Last week Chris and I drove ten hours to climb at one of my favorite areas in the eastern US – the Shawangunk Mountains, a.k.a the Gunks. The Gunks are located 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of New York City, in the Hudson River Valley. The Gunks aren’t so much mountains as they are an escarpment 19 kilometres (12 miles) long and 90 metres (300 feet) high.
People have been rock climbing in the Gunks since the 1930s and today there are more than 1,000 established climbing routes, most of them accessed by a carriage road running along the base of the cliff.
We arrived Tuesday afternoon after spending a few rainy days in Massachusetts. The weather forecast was still iffy, but we decided to give it a chance. I’m glad we did – we managed to climb for five days straight with only a few rain sprinkles here and there.
We spent most of our time climbing in the Trapps area. We both managed to lead some new climbs and get on some old favorites.
Climbing in the Gunks can be pretty intimidating. Large roofs and overhangs – even on easy climbs – , very exposed walls, and PG-rated climbs make for some adventurous climbing.
On this trip, Chris managed to get a clean lead of Retribution – a hard 5.10b climb that had eluded him last time.
One of Chris’s favorite climbs of the trip was Modern Times – a 5.8+ with a series of overhangs at the crux. To climb through the crux, he had to cut loose from the wall and campus a few moves (climb using only his arms, legs dangling in the air). When I got to that part of the climb, I didn’t have the upper-body strength to do the moves and ended up having to aid through the crux – a time-consuming process, but better than Chris having to come down and rescue me. Extra slings for aiding are a must for me in the Gunks!
Saturday was our last day of climbing and we decided to go to the Near Trapps area which is less busy as the approach is along the cliff instead of on a carriage road. Our last climb of the day was Birdland, a beautiful two-pitch climb. The first pitch is a tricky face climb while the second pitch goes through a series of roofs. I was happy to be able to climb through the roofs on this climb. A great way to end another fun climbing road trip.