The First Sister

Page Type Page Type: Route
Additional Information Route Type: Sport Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: 5.4 (YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 1
Sign the Climber's Log


The first of the Five Sisters, the obvious leaning slabs just east of the reservoir, has two routes on its face, Left Route, 5.5, and Center Route, 5.4.

Both routes are quite enjoyable and worth doing for the wonderful views from the top of the routes. Not only do you get views of the reservoir and Tiburcio's X, you also get views of the Frog, the Hand, the Hatchet and Gertie's Pinnacle. In the distance, you can see the Deserted Valley and the Neglected Valley.

The rock on the First Sister is typical Pinnacles breccia. The face is climbed often enough that the rock is pretty good. However, you still need to be somewhat cautious as the holds can break.

View from the First SisterView From The Top

Getting There

From the Bear Gulch Visitors Center, head towards the reservoir. After starting out on Moses Spring Trail, you can go through the Bear Gulch Cave or you can by pass the caves by taking the Rim Trail. Once you are at the reservoir, you will see the sisters. Walk across the dam and continue walking along the reservoir until you see the second post indicating a climber's trail. Head up that trail for a short distance and you will be at the base of the fist sister.

Route Description

Both routes are bolted. There are two bolted anchors on the top of the face. In addition, are two more anchors, equipped with chains, about half way up the face. These anchors enable you to rappel off the face with one rope, instead of a double rope rappel from the top anchors.

The Left Route starts on the left side of the block at the base . Basically, the route continues straight up the face, past one bolt before reaching an intermediate set of anchors, equipped with rappel chains. There is another bolt or two before a run to the anchor at the top.

You can start the Center Route by climbing to the past the first bolt on the to the lower intermediate anchor. You then traverse right and clip three more bolts before reaching the anchor on the top. You can also start this route from the block at the base of the climb.

One thing I did not discover until the third time I climbed the Center Route is that there is wide ledge on the backside of the face. It is a pleasant place to hang out and take in the views.

First SisterJen starting the Center Route

First Sister #2Jen and Tim on the Center Route

First Sister #3Jen climbing the Center Route

Essential Gear

No special equipment is needed beyond your rope, quick draws, and gear to build an anchors. You can rappel off using one rope, as described above, or you can do a double-rope rappel from the top.

The Pinnacles can get hot and potable water is not available after the parking lots. So always bring enought water with you.

If you go through the Bear Gulch Cave, a flashlight is advisable. (I once fell in the caves, thinking I really didn't need to bother with a flashlight. )

Other Routes on the Sisters

There are other routes on the sisters, which see less trafic than the First Sister. These routes include:

First Sister - Back Side 5.7
Third Sister - Little Sister Spire 5.6 R
Fourth Sister - West Fave 5.5 X
Fourth Sister - North Shoulder 5.1 X
Ghost of Tiburcio's 5.6
Going thr Wong Way 5.7
Fifth Sister 5.6 X