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North Twin Sister
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Balcony Route, The T 
Lowe Route, The T 
Safecracker S 
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The Balcony Route 

YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b PG13

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 330'
Original:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b PG13 [details]
FA: Tom Whittiker et al. circa 1969
Page Views: 257
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 8, 2014

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The Twin Sisters formations are off-limits to climbing. MORE INFO >>>


Note: This description is for the historical record only. All information contained within is likely outdated and inaccurate. Many, if not all, bolts have been removed from the Twin Sisters formations and climbing on them is illegal. Do not attempt to climb these routes for your own safety and compliance with the law!

This long, lost adventure route is undoubtedly a City classic that weaves a very unlikely path through natural features and threatening roof systems at a reasonably moderate grade. Surely covered in lichen thanks to lack of traffic, climbers, hikers, and vehicle-bound gawkers alike will gaze to or from this climb and feel as if they have been transported back in time to the late 1800's... Is that a wagon train west-bound on the California Trail? Alas no, it is an SUV speeding along the dirt road. Are those settlers in search of land, fortune, and fresh beginnings? Alas, no, those are telephone poles and grazing cattle. What is that glint high up on the wall above you? Could it be an exposed vein of gold? One thing's for sure: It's definitely not a bolt.

P1 (5.9, 130'): Scramble (5.7?) up boulders to gain a belay beneath the obvious, clean handcrack just left of a pillar on the easternmost buttress of the formation. Follow this crack until it peters out beneath a bulge and traverse right underneath this bulge to gain a second, hidden crack system. An ancient bolt once and perhaps still does "protect" this thin traverse. Continue more easily to a belay at a spike atop the pillar. There was once a bolted anchor here but rumor has it it's been removed.

P2 (5.10w is for weird, 80'): It would be real bummer about that missing bolted anchor because this pitch traverses straight right off the belay for 30' before heading straight up for another 30' to a crux roof; the missing anchor would make this situation very difficult for the belayer to provide a good belay for the leader should he or she fall at the roof. And unfortunately protection post-traverse isn't really ideal for setting up what would be a hanging belay out right. Nevertheless, your goal is the giant, chute-like roof. The climbing up to it is scantily protected, but once there good pro is available: at one time there were two decent pins under the roof, but they could possibly be backed up with supplemental gear (though be careful not to occupy a crucial crimp/slot). I've heard that funky, funky moves that seem extremely improbable pull this roof at what might be 5.10c. Upon turning the lip, build a belay at a sloping stance just beneath a striking rattly finger crack below another blocky roof overhead.

P3 (5.10d, 100'): Climb the rattly finger crack to a wide crack to an awkward hand crack through this final roof (crux). Continue more easily up jugs and incuts to the summit.

If there are no anchors on the summit you might have to leave gear, sling a horn, or simply down climb the southern shoulder of the formation (at 5.5 X). There was once an intermediate anchor halfway down this which would allow for a final rappel to the notch between the North and South Sister, though the rappel would be about 40 meters long.

All my info comes second-hand so I cannot vouch for it's accuracy, but I will say this: There is no hope of rescue here; you're on your own.


A single set from tiny to #4 Camalot. 2 each 0.5 to #1 Camalots. A set of stoppers.

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