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To Be Or Not To Be

5.12a R, Trad, 80 ft (24 m),  Avg: 3.6 from 45 votes
FA: Russ Clune (TR, 1983) Russ Raffa, Russ Clune and Lynn Hill (Lead, 1983)
New York > Gunks > Near Trapps > b. Gelsa to Moe (clos…
Access Issue: Tree Preservation and Rappelling Details


A fantastic face climb that keeps comin' at ya!

Lock-off moves on razor edges get you off the ground, after which you can expect technical and demanding climbing all the way to the anchor. This route demands stamina, fingers of steel and a penchant for cryptic sequences.


The route is 50 feet left of the Birdcage corner, on the face with the obvious face hold down low. Use the same bolted anchor as Farewell to Arms.


This route is easily and often TR'd (but see gear beta below in the comments).

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To be or not to be. It has R section but protectable.
[Hide Photo] To be or not to be. It has R section but protectable.

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Jon Clark
Philadelphia, PA
  5.12a X
[Hide Comment] As far as the pro goes ... The first two pieces are larger camalots. Unfortunately you have to pull the first crux before you can place the second piece. You are in the groundfall zone for these moves. If you blow it here it would be very ugly as you would deck from 30+ feet. The second crux is protected well enough by the second piece (although it would be a big fall). The last crux is well protected by smaller finger size gear. Oct 1, 2012
Will Stattman
Boston, MA
  5.12a X
[Hide Comment] I worked this on tr and didn't particularly enjoy it. Its a nice white face but my main beef is that many of the holds seem to be uncharacteristically sharp, particularly a recently broken hold at the top crux. It came off to me as a less fun version of the sting (especially if you want to lead it). The gear options are pretty marginal - if this route were at any other area there would be a bolt or two in the middle of the climb. Multiple chances to deck on 11+ climbing. Nov 13, 2012
Morgan Patterson
5.12a X
[Hide Comment] Where'd the 11d come from? I've never heard this referenced as 11d... May 16, 2013
gblauer Blauer
Wayne, PA
[Hide Comment] Hard climb. Sharp crimps, big moves, technique required. May 29, 2013
Simon Thompson
New Paltz, NY
  5.11+ R
[Hide Comment] Top roped this yesterday and couldn't quite get past what I believe is the upper crux. It is definitely the most difficult section, though the moves below are technical and small. The sharp and tiny holds force you to really use your feet well. Takes some very small gear... would be a tough lead. Congrats to those who have led this! Jun 4, 2013
[Hide Comment] I just led this ground up the other evening after rehearsing with the gear a couple times. I placed a piece of gear between the two good cams that would've kept me off the ground while doing the lower crux moves. Great route. For those looking to step it up a notch I recommend doing El Kabong to the right. A bomber orange quad anchor was put up in May 2015 Jul 26, 2015
Nicolas Falacci
Pasadena, CA
[Hide Comment] Defintely 12a with the direct finish -- which is how you really have to do it now. Surprised by all the comments about sharp holds ... from what I remember there a couple sharp edges above the "bear hug" opposing side-pulls section and then a couple sharp edges for the final crux ... which are the final moves.

Otherwise, I find this a fantastic route in terms of moves and quality of rock.

If you want to bump it up a littler harder from this route, try Slammin the Salmon ... a but under-rated. I found it just a letter grade or two easier than Survival. Crux is sustained ... final crux is a tweak monster!

El Kabong ... from what Russ Raffa indicated that's a bit more to the right ... like right of Transcon? Or is that Diva? I tried the TR just to the right of To Be and no one called it El Kabong. Either way, I didn't much are for the route just right of To Be. Oct 8, 2015
Danny Poceta
5.12a R
[Hide Comment] I think To Be is safer than its reputation but is still very exciting. I think I safely protected the first crux with an okay green C3 and a weird sideways nut. A great belay would keep you off the ground if you blew it on the "bear hug" move up high, and the only truly groundfall potential moves are the low .11ish moves after the bear hug. Then you get unlimited great finger sized gear for the final .12a direct finish crux. One of my favorite pitches ever, it's just so so good. Jan 30, 2019
[Hide Comment] Safer than its reputation - but ground fall from 5.11 moves a good distance above the ground . . . Apr 11, 2021