Recommended Routes

We have tried to make our recommended routes section more than a copy of the routes with the most stars in the guidebook. This section will be changing and expanding over time, so check back occassionally. Most, but not all, of these routes/formations fall into the "short" hike category. Notations indicate longer approaches.

DISCLAIMER! We provide Mountain Project links as a convenience to our visitors. We have no affiliation with Mountain Project, nor do we accept an liabilty associated with the accuracy of their listings.

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Safe, Easy to Moderate Climbs (up to 5.9)top of page

Easy(er) Leads

East Side

  • Tourist Trap:

    Rat Race (5.7 - Guide pg. 39 Mountain Projects Route Description): as strange as it sounds this big roof really is pretty easy. It does require natural pro, but you can get 2 or even 3 pieces in below the roof if you want to be extra secure. (#2 to #3 Cams)

  • Discovery Wall:

    Portent (5.5 - Guide pg. 53 Mountain Projects Route Description): Totally a classic. Fairly sporty in the distance between bolts but the climbing is easy. Can be done in two pitches for an additional adventure.

  • Monolith (East):

    Regular Route (5.8 - Guide pg. 75 Mountain Projects Route Description): Another total classic, but surprisingly tough start (crux at the bottom). Also, fairly run out in places. Not recommended for your first 5.8 lead.

  • Sisters, The:

    First Sister Center Route (5.4 - Guide pg. 93 Mountain Projects Route Description): It may only be 5.4, but you'll feel as though you really accomplished something when you reach the top. You can rappel all the way to the bottom with 2 ropes. Alternatively, you can now safely descend using a single rope via an intermediate rappel station.

Easy Lead Cautions

The following are warnings based on re-occurring feedback concerning the climbs:

  • Tourist Trap:
    Thrill Hammer (5.8 - Guide pg. 39 Mountain Projects Route Description): This is a great climb, but it's a stiff lead - very sustained, with a difficult finish. Not recommended for your first 5.8 lead.
  • The Monolith:
    Direct Route (5.6 - pg. 73 Mountain Projects Route Description) Although this is a classic, it is NOT recommend for a beginning lead because it is quite runout.

West Side

  • Elephant Rock:

    Regular Route (5.3 - Guide pg. 264 Mountain Projects Route Description): This is a great route. It's a little sporty and has a short chimney, but it has a very high "Indiana Jones" factor. The view from the top is spectacular and you can TR Mousetrap (5.10) when you're done. Be careful of the loose rock on the approach slab. Alternately, if you hike all the way up the trail to the right of Elephant (to the tree in the notch) there is a short, one bolt 5.8 climb that bypasses the 3rd class approach.

  • Machete Ridge (Badman Mezzanine, Right Side Base):

    Dos Equis (5.8 R - Guide pg. 323 Mountain Projects Route Description): The mega-classic on the West Side. Pretty well protected and can be TR'ed once it's been led once. Caution! Use a long rope. A single 165' won't get you all the way down or let you TR.

    Twinkle Toes Traverse (5.5 - Guide pg. 323 Mountain Projects Route Description): One of our favorite easy leads on the West Side. Two pitches of fun climbing. Notes: You will need a #1.5 or #2 cam for the first pitch and you will need two ropes to rap off. The climb you will be rapping over is Bandits In Bondage, a classic 5.11.

  • Chockstone Dome:

    Mountain Projects Formation Description(Guide pg. 304): There are three good routes on this rock (5.3, 5.6 and 5.8). All three are fun and relatively well protected. The 5.6 has a high exposure factor.

Moderate Climbs to Hard Climbs (5.9 to 5.10a)top of page

Moderate Leads

East Side

  • Discovery Wall:

    Jorgie's Crack (5.9 - Guide pg. 57 Mountain Projects Route Description): One of the classic cracks at the Park. Lots of options for pro, but beware the slick rock.

  • Tiburcio's X:

    Coyote Ugly (5.9 - Guide pg. 85 Mountain Projects Route Description): Spectacular exposure on a long pitch. Throw in a little trad gear and some healthy distance between clips and this classic should get your blood flowing.

High Peaks

  • Long's Folly:

    Abner Bear Is Everywhere (5.10a - Guide pg. 205 Mountain Projects Route Description): Some of the best pockets at the Park in a spectacular setting.

  • Shaft, The:

    The Shaft (5.10a - Guide pg. 193 Mountain Projects Route Description): Steep, relentless, great positions - not to mention you are climbing the side of an amazing, 80 foot, pinnacle.

West Side

  • Balconies Southeast Face (right):

    Shake And Bake (5.10a R - Guide pg. 291 Mountain Projects Route Description): The short first pitch is just a taste of the exposure your are in for on this incredible West Side classic. Soon you will be looking down at a couple hundred feet of air and wishing you had wings. Stem's the word.

  • Balconies Southeast Face (left):

    Lava Falls (5.9+ - Guide pg. 291 Mountain Projects Route Description): You should definately be a solid 5.9 climber for this one. You will be challenged by airy positions with respectable distances between clips on a long first pitch. Conserve your strength.

  • Flumes Wall:

    Rebecca's Sailing (5.9 - Guide pg. 279 Mountain Projects Route Description): A joyous ascent up this wonderful and long line. Good protection, a great view will reward your effort.

Hard Climbs (5.10b and Up)top of page

Challenging Leads

East Side

  • Monolith (North Face):

    Rocket In My Pocket (5.10d - Guide pg. 77 Mountain Projects Route Description): Steep, balancy and thoughtful. On this route sequences make the difference and you will want to find those rests.

  • Yaks Wall:

    Split Infinity (5.10c - Guide pg. 113 Mountain Projects Route Description): Yaks Wall is a gem and this climb an instant classic - powerful moves up a wildly eposed chute.

  • Discovery Wall:

    Buffalo Soldier (5.10d - Guide pg. 57 Mountain Projects Route Description): Bring some gear and prepare for some thin edging on steep terrain. Great exposure adds to the experience.

  • Monolith (East):

    Cantaloupe Death (5.10c - Guide pg. 75 Mountain Projects Route Description): Watch that first step. This one will get your heart pumping before you make your first move.

  • Marmot Rock:

    Heretic, The (5.10b - Guide pg. 105 Mountain Projects Route Description): Marmot rock is another hidden gem and this climb will not disappoint - great rock and killer moves.

  • Monolith (East):

    POD (5.10d - Guide pg. 73 Mountain Projects Route Description): The ultimate steep jug-haul challenge. This climb is about stamina and persaverance. The definitive Pinnacles classic.

  • Discovery Wall:

    Cosmos (5.11b - Guide pg. 61 Mountain Projects Route Description): Bouldery moves and a traverse into a roof... and that's just for starters. This route was created to get you pumped.

  • Moses Spring Wall:

    Heat Seeking Moisture Missile (5.10d - Guide pg. 65 Mountain Projects Route Description): Take this climb seriously. 5.10d doesn't come any harder. This series of overhanging bulges will command your attention.

  • Hand, The:

    Love Line (5.10c R - Guide pg. 132 Mountain Projects Route Description): A trip to The Hand is an adventure in itself, but this route makes it that much more imperative. An improbably steep water chute takes ushers you to some memorable locations.

    Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (5.10c R - Guide pg. 133): Challenging moves on steep rock await on this classic hidden in the Hand/Thumb corridor.

  • Discovery Wall:

    Broken Arrow (5.10d - Guide pg. 58 Mountain Projects Route Description): Quintessential face climbing - delicate and thin; a Discovery Wall classic test piece.

West Side

  • Machete Ridge (North Face):

    Cuidado! (5.10c - Guide pg. 317 Mountain Projects Route Description): One of the longest climbs in the Park and it will challenge you the entire climb.

High Peaks

  • Tuff Dome:

    Adagio (5.10d - Guide pg. 221): Delicate, thin and balancy. If you are a edge-fanatic you won't want to miss this one. Bring a camera for the photo opportunities.

Top Roping Optionstop of page

Top Ropes

East Side

There are two good top rope areas on the East Side:

  • Teaching Rock (aka Top Rope Wall) (pg. 86 of the Brad Young guide)
  • The Carousel (pg. 155) The routes on this formation are shorter, but it's further from the crowds and gets more sun.

For additional details, see our FAQ section.

West Side

Top Ropes here are harder to come by, but try:

  • Passion Play (5.7 - pg. 258) This is a great climb and a good (tricky) lead. It is possible to walk up to the anchors to set a top rope.
  • The Bouldering Rock (pg. 270) This rock sports some great problems. One of the faces has bolts at the top for TRing.
  • The Rookie (5.10+ - pg. 271) Want to play on a really steep jug climb? You can 3rd/4th class to the top of this one and TR. Bring long slings.
  • Smiling Simian (pg. 301) - Subject to closures for raptor nesting! This boulder has several good TR's on it, but the only "safe" way up is a stiff 5.7 lead. After the closures are lifted in July you should check it out.

For more details, see our FAQ section.

Pinnacles News

  • Westside Closed Due To Rain

    Due to damage caused by high winds and heavy rainfall over the past few days, the west side (Soledad, CA) of Pinnacles National Park and the Balconies trail are temporarily closed to all users.

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