Type: Sport, 4 pitches
FA: unknown
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Shared By: Floyd Hayes on Feb 20, 2011 with updates from Brian Snider and 1 other
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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details


UPDATED ON 09-25-17: This route is a great introduction to multipitch climbing. The rock is surprisingly solid and the climb is very well protected for a 4-pitch 5.4 (original rating) sport climb. Be careful not to dislodge small rocks on the ledges, which could bounce down the route. Some bolts are very closely spaced (especially pitch 3). There are several runouts on very easy terrain (5.0 or easier).

Pitch 1: 5.4 (crux at start), 120', 7 bolts. After clipping the first bolt, aim up and left to the arete to find the second bolt; it's runout but very easy, like 5.0, and you can sling knobs if you feel uncomfortable. Attach a long runner to bolt 2 or you'll feel rope drag higher up. Afterward the bolts are closely spaced. Belay at bolts at the edge of a huge ledge.

Pitch 2: 5.3, 95' (or 80'), 6 bolts. If you wish, you can shift the belay to another set of bolts 15' from the edge of the ledge, at the base of pitch 2. Follow four closely spaced bolts up a groove and then traverse up and left past two more bolts, across the arete, to a bolted anchor with a small belay stance on the face.

Pitch 3: 5.3, 85', 3 bolts. Climb up and then left toward the first bolt, which is a few feet to the left of a big hole, then up past two more bolts to a bolted anchor on a large ledge.

Pitch 4: 5.2, 90', 4 bolts. Climb up past a bolt and then surprisingly far to the left to bolt 2, then up past two more bolts to a bolted anchor on a large ledge just below the summit. From the anchor, scramble 10' up a class 4 bulge to the summit; to be safe you can tie off about 20' of rope to the anchor.

The quickest and safest descent is rappelling the route, but if climbers are beneath you be very careful throwing down the rope and try not to knock small rocks off the ledges. A 70 m rope will get you down in four rappels. A 60 m rope will leave you stranded 15' above the ground at the first bolt of pitch 1, which should have a quick link on it for a fifth rappel. Two ropes will get you down in three rappels (pitch 4, pitches 2-3, and pitch 1).


The approach is 0.9 miles, takes about 35 minutes, and the trail is a bit tricky to follow and a bit steep in some places--when in doubt, look for sign posts. When you reach the shaded base of the Citadel keep going left uphill until you reach the foot of the northeast buttress, where there is a small clearing in the chaparral.


Quick draws for up to seven bolts per pitch. There are rap rings at each belay anchor.
Jason Ogasian
South Lake Tahoe
Jason Ogasian   South Lake Tahoe
Not sure why the Location Section says "No anchor at top" there are most definitely anchors at the top of all four pitches, each has rap rings. Other than that, some tips might be:
- Watch out for loose stuff on the ledge at the top of P1.
- The second bolt on P4 is impossible to see until you go up and over the hump on the left side of the route, it's farther than you'd think :)
- Be careful on the approach, still haven't gone and not had anyone in the group fall down at least once. Feb 27, 2013
Down climb is a bit tricky. All bolts are there. Saw a rattle snake on the way up. Hike over from the east side, long climb made it a fun day. Mar 17, 2013
Chris Bersbach
Arroyo Grande, CA
Chris Bersbach   Arroyo Grande, CA
Does anyone know what the 2013 raptor closure schedule on The Citadel? Apr 18, 2013
Floyd Hayes
Floyd Hayes  
A video of the climb is posted here. Sep 16, 2013
ToDoubleD Whitney
Aptos, CA
ToDoubleD Whitney   Aptos, CA
What an awesome climb! This was my first multi pitch I've lead entirely. It was for the most part easy except on pitch two I got a little lost and went to the right, when I should've gone left. (seems to be a theme with this route. If you're wondering where to go go left...) I ended up a couple feet above and to the right of the second, hanging, anchor. I really dislike run-out, but the distance between the first and second bolts on the first pitch wasn't bad for me, as the climbing is so easy.

The guide book says the Citadel is in the shade and therefore a good place to climb on hot days, and this is true, except for this one route. It was in the sun all day and I drank my entire 64oz bottle.

My partner and I rapped off with a single 70m rope, which just barely touched the ground on the first pitch. The quick link is still on the first bolt for those with a single 60m. Our two friends decided to walk off. They very much regretted that decision. Jul 28, 2014
John Buchenauer  
The quick link has been missing since Jan 10th. There's enough rings on Power Tools to get down to the ground with a 60m though. 50m or shortened 60m won't make it. Just be careful scrambling down to the top anchor, it's loose and a slip would probably be fatal. If you time it right, (start mid afternoon 2:30 maybe) you can climb the entire route in shade, catch a nice view from the top and rappel down entirely in the shade. Makes for a dark walk back to the car so bring lights.

Use a double runner on the 2nd bolt of P1 to eliminate drag.
Bolt counts/my est of length:
P1 - 7 - 35m
P2 - 6 - 30m
P3 - 3 (4 if you clip the anchor) - 25m
P4 - 4 (5 if you clip the anchor) - 28m

Anchors are all in good shape, rock can be a bit loose around them though. At the hanging belay I touched a rock and it crumbled into my hands. The rest of the rock is quite solid. I rated it 5.7 because the very first move is quite possibly that hard (small undercling/sidepull lieback thing), but it's right off the ground and could be probably be skipped with a dyno or boost. Rest of the route is 5.4 or easier. Definitely worth doing once and as a first multipitch for anyone wanting to learn, easy climbing, bolted, multiple rappels needed to get down, a hanging belay and a great view. May 3, 2015
Cals Chers
Albuquerque, NM
Cals Chers   Albuquerque, NM
Excellent route. Easy, moderately long, and enjoyable.

My 60m didn't make the last rappel, either (short about 12 feet). As of 13 June 2015 there was an 18cm quickdraw on the second bolt of the first pitch. Please leave it there! If you have a 60m or less you use it to lower the rest of the way to the ground. Jun 16, 2015
Don Taylor  
Pretty views, relaxed fun climb-this would be an excellent intro for teens new to climbing. Lots of loose, small rock at the top of pitch 3-be careful! Dec 2, 2016
Ben LC
The Road @ USA
Ben LC   The Road @ USA
Great climb for first timer lead on multi pitch. Climb is easy and straightforward. Make sure to come in from the West entrance (might be obvious to some but East to West are either an hour drive or a 2-3 hours hike). Pretty short approach (about 35min) and easy to find as it is the first climbing trail to the right when going towards Balconies Caves.

My only grip was that bolts were really spaces out on the first pitch between the 1st and second. It's possible I missed a bolt but looked for a while and couldn't find it. Could have decked pretty easily if the climb was not so easy but I could also see how some of the holds could break easily. Definitely recommend to put a sling on a horn (something like that: mountainproject.com/v/10886… ) to provide extra safety for the beginning. As other mentioned, 60 meters rope isn't enough to rappel down the first pitch but doing one extra length on the first bolt was pretty easy. Mar 20, 2017
ToDoubleD Whitney
Aptos, CA
ToDoubleD Whitney   Aptos, CA
Everytime I've done this climb I've debated weather or not it's worth clipping the first bolt. Even when your extend it and the second you end up with some rope drag, and it doesn't take long before you're far enough above the first you'll deck anyway. Yesterday I skipped the first and ran it out all the way to the second. Yep. That's now my preferred way of doing it, unless it's winter and moss covered. The climbing is just so easy and it adds a bit of spice. May 23, 2017
Michael Brewer
Carmel Valley, Ca
Michael Brewer   Carmel Valley, Ca
Climbed with "Pit-stop" on 4th of july. Perfect conditions. Approach trail was well marked. This was a great first multi pitch ascent for both of us. It was safe but had some great exposure making it feel like you were climbing a more difficult route. Easy to follow the route, the comments here were extremely helpful. I would highly recommend this for first timers to multi pitch climbing. Started at 8ish...didn't see any other climbers around. 25-30 min. hike from the parking lot to the base of the climbing. Some poison oak on the trail but not bad. Jul 5, 2017
Climbed this route yesterday and did 4 raps down w/ a 70m; a few observations:

- Bolts are very solid, especially for Pinnacles (only found 2 that were slightly spinning)
- P3 and P4 anchors have 3 bolts (and 2 have double rap rings)
- Great belay ledges for P2 and P4 (P3 has a hanging belay, you can probably skip it if you want, see below)
- We didn't do this, but P2 & P3 can probably be linked together going up
- 1x 70m rope got us off the last rap with room to spare (first bolt has a maillon on it if you only have a 60)

Super fun climb. Oct 15, 2017
Pavel K
San Francisco
Pavel K   San Francisco
Climbed 2018.02.10 w/ partner Emily. We were planning on Old Original, but the night before we found out about the raptor closures. This was a fun and stress-free alternative -- we could have done the climbing in our sleep, but the views were gorgeous and the line definitely gave us a taste for the Pinnacles route-finding experience.

Wish I'd read through the MP comments before attempting this descent. We stayed roped on the summit as we explored around for a possible walk-off descent route ("fourth class") for 30 minutes. If it was there, it was completely non-obvious to us. Maybe we were meant to walk off from a lower pitch somewhere? No idea, but we figured we'd just rap with the 70m, and had some extra webbing and rap rings to leave behind in case our rope didn't make it and we had to bail on a good bolt. As other folks have pointed out, 4 raps on a 70m will get you down, easily on the first three then with a foot of rope to spare on the last pitch (be sure to use the lower anchor near the ledge, not the one by the tree!)

Other notes -- P1 the second bolt was way left & up of the first, and spaced much further than any other bolts on this climb. TBH you are essentially free soloing 20ft of 5.4. I don't think most people will find it unnerving, but just noteworthy on an otherwise 100% extremely multi-pitch beginner friendly climb. Feb 12, 2018
Nathan Walter
San Francisco, CA
Nathan Walter   San Francisco, CA
Climbed this route twice recently for multi-pitch practice. Great fun and rock is generally secure for Pinnacles standards.

Some rap beta: Recently did this with a 60m rope and as others mentioned this is sufficient with the exception of P1 where a 70m is necessary. Rather than breaking P1 into 2 raps (We were sketched out by the condition of the bolt we would be rappelling off), we got to about 10-15' from the base of the route and down climbed which felt much more secure. I understand this might not be the favorable descent for all, but we did have legit concerns rapping off bolt 2 which has the quick link on it - bolt itself is rusty and is spinning, also saw some flex on it. Nov 19, 2018
Connor Dobson
Waterloo, ON
Connor Dobson   Waterloo, ON
This is my favourite route for taking non-climbers or people outdoors for their first time. The climbing is incredibly easy with great exposure and awesome views.

Usually you can get on early in the mornings and not see another soul.

I usually extend both the first and second bolt on P1 (second bolt use a double) but as others have said I'm considering starting to just skip the first bolt, although it does direct my followers nicely.

I would 100% link P2&P3 as that hanging belay can be pretty attrocious especially if you get stuck behind a slow party. The rope drag isn't that bad.

Wear a helmet around the base as it is incredibly easy to kick rocks off from the top of P1. Dec 19, 2018