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c. Frog's Head - the Arch
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City Lights 

YDS: 5.8- French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 14 British: VS 4c

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 180'
Original:  YDS: 5.8- French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 14 British: VS 4c [details]
FA: Dick Williams, Art Gran, 1965
Page Views: 9,459
Submitted By: Ron Olsen on Feb 24, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (236)
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Tall Zack getting some pro on City Lights.


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, or walk off via the Uberfall Descent.


Standard Rack.

Photos of City Lights Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Access point for City Lights, etc.
BETA PHOTO: Access point for City Lights, etc.
Rock Climbing Photo: A look at P2 from the P1 belay.
A look at P2 from the P1 belay.
Rock Climbing Photo: I believe the climber is on the 2nd pitch of City ...
I believe the climber is on the 2nd pitch of City ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The City Lights crux on P1 is the thin crack throu...
The City Lights crux on P1 is the thin crack throu...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the runout face near the top of the first...
Climbing the runout face near the top of the first...

Comments on City Lights Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 26, 2017
By Adam Catalano
From: Albany, New York
Mar 15, 2006

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.
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Sep 29, 2007
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

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.
By Tim Schafstall
Apr 2, 2008

Agree with Adam - don't skip P2. Crux gear is bomber and knowing the secret beta makes the crux easier.
By eric larson
From: aurora, co
Jul 7, 2008

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!
By gblauer Blauer
From: Wayne, PA
Apr 18, 2009

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.
May 26, 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!
By slim
Jun 8, 2009
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c 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.
By reddirt
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...
By David Stowe
Jun 9, 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.
By John Peterson
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 for a picture of this highly questionable tactic.
By analogical
Apr 27, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

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.
By Jaysen Henderson
From: Bronx NY
Jul 1, 2011
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

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+
By K Baumgartner
Aug 27, 2012
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c 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.
By Logan Schiff
From: Brooklyn, NY
Apr 23, 2013

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.
By BrianRH
From: Jersey City, NJ
Jul 8, 2013

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.
By Josh Smethers
From: Malvern, pa
Apr 13, 2014
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

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!
By Mthoresz
Oct 27, 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.
By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Apr 21, 2015

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.
By losbill
Apr 22, 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!
By SethG
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.
By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Apr 24, 2015

I have unusually low ears, SethG, so it's not as hard as it sounds. [wink]
By Nick Hamilton
From: Philadelphia
Jun 26, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

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.
By Jon Po
From: Mahwah, NJ
Nov 1, 2015
rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

Another gunks route that is all about the hand jam!
By Gabe Cisneros
From: Baltimore, md
Jun 26, 2017

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?
By SethG
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.

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