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The Last Will Be First 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 230'
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Ants Leemets and Elmer Skahan, 1965
Page Views: 6,705
Submitted By: Jeff Welch on Apr 23, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (137)
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Tatiana on the finishing moves


A highly under-rated route, The Last Will Be First is one of my favorite 5.6's in the Gunks, and an excellent test-piece for the 5.6 leader. Pitch 1 features great, sustained, thoughtful face climbing above gear on clean rock, and pitch 2 has a fun overhang.

The route is a short ways left of High Exposure. The start is on an easy, low-angle face with some grassy ledges about 10-15 feet up - look for a vertical crack about 30-40 feet above.

P1: Climb up the easy lower rock to a crack. Follow the steepening crack to its top, then continue up and right across the clean face to an overhang below a left-facing corner. Pull the overhang and climb the corner to its top, where it is capped by another overhang. Escape right and continue up to a small ledge with the stump of a dead tree. Step right and climb easier rock to the GT ledge. 5.6 PG, 160 feet.

P2: Walk left about 20 feet to the first small left-facing corner. Climb the corner to a horizontal, then diagonal up and left to the notch in the overhang. Make some fun moves to pull to overhang, then continue up the slightly dirty corner about 10 feet before diagonaling up and right on easy, broken rock to the top. A worthwhile pitch. 5.6 PG, 70 feet.

Descent: Rappel from the bolt anchor back to the GT ledge (your ropes land directly at the start of P2, so be sure to call before you throw them). On the GT ledge, another bolt anchor appears to climber's left, from which two 60m ropes will get you to the ground, or a single rope will get you to a third bolted rap station. This a popular area of the cliff, so watch where you throw your ropes.

From the clifftop (and other routes), you'll need to scramble down a bit to reach the bolts. Look for the notch where the climb finishes.


The gear is good the entire way, although not always immediately obvious. There are some committing moves above gear. Doubles in the smaller sizes can be helpful (pink tri-cam, 0.5 and 1.0 Friends).

Photos of The Last Will Be First Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: You know, looking at the photos in both Williams' ...
BETA PHOTO: You know, looking at the photos in both Williams' ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Look for this distinctive "double tree" ...
BETA PHOTO: Look for this distinctive "double tree" ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Great top out on last will be first!
Great top out on last will be first!
Rock Climbing Photo: Tatiana following pitch 1
Tatiana following pitch 1
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Gregory coming up the second pitch of The La...
Chris Gregory coming up the second pitch of The La...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is the second pitch.  If at any point you're ...
BETA PHOTO: This is the second pitch. If at any point you're ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Third pitch starts up the left-facing corner.  Pro...
BETA PHOTO: Third pitch starts up the left-facing corner. Pro...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me leading P2 of The Last Will Be First.  You can ...
BETA PHOTO: Me leading P2 of The Last Will Be First. You can ...
Rock Climbing Photo: At Last! I'm putting this up mainly because on at ...
BETA PHOTO: At Last! I'm putting this up mainly because on at ...

Comments on The Last Will Be First Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 22, 2017
By losbill
May 30, 2007
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Repeated High E and did Moonlight and The Last Shall Be First for the first time on Sunday. P1 is nice and long featuring consistent 5.6 climbing on clean rock with a number of interesting moves above gear. P2 is a little bit of a one trick pony with the moves over the overhang. Overall the exposure and position certainly don't rival Moonlight or High E. However the sheer number of quality moves on P1 make this climb deserving of 3 stars.
By Tim Schafstall
Apr 2, 2008

Indeed a great route and hard for the grade. Beware of the runout at the start of P2, and be aware that a second will have a difficult time regaining the rock (without some lowering) if they fall on the P1 crux.
By Spiro
Apr 19, 2008
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

great climb, do not hesitate to do it!
Jul 31, 2009

Great job with the description - totally agree on quality, and that it's a good 'testpiece 5.6'
By SethG
Jun 7, 2010

Great route. I have to disagree with the comment above about the second pitch being run out to the crux. So long as you stay within reach of the corner to your right there is plenty of gear. I posted a photo showing how much I sewed up the second pitch up to the crux, and I could have placed even more gear if I'd felt like it. If you move further left it is true that you'd have a harder time placing much gear before the overhang. (Edit: I now think I was off-route! Further to the left of where I went is Unholy Wick, and The Last Will Be First actually goes further to the right. Check out the photos I posted and tell me what you think.)

Two high quality pitches. I thought the crux was actually the short thin section at a bulge below the corner and overhang on the first pitch.
By SethG
Dec 5, 2011

I returned to The Last Will Be First and did the correct second pitch.

There are no runouts, it is well-protected and fun.

I'm also not sure I understand Tim's comment above about the first pitch. It would not be hard to get back on if you fell off at the crux. The overhang is not large and there are no traverses. Honestly, I think he may have been thinking of the wrong climb.

I think this is one of the best 5.6 climbs in the Gunks! Sustained, good moves on good rock from the bottom of the cliff to the top.
By Kevin Heckeler
From: Upstate New York
Apr 8, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13

I did the second pitch exactly as described here and there was definitely a section of ground fall/ledge fall between my second piece and just before the crux. Fortunately it's 5.4-ish climbing with decent hands/feet. Gear after that is good. I'd give Pitch 2 a R rating.

Pitch 1 was long and I had to be creative to conserve cams and draws. Add a little spice with some runouts between pieces, but mostly PG (~15 feet). I'd only recommend someone solid climbing at 5.8 (self-confident) lead this. Not a good beginner's climb, especially if you add Pitch 2. With the amount of runout between good placements I'd put this climb in the "do not fall" category. It's an excellent climb despite!
By Logan Schiff
From: Brooklyn, NY
Aug 28, 2012
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Only did the first pitch, but I really enjoyed it. Climbing is no harder than 5.6 but some of the gear placements are tricky/thin and there is a good amount of climbing above gear. Wouldn't recommend it as an entry level 5.6 lead climb. Bring a good amount of draws/gear since the pitch is quite long.
By A.wilk Wilk
From: Olympia, WA
Jun 25, 2013
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13

P1 has a lot of committing 5.6 moves over gear and is fun all the way through.

P2 is very spicy until the overhang. You can wiggle in small pieces here and there but for much of the face below the roof you are in ledge fall territory. The crux and rest of the climb protects well, however.
By JD1984
From: Worcester, MA
Jan 30, 2014

I don't remember there being much pro for the first 35 feet of climbing but this is certainly one of the better 5.6 climbs in the Trapps. Makes for a nice approach to the last pitch of High E when the area is packed with guides on the weekend. This route is often empty!
By Adam Marcus
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 2, 2014

Beware the topo from SethG. It's impossible to read the labels when looking at the photo on your phone and the caption is also cut off. Of all the lines, the actual route is the line to the far right. Basically, go straight up from the start, on the face to the right of the slight overhang.

Also - If you've got 2 60 meter ropes tied together, it's enough to get from the top all the way to the ground.
By Optimistic
From: New Paltz
Oct 13, 2014

A little (actually a lot of) gear beta:
-there are a couple of funny little pods in the crack toward the bottom of the first pitch. I found smallish hybrid mastercams handy there, and a pink or black tricam would probably work too. I mention this because either way this is not gear that everyone carries all the time...

-there is a nice red/yellow camalot placement just as you're pulling through the little p1 overlap into the base of the left-facing corner. You have to stop in the middle of a little crux to place it, but if you don't, you'll have pretty poor pro as you work your way up the corner above the overlap and be looking at a pretty significant fall by the time you get to the next pro. Whether you place that cam or not, you're still going to be doing moves a ways above gear. I mention that because the red/gold placement is easy to skip as you're trying to pull through the overlap, and then really hard to get afterwards.

-the really cool headwall above the corner takes good gear in many spots...but there were several times where my only options were red or gold camalots, and I'd already used all of 'em. Conserve that size low on the pitch.

As other people have said this is a really nice climb, but it's not a good choice for your first 5.6 lead (same with p2, where gear is a little sparse as well).
By Systematic
Oct 13, 2015
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13

Fun route with varied and interesting moves. This is a really good one to do once you've done lots of other 5.6s at the Gunks. The gear can be tricky and there's some cruxy climbing above gear.

There's a spot-on comment on here made by Optimistic regarding gear placement in the left facing corner. After pulling the move I could only get a really crappy small cam in because the good placement was below my knees.
By Gunkiemike
Oct 27, 2015

I've always considered the 1st pitch as sort of a "final exam for the 5.6 leader" (for the reasons mentioned in the above comments). P2 is also excellent; don't miss it, but check the book description AND PHOTO carefully so you don't get lost (easy to do up there). You want to start about 18-20 ft right of the bolts.
By Danny
From: brooklyn, ny
May 22, 2017

My second was unable to retrieve my Black Diamond .75 x4 cam from the second pitch. It's in the long crack that runs through the roof of the second pitch.

If you are able to get it out, I would pay for shipping to send to me and would hugely appreciate it!! My phone number is 914-262-1930 if you get it out, call me - thank you so much in advance!

(I do believe I went off route doing the second pitch, opting to climb left and up the roof, it was slightly tricky doing the face moves up to the roof, but fun nonetheless.)

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