If you drive 90 miles north of New York city, you’ll be rewarded with seclusion and beauty you only dreamt of. And no we’re not talking about the old Woodstock grounds. The Shawangunk Ridge, known by most as the ‘Gunks’, is a cliff line that stretches south to north rising 300 feet in certain areas. Primarily composed of quartzite, it hosts some of the East Coast’s most classic routes and treasured history. Development dates back to early visionary Fritz Wiessner’s first ascent of the ‘Old Route’ (5.5) in 1935. Since, the Gunks has been flooded with beginners and professionals alike to see if they can withstand the horizontal cracks, pumpy gear-placements and sometimes insanely run-out routes.
Two summers ago, my friend Justin, his girlfriend Becky and I decided to make the pilgrimage from Georgia to see just what the Gunks were all about. For 4 days we proved ourselves amongst the multi-pitch traditional routes. Balancing up tricky face climbs, clipping rusty out-dated pitons, navigating through steep overhangs and braving the ridiculous sandbags. The Gunks stood up to it’s reputation. So if you find yourself East of the Mississippi, stuck in the big cities, longing for interaction with nature – stop through the Gunks. And enjoy a true adventure, high in the sky!
Directions: From New Paltz, NY take Route 299 to Route 44/55, turn right and continue to Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center. Here you’ll need to pay for a day pass but grab a map for free. There four primary areas toexplore. The Trapps is the most popular of the bunch, The Near Trapps is secondary still offering over 200 routes, Peterskill (a seperate fee to enter) is a mini version of the Trapps with cliff’s averaging 100 feet and Millsaps is a remote, 40 minute hike to some true adventure climbing of the Gunks.
Gear: A Standard Gunks Rack should include:
Micro-nuts (especially when climbing 5.10 or above)
1 set stoppers (#4-#12 BD or equivalent)
Cams (blue alien to #3 Camalot or equivalents)
10-12 extendable runner (24in)
1 long runner (48in)
Hotels/Camping: There are many hotels in New Paltz but if you’re looking to save some money; free camping can be found at the NY State DEC multi-use area off Route 299 as you’re driving up the mountain (no amenities though). Also there is a new American Alpine Club campground that costs $24 a night for members (AAC and Monhonk Preserve) / $38 non-members. And finally if you sent your project and think you deserve a bonus, the New Paltz hostel is $30 night for a shared room which includes wifi, a kitchen and an indoor bathroom – a cherished commodity after 4 days in the woods.
3 Early Classic 5.6 Sandbags at the Trapps
High Exposure (FA/1941), Madam G (1953), Shockley’s Ceiling (1953)
Joseph Hobby 4/14/15
Brave Explorations. Soulful Discoveries.