Monday, December 16, 2013

A Worthwhile Appeal

If you are a climber you know how important it is to preserve access to the public and private lands which host our prized crags and cliffs.  You should also know there is an organization whose primary mission is to maintain access to climbing lands through advocacy, education, land acquisition and much more - that organization is The Access Fund.

The Access Fund is running a two-day "sale" of sorts on its membership, which is vital to its mission.  If you aren't already a member now is a great time to join.  If you are a member and it is time to renew, you can get 20% off your membership renewal.  And finally if you are a climber (or not) and want to see the mission of the Access Fund carried on, please consider a gift membership for someone you know who climbs and may not have a membership.

Click here to see more about the Access Fund and their special offer tomorrow and Wednesday.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Got Gunkified. Again.

The Gunks is truly one of the best places to climb in the world. It must be. It has to be! Well, okay - so I haven't climbed all over the entire world. So what. There are probably hundreds of "best places to climb" out there - but I bargain the Gunks is one of them.  Once again, we were rewarded with 4 beautiful days of weather, and now the weather is turning wet and cold. Perfectly timed I'd say.

No long winded stories in this post - just some photos, captions and brief anecdotes to summarize some of our highlights of the trip.

First climb of first day - Asphodel, a 5.5 corner we had never been on and heard was worth doing.  The highlight of this climb was the huge black rat snake that fell from the sky with a THUD!  I was lacing up my climbing shoes, stood up to tie in and just behind me I heard the alarming sound of something hitting the ground - at the time it sounded like someone's shoe! It startled me so and I was about to yell up to climbers above who I was sure were at fault, when I glanced over to see this huge black snake coming out of its shock, shaking itself and slithering quickly past Annie and down the stones on the trail.  We estimate this snake to be about 3 to 4 feet long and plenty thick.  While not poisonous, we stayed out of its way. That was a weird experience. Glad I had just stepped forward from my shoe-up position otherwise it might have landed on me!

Some memorable climbs (all repeats and well worth it): Arrow, Something Interesting. Bonnie's Roof. Yellow Ridge, and Gelsa.  Annie lead some pitches on Ribs,  Gelsa and Sixish.

Annie cruising up the last pitch of Gelsa in the Near Trapps.
This climb was first ascended by Fritz Wiessner in 1942.

The last pitch traverse on Bonnie's Roof. One of the great "photo op" climbs.
Check out the National Geographic website link to compare photos. Where are my royalties?!? First climbed in 1952 by Bonnie Pruden and Hans Kraus (who handed her the rope as his attempt was unsuccessful!)
The National Geographic website features this same photo op - click here to compare

Yes, another good photo op climb, The Yellow Ridge at the Near Trapps.
Another big traverse on face holds before heading up through the overhangs above.

A bad example of a fixed anchor top of pitch one Sixish. 3 rusty pins, 2 sections of webbing, one on the
 2 pins to the left and the other on the pin to the right, NOT equalized. Worse yet, an American Triangle
setup through all 3 pins with tiny cord and a weird triangular hardware link I have never seen before.
Caution: Falling Rock Climbers Ahead!

A new sign is posted on a tree as you walk into the Near Trapps cliff area.

What is up with this sign? What is it supposed to be warning us about?

Gravity - we saw the new Sandra Bullock movie GRAVITY in 3D while in New Paltz.  A real nail-biter and must see if you like that kind of thing.  I do wonder what my aerospace engineering friends think of it though!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nervified: To Be Nervous

Annie has been on a theme lately, making up her own words and tenses to embellish modifiers.  She likes to take a word like "dirty" and transforms it to something such as "dirtified" - Example in a sentence: "Darn, I got my shirt all dirtified!"  This has become almost a fun game we play, although admittedly, Annie is winning.  Recently we were driving up towards some road construction and there was a bright orange warning sign
that read "Scarified Pavement Ahead"
You might imagine the laughter which ensued as we considered how SCARY it would be to drive on this pavement - or better yet, how sorry we were that the pavement felt so afraid of something!

As climbers, we tend to set personal goals for ourselves by working towards climbing a certain grade (difficulty) or classic route on a big cliff.  A "Tick List" might be created to record our accomplishments and keep us motivated.  I have had my sights set on doing a classic, beautiful and challenging route in the Adirondacks called "Upper Partition".  This route is a large and prominent dihedral feature (inside corner) high on Upper Washbowl in the Chapel Pond pass.  I love how this cliff towers above the pass - you might climb only 3 or 4 vertical rock pitches but once up there you feel (and are) much higher and remote.  I've posted plenty on this blog about the climbs I've completed up there including Hesitation and The Wiessner's route - and the photos tell the story of the beauty from that perspective.

Having been on the list for years now, the time came to finally tick Upper Partition.  I tried hard not to get myself too worked up about it (it is rated 5.9 and looks steep and intimidating despite its magnetism - it begs to be climbed.)  I've gotten myself over-prepared and hyped for challenging routes by studying forums, guidebooks and talking to other climbers who have done the route.  This only builds the anticipation and fear (AKA "nervification"). It can also set you up for disappointment (I was quite disappointed when I first climbed High Exposure in the Gunks. I had made it too big a deal in my mind prior to the onsight).  But I digress.....

I had this on my schedule for a long time, hoping for the right conditions. The day was right. The weather forecast perfect. The climbing partners (Annie and Valerio) both willing, able and excited to go and climb it.  And at the end of the season I am climbing about as good as I am going to get this year, so strike while confidence is high.  A very early morning rise was mandatory to make this work in a day trip - but it was worth every minute.

We made record time on the approach (usually 30 minutes, we hoofed it in closer to 20 minutes for fear the parties behind us would beat us to our desired route).  The plan was to climb the Wiessner's route to the big slanting ledge, then finish on Upper Partition.  In short - the plan worked. Flawlessly.

Valerio took the sharp end for pitch one of Wiessner's. The infamous block move 40 feet up is awkward and strenuous - the stuff I hate because it is rated only 5.6 but feels MUCH harder when you are in the thick of it!  When Annie and I climbed this route earlier this summer we found that crux move very unpleasant. I tried to the left of the block, then the right, then back left (see August post Back to School).  Valerio did a nice job of climbing up onto the block from the right. Annie followed suit. My turn - with the benefit of a top rope I had nothing to lose. I still could not get comfortable with that strenuous movement so I found another way! I don't mean "going off-route another way", I mean I found a different technique to use to climb up onto the block and it worked beautifully! Not awkward, not especially strenuous and eliminated the need for the dreaded "belly flop"!  I won't give it away here in case there is a reader/climber intending to onsite this route.  But I look forward to going back and leading it again with my new technique - a welcome relief! But I digress.....

Upper Partition!!! Well I was plenty worked up, but worked hard to keep calm.  In Annie's language, I was nervified.  I knew this corner would be challenging, but I embraced it.  Knowing it has protection throughout is a comfort.  Even if it is harder than you anticipate you can keep it relatively safe with good and plentiful gear placements. I would say this climb packs plenty of 5.9 punch - there are rests on small ledges and stems between featureless sidewall sections - perhaps even a little more so than Frosted Mug (Beer Walls), Dark Shadows (Red Rocks), Hospital Corner (Lover's Leap, CA) or Recompense top pitch (Cathedral Ledge, NH). But the moves felt hard and there were no "easy" sections.  And although the technical crux is at the bottom third, the toughest section in my estimation is the top out through an overhanging offwidth crack.  The protection was excellent though, with smaller gear deep inside the offwidth.  The higher I climbed the less nervified I was. It's a little like stage fright or fear of speaking in public - once you get started the jitters work themselves out.  I think feeling  "nervified" serves its purpose - keeps you paying attention and prevents complacency.

Valerio got some photos with his phone and I will update this post when I get more from him.  I've posted the 2 best ones I have for now.

To Valerio and Annie: THANKS for being there for me and helping to squelch my nerves - what an honor and pleasure to climb the route with you on such a gorgeous day.  The climb is now checked off on the tick list and I no longer have to suffer being all nervified!

Valerio just before surmounting the block crux on Pitch One of The Wiessner's Route

Pretty good perspective of the huge corner of Upper Partition.
Annie belaying (or pretending to?) and Jean near the top, almost there!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Reverse Pay Back?

Heading up The Perfect Pint
What is happening with this weather? I cannot remember such a stretch of sunny, mild weather through September.  We had rain on 3 days the whole month - very unusual.  Is it some kind of reverse payback for all the lousy, rainy, hot and humid weather we had most of the summer? If so, gimme more of that for the month of October!

Fun at Deer Leap yesterday - met some very nice folks while climbing our last route.

Perfect Pint.

Photo credits: Casey Krevetski (Thanks Devin!)

Check out the colors behind Annie

Thursday, September 19, 2013

West Comes East: Part Two

Part One with Randy was all Gunks. We drove back to Vermont with the plan to get a rest day, then climb some at our local crag before heading to New Hampshire for the top pick venues - Rumney, Cannon, Cathedral, Whitehorse.

Monday - Rumney! Randy loves sport climbing. All he talks about is sport climbing with the Goldwaters! Goldwaters this, Goldwaters that! Alright already! We get it that you sport climb a lot with the Goldwaters! The Goldwaters aren't here so you'll have to climb in Rumney with US!

We typically avoid Rumney on the weekends (crowding is the norm, one I find extremely distasteful). So Monday was the perfect day to hit Rumney.  Louise met us to round out our foursome and we had great day at the Main Cliff walls.  We had hoped to climb a long route on Cannon Tuesday but the weather started to turn. With a forecast of 50% chance of T-storms in Franconia Notch, we thought we might be able to get on the single pitch cracks at the base of the wall so as not to be over-committed. But by Tuesday morning the forecast had degraded further. A quick stop for coffee and pastries at the local cafe and off to Rumney again to try to tick some routes before the rain.  By the time we left the parking lot of the cafe it was starting to spit rain.  We made a not-so-mad dash up to the New Wave Wall and found the overhanging Couch Potato route (among others) to be bone dry.  Randy and I jumped on that while Annie lead up Orange Sunshine around the corner.  Since that route is less than vertical it was getting wet fast.  Needless to say our climbing day ended after one route with the rain falling steadily by the time we pulled the ropes.  Hmph!  Louise headed back home and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch in Plymouth at the Six Burner Bistro.  The air got warmer and by Wednesday morning, you could feel the heat and humidity building.  I'd guess a record must have been set as the mercury peaked at 92 degrees with humidity maxing out at 97%.  This makes climbing difficult and not so pleasant  But we eked out a few nice routes at Jimmy Cliff and retired a bit early to the Baker River for a swim and apres beer.

By end of that day the weather forecast continued to deteriorate and we abandoned our plans to continue east to North Conway.  The systems were rolling in from the west and the longer range forecast looked better west - AKA The Adirondacks.  So we booted our house-sitter out early and went home to dry out Randy's tent and gear, clean the van, do laundry and repack.  We had hoped to climb Friday but it rained off and on all day! It was beginning to look bleak for climbing again before Randy was to head back west to Denver.  Yet with our trusty 4th at the ready (Carol from Springfield) we chose to take our chances in the DAKs Saturday.  Wow, was that ever the right decision!  Our friends the Perez's said it was rainy and wet in North Conway still Saturday and when we got into the Chapel Pond Pass in Keene Valley the skies were still cloudy but all was dry.  Our best bet for dry rock seemed to be slab, so off we went to the big Chapel Pond Slabs (a mere 2 minute walk in from the car).

Annie leading up Pitch One, Regular Route
Other parties were ahead of us on The Empress and only one party was already started up the Regular Route, so that is the one we chose.  As we climbed the fun easy slabs the weather improved - the sun was shining and the temps were near perfect.  The views from the slabs are outstanding as you ascend some 775 feet up the rock and get eye-level with Upper Washbowl.  We followed a nice couple (Alex and Katie) up the route and enjoyed each other's company on the not-so-fun descent (north gully walk-off).

We merrily scooted our way up the slabs for a couple of hours, topping out with the sun shining warmly, taking the bite out of the cool northwest breezes.  The Regular Route is tons of fun with some interesting cracks breaking up run out slab sections.  In hindsight, I think you could take double cams in the 0.5 to 2.0 size and need little more than that!

Heading up Pitch 2. That's Bob's Knob, the steeper section way above on the right horizon line

Thanks to Carol for climbing with us and taking these photos! Oh, and thanks for the Subaru, too!
My 2 favorite climbing partners, Annie and Randy (don't tell Randy though)

What a bunch!!! (L to R: Randy, Annie, Carol, Jean)

The descent gully dumps you out at Chapel Pond. That's Alex in the blue helmet and Katie on the far right!

Monday, September 16, 2013

West Comes East: Part One

One of our climbing buds from Colorado came to visit for a couple of weeks and I wanted to provide him with a climbing tour of the Northeast's renowned climbing areas.  Impossible to hit it all in that time so I chose to give him "The Select Tour." Gunks - Rumney - Cannon - North Conway. Turned out week 2 gave him a clear perspective of the weather challenges we face here in the east, quite unlike his customary semi-arid climate in the Front Range of CO.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed exceptional weather the 1st week in the Gunks and he was rewarded with ascents of some of the most classic routes.  Here is a pictorial review.

Randy's Intro to Gunks on Jackie Day One

Day One: Dennis, Jackie, Classic
Day Two: High E, CCK, Cakewalk
Day Three: Limelight, Arrow, Strictly From Nowhere
Day Four: Frog's Head, Ken's Crack, Laurel
All Days: Beer Thirty apres climb (IPA style!)

Randy loves leading.

Randy is not afraid.

Randy hates photos of him following.

Randy loves a strong IPA, just like me.

Randy drinks a lot of beer and coffee.

Randy is fun.

Randy talks a lot.

Randy REALLY liked the Gunks!

Randy placing gear before the crux move on High Exposure. Sling it lllllong and have fun!

Well after the crux up on the short, steep wall above
Here he is stepping up into the crack/flake

CCK is short for Cascading Crystal Kaleidoscope. The final pitch of this climb is truly exciting with a long traverse and lots of exposure.  It is significantly harder than High E and best of all, provides the belayer with a great photo-op!

On Limelight. There is also a scary traverse on this route!

Strictly From Nowhere - a steep corner finish completes this fun and interesting line

Wow, looks hard Randy!

Beer Thirty at the van
We left Friday afternoon for Vermont.  Time to meet Annie, clean up, reorganize and have a rest day before Week Two.  

I'll be posting Part Two soon.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Google Account Hacked

FYI to all subscribers and readers, my GMail account was hacked overnight.  Looks like they were able to hack into the account from an IP address in Germany and the phishing email went out early this morning from an IP address in the Ukraine.  If you receive any messages from my gmail address claiming I need money, please ignore them. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Note the activity from Germany and Ukraine

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Climbing Cousins

Yesterday Annie and I hosted my cousin's son (I think that makes us first cousins once removed?) Christopher for a day of climbing.  Chris has experience climbing indoors and sport climbing outside, but has never really done much traditional climbing and was interested in learning more.  With the weather forecasted for afternoon T-showers, we thought it best to stay relatively close to home. So Deer Leap was our venue of choice.  We arrived at the base of the Main Wall ready to do The Center Crack when it began to sprinkle.  By the time Chris was climbing the route it was raining quite steadily.  We thought our day was going to start and end quickly, but fortunately, the showers passed and the sun returned and the rock dried quickly.  While we waited for a little drying time we did some ground school with gear placements. Moments later we were back on the rock.  Here are a couple of pics of Chris climbing in style (and posing well, too!)

Chris cruising up the final moves on a 5.10 variation of The Monkey

The day would not be complete without a visit to the pub. We chose The Long Trail Brewery pub and each enjoyed a fresh Long Trail brew of our choosing.

Thanks Annie and Chris for a fun day!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Aiding and an Italian

Last weekend served up spectacular late summer weather. Clear skies, temps in the 70s and cool (but not cold) nights. Perfect for a trip to North Conway.

SATURDAY: Introduction to Aid Climbing, by world-renowned climber Mark Synnott . This was a full day of learning a whole new way to look at climbing.  Aid climbing involves climbing up the rock face by ascending the gear you place in the rock instead of climbing the rock and placing gear for protection.  For any non-climbing readers, a primer can be found here.

This surreal photo of Mark Synnott is the result of
my camera lens not opening all the way. Cool!
While I do not aspire to aid climb regularly, I wanted to gain knowledge and skills in this genre of climbing to add to the tools in my toolbox and perhaps get myself out of a pickle when free climbing.  Mission Accomplished.  One thing Mark said we would learn once we each practiced the techniques he taught us is whether or not we are placing good protection.  When we traditional free climb we are constantly placing cams, nuts and other protection pieces in the rock to protect ourselves int the unfortunate case of a fall.  This takes knowledge and lots of practice and the variables that affect whether or not that piece will hold if you fall are many.  But since we rarely fall we aren't really testing our placements and while we might THINK they are good (will hold if we fall on them), there is no way of really knowing.  In aid climbing, you test each placement BEFORE you use it - once tested you can stand up in nylon ladders called etriers and fully weight the piece.  I was pleased to test successfully on all of my placements when aiding a finger crack climb called the Slot.  In fact, my highest 2 pieces needed to be later retrieved by my partner because I was not carrying a tool to dig them out of the cracks. Sweet!

Two participants in the Aid Clinic (Kristy and Brian). Notice how they are standing up
 in their etriers or aiders. The ropes above them are top-ropes
 to protect us as we learned (ordinarily they would not be there)
SUNDAY: Valerio and I needed to select a multi-pitch route to do together.  Since I had not climbed the big slabs in a long time (and as a result feel less comfortable climbing slab these days) we agreed to try a route on Whitehorse Ledge. So we climbed the Cormier-Magness route which runs up the far right side of the slabs.  This route was developed last August - it sports healthy Whitehorse runouts and bolts just when you need them - nice, new shiny bolts! Refreshing on Whitehorse where many bolts are old and rusty and in desperate need of replacement. No pics yet of this climb with Valerio - awaiting his phone pics. I highly recommend this route - Pitches 2, 3 and 4 are very good and the rest is typical of Whitehorse slab so not of any lesser quality (nice work Paul and Chris!)

What a great weekend - thanks to my Italian friend!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to School

Old School. Sandbagged. Hard for the grade. Kick-ass.

Annie at the base of the last pitch.
That's the big 3rd class ramp she is on.
All terms of endearment for a climbing route that is harder than the rating implies. There is a feature article in Climbing Magazine this month about sandbagging.  I have climbed quite a few of those routes.  This past weekend we went back to the Adirondacks to climb with Toby and Hanna on Saturday and to tick off the Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl on Sunday.

Hence the topic of sandbagging - old school routes.

Yup. The Wiessner Route is rated 5.6.

There is only one crux in all of the four pitches. - and it is a very awkward 5.6 crux - figure out how to climb up and onto the rectangular block

Topping out

 I tried it to the right because it LOOKED easier.
A lot of time spent figuring this one out and getting extremely frustrated.

Uh-huh: that's old school 5.6 - Wiessner style!
Hanna working some magic on one of the variation starts to Tillman's Arete
Annie demonstrates her impressive strength at our campsite

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Week in the DAKs

We took a week off and headed west to the Adirondacks recently. Fortunately, the weather changed from high heat, humidity and T-storms to quite pleasant summer temps.  We vowed to get some rest and relaxation in this time, instead of climbing every possible moment.  At this age resting is imperative, lest the body (and the mind) really fail you when you most need it on the rock.

The highlight of the climbing week was a repeat climb of "Hesitation", the classic central route on Upper Washbowl cliff.  A John Turner 5.8 with plenty of spice, a fantastic setting and gorgeous views of the Chapel Pond pass.

Hesitation is marked by the red line. P1 is the physical and technical crux,
 but P2 is the psychological crux
Annie at the belay of Pitch 1, under the double roofs
View of Chapel Pond from Pitch 1

Another view, slightly south shows the Chapel Pond slabs

Pitch 4 is great climbing and the top out with blueberries and view is hard to beat
 Some rain the next day provided a good excuse to rest our weary bodies and head to Lake Placid on our way to our next camping spot.  I was eager to try the Lake Placid microbrews and was rewarded with a glass of their stronger beers, the Peregrine Perch Imperial IPA.  Our waitress made a special request to the brewmaster when I ordered it, because they had ostensibly run out of this brew the day before.  I guess he had a small batch set aside and agreed to sell it to us. YUM!
Sporting my Heady Topper T-shirt with a Peregrine Perch

Our plan was to try out a cliff we had never visited before, so we camped in the lakes region to have quicker access.  The crux of the climbing at Azure Mountain is finding it!  We drove Blanche along the 17.5 mile road, 13 miles on gravel/dirt with some minor wash damage and fallen branches to navigate.  The guidebook claims a 15 minute approach to the Equinox Face, a section of cliff lower on the mountain.  We followed the "faint trail" through the dense woods until we could no longer decipher a trail.  Needless to say with the lateness of the day (we didn't get to the trailhead 'till 2:30) and the lack of any clues, we opted to hike out before we got really lost (there was a period of several minutes when we were unsure which way we had hiked in!)  I suppose Azure Mountain will need to wait for another day.

I spent time as a young kid and again in my early 20s visiting my godfather and backpacking in the Long Lake area.  I so much wanted to see Long Lake again so we headed back to the Keene Valley via routes 30, 28N and the Blue Ridge road just south of the high peaks.

Black fly bites on the right side of my neck
Note the swollen bite behind the left ear
 An afternoon at the Beer Walls (a climbing area in the Chapel Pond pass area) served us well to practice more crack climbing and unexpectedly run into friends Valerio and Toby from New Hampshire.  The black flies dined on my neck and ears at the end of the day, proving that the Adirondacks still win the prize for the full effect bug experience!

We invited Valerio and Toby to join us at the Barkeater Cliffs Friday, where we met up also with Louise and Oscar.  The hike in is mostly on a ski trail providing for side-by-side social hiking and conversation.  We were able to get on most of the classic moderates including Mr. Clean, Fun City, Big Bertha, Yakapodu, Dough Boy and more.  Valerio brought a nice digital camera with a telephoto lens and got some GREAT photos - I thank him for sharing them so they could be posted here!

During the trip we also revisited the arete climbs right on the pond (Tilman's and Shipton's) and when in the Keene Valley we typically end the day with a swim in the pond and usually a cold brew.  Life doesn't get much better.

Social hiking into Barkeater
A super fun route, Yakapodu, on the far right side of Barkeater. Annie is about 1/2 way up
 the climb - Valerio's telephoto lens oddly changes the perspective of a 100' route!
I've said it before but it does bear repeating: The Adirondacks are truly wild and beautiful.  The 46 High Peaks are rugged and majestic and I can no longer name the peaks as I see them from the flatlands.  Many of the highest peaks surround the Keene Valley where we tend to do the most climbing. I really ought to learn them so I know what I am looking at.  At least I can say what I am looking at is "spectacular" (or any other number of similar modifiers.)  Thanks DAKs, for treating us once again to an awesome visit!
I am not sure where he was standing when he took this photo.
If I were to guess I'd say that is the Wolfjaws just left of center?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

40 Days and 40 Nights

So here in New England (all of the East in fact) it seems the higher power has decided to start over (wipe us out).  It has been raining everyday for over 2 weeks, at least in my estimation.  I guess this is better than the 110 degree days in the southwest or the uncontrolled fires wreaking havoc and destruction.  We did have some flash flooding nearby and are lucky we dodged a bullet again.  Other survivors of Irene were not so fortunate - like an outmatched boxer knocked down again just when they got back up on their feet. Sucker punch???

Annie heading up at Deer Leap
Needless to say this weather makes climbing a special challenge, but we have managed to get out and find some dry routes.  Today, I was able to snap these photos of Annie on some dry rock at Deer Leap in Killington pass

Monday, May 20, 2013

Crack Me Up (They Died Laughing)

Only time for a quick post now, to be embellished when time permits.  The weather was perfect for a weekend of crack climbing in North Conway.  Saturday with Rosie, Louise and Annie - we met Matt Ritter and climbed the cracks at the North End of Cathedral Ledge (North Conway, NH) all day.  Sunday Annie and I climbed Toe Crack which on that day was aptly renamed "Toad Crack" as I encountered a camouflaged toad in a horizontal crack about 1/3 of the way up!  Here are a couple of pics of They Died Laughing, probably one of the best 5.9 cracks in the area.
Annie hiking the crux

Starting up
Get your foot in where it widens to make it reasonable

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gettin' Gunky

Just back from a full week at the Gunks. Early almost spring-like weather carried through the entire week. I am most grateful!

Carol and Louise joined us for the first couple of days.  It is always too much fun when the 4 of us get together. Laughter, chit-chat, microbrew sampling, eating and of course climbing!  Congrats to Louise who lead her first Gunks 5.8 - she picked a fine one - the classic Arrow.  It was a beauty of a day, although there were some gusty winds to contend with on the higher pitches.  Making the crux move at the very top of Arrow required waiting for a brief respite from the wind.

A nice lunch break at the base of the Arrow wall
CC introduced us to an indescribable local eatery we had not visited before "The Main Course" on Main Street in New Paltz.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  All locally raised Hudson Valley foods, organic and expertly prepared.  They are chiefly a catering outfit, but they have plentiful tables for dining onsite and it is BYOB so you do not have to spend an arm and a leg for alcohol!  We liked it so much we went 3 nights in a row.  If you are ever in New Paltz be SURE to stop in and see all they have to offer.

As for the rest of the week and our climbing, we enjoyed many repeat classics and a few new routes.  The most exciting was a line first climbed by Hans Kraus and Bonnie Prudden in 1951 - it is aptly named "Hans Puss".  We were sure to embrace all 3 pitches and are glad we did.  Route finding is the crux of this route.  The first pitch weaves its way up a steep and overhanging wall between 2 much more difficult climbs - Supper's Ready 5.12 and Feast of Fools 5.10 - so don't go off route!
Annie coming up to the steep and exposed section on Pitch One of Hans Puss
Pitch 2 traverses across the face in a slightly contrived fashion, then you head up over a couple of fun overhanging sections. The guidebook calls Pitch 1 5.6 and Pitch 2 5.7 - they both felt about the same in difficulty to me although very different climbing.  The final pitch, rated only 5.5, was also challenging and wild.  You first climb a short and awkward offwidth crack in a bulge of rock right off the GT ledge, then walk 15 feet across another ledge and up a large corner system. As you reach the top the climbing gets tricky and you have to figure out a hand traverse under another overhang to reach the top of the climb. Wild!  if you climb at the Gunks and have not tried this route, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it! Do all three pitches!

Still havin' fun Gettin' Gunky