A cover shot not by me! This is too good a shot to pass up though. Me on CCK (5.7+).
A few weeks back I finally got Carly to agree to head up to the Gunks with me. We’ve done plenty of trad cragging at places in Connecticut and she’s done well cleaning gear so I thought she’d be ready for some classics at the Gunks. As per usual we headed out on Friday night and made our way to New Paltz. If you recall we had a span of nearly a week with some precip almost every day and we were heading out the first weekend since that wetness broke. As a result I figured that the Gunks would be packed on the first nice weekend in a while, but luckily no.
Getting to Camp Slime we set up the tent at one of the sites near the entrance. There was only two other parties there, one setting up tents the same time as us and another French-Canadian couple who were in the big site near the ranger house. The other newcomers told us that the site all the way up at the top of the hill was open. I’m not sure if they alerted us to this because we were close to them and they wanted some privacy or if they were just being nice. Either way we headed up to the penthouse spots and set up camp. I’ve never had the top spot and it is pretty nice; ample space for tents and rocks for sitting. …
Saturday morning we got up and made some PB&Js for lunch and headed out around 7:30. We almost got in without paying for Carly but at the lookout the ranger drove up in his truck and we had to fork over the cash for her. I’ve still got my pass so I was good to go. We were some of the first ones out to the cliff. Taking advantage of the open routes we hit up Horseman (5.5) a great introduction to Gunks climbing. Some polished rock, some corners, an easy roof, and plenty of steep juggy face climbing. We had a good time on this one pitch warm up so we headed farther down the cliff so that we could work our way back to the parking lot as the day went on.
Next up was Ursula (5.5) a two pitch climb about 20 minutes walk on the carriage road. Carly was amazed at the easy access to the routes. There is definitely nowhere quite like the Gunks for approaches. Ursula is a climb I did a while back when I was first starting to lead on my own and I remembered it being fun. The first pitch is ok but the second is really the fun one. From the fixed belay the route heads up through just slightly more than vertical terrain but on big jugs. Lots of fun.
We headed back down the cliff a bit and saw that High Exposure (5.6+) was open and jumped on it. It isn’t too often that this is open midday on a sunny Saturday. I headed up the first pitch and to the GT ledge. From here we were the only ones on the ledge which is rare. I moved into the next pitch and Carly mistakenly didn’t watch me through the crux. When she got through she had the full High Exposure moment all the way from the crux through the steep jugs to the top.
Our next pitch we shot over towards CCK where I thought she’d be ready to deal with a bigger ante. Unfortunately I over estimated her hand and we had a little trouble on the second pitch. I’ve done this route once before and rather than taking the usual path from the GT ledge to the right then traversing waaay left, I went up from the ledge through a notch in the roof. This line follows the CCK Direct (5.9) route. While below the roof I placed a nut high up in the notch and decided that I didn’t want to go directly up through the notch. This put my pro down and to my left when I pulled through the roof. When Carly came up after me she couldn’t negotiate going to the left or right of the notch, nor could she go directly up through it. Due to the nature of the route there is a fair amount of rope drag because of bulges and traverses. This made giving her a boost through the roof very difficult. I ended up having to create a 7:1 haul system which still was strenuous and slow. The other downside was a 0 TCU I placed as a directional just before the belay popped while hauling her. I thought I busted it but on further inspection some of the wires were just bent and couple be fixed with needle-nose pliers. Either way after getting through the roof she made it to the P2 belay.
The final short pitch was good fun for me as always but the second pitch took a little of Carly’s mental edge off. She was able to traverse over to the vertical crack just fine, but negotiating that got a little tricky and she slipped a couple times. No major damage was sustained and she made it up. We decided that it was a good stopping point for the day and we headed to Split Rock to cool off and then into town for some sushi.
Though there were still many more classics that I wanted to expose Carly to we headed over to the Nears. Here we warmed up on Disneyland (5.6) which is fun climb no problems were had and Carly started figuring out some of the movement the Gunks requires. From there we headed down to Gelsa (5.4) for more classic fun. No one was on this route as well. P1 of this climb is always disappointing to me compared to the second pitch, but I suppose it is worth the sub par traversing pitch. Soon I will have to do Roseland (5.9) to get to P2 instead. Carly had great fun on the exposed, juggy roofs of the second pitch despite having another leader crawling up her bum.
Our final route of the day was way down the Nears at Yum Yum Yab Yum (5.3). I heard this route was similar to CCK just with less committing moves. We headed up after a short conversation with a guide that we could rap the route since there were fixed belays at each belay. The first two pitches were fine, nothing special; I would combine them if I do this route again. Heading up the money pitch (P4) does give a pretty good dose of exposure, not as good as CCK though. After pulling the final move I looked around for the belay station but came up empty. I searched around for a few minutes but just couldn’t see any slung tree, block or fixed anchors. Bringing Carly up we both looked around for about 10-15 minutes with no luck. Instead we used the Eenie Meanie rap anchors a little to climber’s left of the route. This set of rap rings was less than stellar though. The first was fine, just a little awkward. It did give a little bit of free hanging rappelling which was fun though. The anchors nearest the ground were a slightly sketch and I’d probably skip this as an option next time. All the pieces looked find it was just that the large block wasn’t attached and was perched on top of a smaller one. Wish I knew were the real anchors were.
We decided that we were tuckered out after this epic 4 pitcher so we headed back to Split Rock to cool off again before heading home. Hopefully we get another weekend out there soon.