second the pitch there was a crowd of people all shouting some variation of "Put your left foot up by your ear," which sounded goofy until I realized that you actually have to do that. A classic sandbag. The second pitch is wonderful---better than the first pitch, I think. Apr 21, 2015
Peter lol at your comment. Just a week ago Sunday I once again thoroughly embarrassed myself at the pod and had to finally aid through it. In retrospect I think I may now have a way to get through it. Of course I have said that half a dozen times in the past and proved myself wrong! Apr 22, 2015
With all of this "easier to the left" talk I may have to try it that way some time. I've always thought the move I worked out on the right was reasonable.... and it doesn't require you to put your toe in your ear. Apr 22, 2015
Peter Lewis
Bridgton, ME
Peter Lewis   Bridgton, ME
I have unusually low ears, SethG, so it's not as hard as it sounds. [wink] Apr 24, 2015
Nick Hamilton
Nick Hamilton   Philadelphia
Lead this for the first time a few days ago, and I definitely had my foot in my ear. A beautiful route on a beautiful part of the cliff. Jun 26, 2015
Jon Po
Mahwah, NJ
Jon Po   Mahwah, NJ
Another gunks route that is all about the hand jam! Nov 1, 2015
Gabe Cisneros
Baltimore, md
Gabe Cisneros   Baltimore, md
There is a chalk line that angles right towards the second pitch of frogs head. Is that a variation or a way to finish at frogs head anchors? Jun 26, 2017
Gabe if you're talking about just after the small overhang on P1, if you trend right instead of left and head for the right side of the pedestal just before the bolt anchors, that's Patty Duke, which starts to the left of City Lights but crosses it. Jun 26, 2017
David Kerkeslager
New Paltz, NY
David Kerkeslager   New Paltz, NY
The route itself is three stars, but if you do it on a crowded day, expect to deduct two star's worth of enjoyment due to ropes being dropped on you and unintended macrame on overcrowded belay ledges. It's easy to get to the top rap anchors from surrounding climbs, so too many people rap right through the route with zero consideration for climbers. Conscientious climbers walk off to the Uberfall descent instead of rapping. May 27, 2018