Climbing in the Gunks [Day Trip]

On one of the few nice Saturdays in early May, when I was suppose to be doing a training ride, my biking friend Courtney told me she might go climbing upstate instead with her roommates. I basically invited myself along, I’ve wanted to do some outdoor climbing since I moved here, convinced my roommate to let me borrow his rope to add to my value, got myself a seat in the car and away we went to The Gunks.

 I had heard a lot about the climbing up there. Some good, some bad, bottom line, you need a car and I needed someone with gear. In college, my friends had ropes and all other trad and sport climbing gear. So all I had was what I personally needed: a harness, shoes, and a belay device. When I moved to NY, I basically stopped climbing, the few gyms that existed were too expensive and far from any area I would typically be in. Brooklyn Boulders opened a few toward ago and I love it, but it’s still too much to get a membership or pay the day rate with any frequency. Maybe I should have been more aggressive about befriending the few people I occasionally met who did go upstate climbing frequently and I would have stuck with it more. But then I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be much of a biker. Now I just need to move somewhere I can do both.
Anyway, back to the important stuff. It was about a two hour drive up to the climbing area which is in the Mohonk Preserve, just outside of New Paltz. We stopped there to pick up sandwiches and snacks for the day. We also made one more stop just before arriving at the parking area, we stopped at a small, free camping area to claim a spot. I couldn’t stay the night, but I wish I could have. It was just off the road on the left as you head to the parking area. Noted for next time of course.
Required sandwich shop

Required sandwich shop

To get to the climbing areas, you have to pay a $17 fee a day for access or you can get a year pass, all of this goes to the Mohonk Preserve. Once you have your pass you head along a wide trail with the cliff rising up beside you. If you want to just for a hike or bike ride on it, it is absolutely beautiful. On the trail you are already up pretty high and have a fantastic view of the valley below. The guys wanted to climb in an area where the Spring route was so we walked down the trail for maybe a mile before scrambling up the “steps” through the boulders and fallen rocks leading you to the wall base. The area was relatively quite, just a couple groups doing routes. Double bonus, the rock faces mostly east, so before we got too hot, at least in May, we were in the shadows.
In front...

In front…

To the left...

To the left…

and to the right

and to the right

The guys did mostly lead climbing and set up top ropes for Courtney and I to climb behind them. The first climb we did was called Oblique Tweek which was a 5.8 and I surprised myself by getting up it pretty easily. Then I could be a pansy for the rest of the day. I did three other routes, Blistered Toe and Spring and one I don’t remember. I also redid a route or half a route cause I crapped out. I also had a momentary freak out on my first run up once I got up above the trees. You’re way up there above everything and it is an absolutely amazing view when you turn around. It’s also a bit freaky when you haven’t been climbing in while and decide your knot must be messed up or something. The moment passed and I finished the route.

Can you find Ryan up there?

Can you find Ryan up there?

Making it look easy?

Making it look easy?

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Best climbing dog ever, Tucker.

Best climbing dog ever, Tucker.

Very pregnant lady rocking it. I am too clumsy to be able to do that.

Very pregnant lady rocking it. I am too clumsy to be able to do that.

A friend for Tucker

A friend for Tucker

The rock and routes were really great. I don’t know why people would have something to complain about. Western snobs I guess. For the most part it was all trad climbing, there may have been some sport routes somewhere. The holds were excellent, maybe not so obvious at first, but once you found them, they were solid. I realize this is all based on one day of climbing, but seriously, it is one big cliff of the same rock. I loved it. We finished up in the early evening and they dropped me at the bus station in New Paltz to get back to New York. I mixed up the Saturday and Sunday schedule, so I ended up having an hour to kill and went to the closest bar to have a beer and finish the day off right. I would definitely love to get back up there again before I move. I would even be willing to come back to visit friends and bring some climbing friends with to head to the Gunks for a few days too.

See the look out tower on the cliff? We were to the left of that.

See the look out tower on the cliff? We were to the left of that.

Perfect end for the day.

Perfect end for the day.

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One thought on “Climbing in the Gunks [Day Trip]

  1. cliffmama

    Hi, there are no sport routes at the Gunks. There are a couple of climbs that have some old or replaced pitons/pins, and some bolts that got grandfathered in before bolting was banned. But these bolts are on blank sections of existing trad lines (e.g., Sente, Arrow), there are no climbs that are all bolted for sport climbing.

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