Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Mohonk Preserve: 09/14/2010
Driving towards the Shawangunk Ridge from New Paltz at this time of year, you can't help being struck by the bounty of late summer. Apples, gourds, sunflowers, early pumpkins and late-season corn seem to overflow from the orchards, fields, barns and roadside stands. Jason and I were after a different harvest, however: the Shawangunk Ridge contains the highest concentration of rock climbing routes on the East Coast.
Pumpkins fill wooden crates at the Jenkins-Lueken farmstand
We had been trying to connect since mid-summer for a day of climbing in the Gunks, and our calendars finally matched up. Our agenda was simple: a laid-back day of easy climbing on high quality rock.
Rhododendron was our warm-up climb, a short 5.6- straight-on crack line. Rhodo’s vertical crack provides plenty of opportunities for easy-to-place protection, so it’s a perfect warm-up for guys like Jason and me who have only been out climbing a handful of times this summer. Today was my second climbing day this year, so two makes a handful, right?
Following Rhodo, we headed down the cliff for some fun moves on Beginner’s Delight (BD), a high quality multi-pitch climb that invariably feels more difficult than its 5.3 rating. BD has plenty of steep, exposed climbing and a traverse section that makes BD less of a delight for some beginners, yet the holds seem to appear just where you want them, accounting for BD’s relatively easy 5.3 rating.
The cliffs of the Shawangunk ridge are composed of a textured quartzite conglomerate that provides horizontal fractures and in-cut holds. The suitability of this rock for climbing gives rise to literally hundreds of climbing routes spread over four main cliffs: the Trapps, the Near Trapps, Skytop and Millbrook.
There’s plenty more to do in the Gunks than “just” climbing. See James’ excellent trip report from Minnewaska State Park a few months ago for some more photos and information about mountain biking and hiking there and at the adjoining Mohonk Preserve. Extensive information about climbing, hiking and other outdoor recreation in the region can also be found at Gunks.com.