It has been a long 5 months since I ventured outside for a climb. I probably could have climbed more over the winter but I’m not Ken Nichols. But this weekend, the first beautiful weekend of 2010, Chrystal and I headed out to the Gunks for a weekend getaway. The temps were in the 50’s and winds were low. A couple weeks ago this area of NY got hammered with snow. I don’t know exact totals but it was well over a foot and probably closer to two in many areas. This residual snow was on the Undercliff road. The temps and the number of people who frequent the road keep it relatively easy, if only a bit slippery.
Our objective for the weekend was not necessarily climbing, just to relax and take in the warm weather. Saturday we headed out from the main parking lot only planning to take a hike. We didn’t think there would be anything dry because of the melting snow. However after we approached the cliff along the road we saw it was plenty dry so we headed back to the car and got the climbing gear. After waiting for a couple to finish up on Horseman (5.5) I headed up. The climb is a classic route at the Gunks. It starts up a slightly low angle face to a tree then up to a large right facing corner. The corner creates a large roof which the route bypasses and traverses. Once the traverse is complete the climb heads up again. There are two sets of anchors, left and right. I opted for the left though Dick Williams book refers to the right ones. To the left is slightly more difficult. After setting up my belay at the anchors Chrystal climbed up and cleaned superbly.
The rappel is a bit hairy as my rope a 60m, didn’t quite make it to the ground. It looked like I would have come up about 3 feet short. So rather than dropping the last three feet I swung my feet on to a ledge about 10 feet up and batmanned down. Chrystal ended up having a little more trouble because she is not as heavy therefore had less rope stretch. She got to the ledge and down climbed from there.
After pulling the ropes we made our way to Bunny (5.4), another classic climb. While this is a 5.4 it is deceiving. Many of the Gunks climbs were their grade back in the day. After tens of thousands of ascents a lot of the rock is polished smooth, making for a little bit harder of a climb. Nevertheless, it is still an easy route. I made my way up, though a bit slower than on Horseman. No problems were encountered and Chrystal aced it as second. The shadows were getting long and we were hungry so we headed out after rapping down. We had a date with the Mountain Brauhaus, some creamy rabbit soup and sausage medley. Yum!
Sunday was a fun walk around downtown New Paltz to check out the place. A good Greek gyro and some snacks from the natural food store made for a relaxing time in the sun before heading back to Connecticut.