Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another week in the Gunks

Got back last night from another week in the Gunks with Chris, one that was just as memorable as our last trip, but often more for the way our plans didn't work out than for when they did.  Still, the unexpected turns often brought us better experiences than what we had set out for, and I certainly learned a lot in the process.  Rather than focusing on just the highlights like last time, here's a day by day breakdown of our mishaps and those moments that made them worth it.


The Failure

Getting to camp and seeing the shape it was in after the 4th of July weekend.

This is just what people were nice enough to leave by the sign, since they couldn't be bothered to pack it out like they were supposed to.  Not pictured is the equal volume of trash that was randomly scattered across the rest of the campground.  We kept hoping that it wasn't climbers who were responsible for this, but the fact that anyone thought this was acceptable blows my mind.

The Redemption

We had the campground almost to ourselves again, and got to enjoy some delicious salads and beer at Bacchus.  I've now had four of their house brewed beers, and have loved them all.


The Failure

With all the rain the night before, conditions were really wet and we didn't get to climb until late afternoon.

The Redemption

Wet days are fantastic for walks, and taking the trail up to the Mohonk Mountain House made me feel like I had stepped into a Tolkien novel.

Once there, we took the Labyrinth walk up to the tower, weaving our way through some crazy rock formations and boulder piles, and finally squeezing out the top of "The Crevice" for some beautiful views of the valleys from the slabs above.

Despite not getting back to the car until late afternoon, we still managed to get in a quick session at the Trapps, where I led Nosedive and made a toprope attempt at No Solution before realizing that I was too tired for climbing and should probably head to Bacchus for more beer and a few games of pool.


The Failure

Taking 4 hours ground to ground on a 180 foot climb, then only getting in one more climb before thunderstorms hit, despite the day's forecast for 10% chance of rain.  Leaving my tent flaps open because of the low chance of rain.  Campfire plans replaced by torrential thunderstorms.

The Redemption

The climb that took us forever was MF, put up in 1960 by Jim McCarthy, Roman Sadowy, and Claude Suhl. Often called the most classic example of Gunks 5.9, it was my first real experience leading the big roof moves that the area is known for, and the thought of doing it over 50 years ago was sobering.  Part of what took so long was my insistence on repeatedly climbing into and back out of cruxes, although Chris pointed out that at least it spoke well of my endurance.  MF was also the site of my first unrecovered (now fixed) gear, which rather than listing as a failure I'm choosing to view as a right of passage, and at least I have the knowledge that it was a solid placement.  Fittingly enough for the location, it was a pink tricam.

Even the turning weather didn't entirely ruin the afternoon, especially when we were still able to fit in a dip at our favorite swimming hole in between storms.

Our postponed campfire plans also turned out okay, since we were able to sit out the worst of the rain with delicious German food at Mountain Brauhaus, and tried an incredible saison from the relatively new Yard Owl brewery.

To top it all off, our campsite was sheltered enough that I even had a dry sleeping bag at the end of the night, and fell asleep comfortably to the sound of rain and thunder above.


The Failure

Completely chickening out on my plans to lead anything hard.

The Redemption

Doing a lot of great moderate routes, including kinds of terrain I'd never experienced before.  We started the day on Bill Shockley and Doug Kerr's 1953 classic Shockley's Ceiling.  Chris linked the first two pitches, during which a copperhead kindly ran away from him when he pulled up to a horizontal only a few inches away.  I got to lead the final pitch, which had really fun movement through a short overhang and up a corner to a great hand crack finish.

Chris did a quick lead of Something Interesting (Hans Kraus, Ken Prestrud, Bonnie Prudden, 1946), which follows 140 feet of beautiful crack up to the GT ledge, with huge feet most of the way.  Even with the final crux wet, the moves were straightforward enough, and it was fun to have that long of a continuous climb.

The other memorable climb that day was V-3, another Kraus, Prestrud, and Prudden route from 1954. Again, something I was really glad to have modern equipment for.

The moves up the initial crack were easy enough, but my momentum stalled a bit when I was placing what seemed like my first solid piece, and an odd buzzing and angry looking wasp face led me know that there was a nest under construction a few inches into the pin scar.  From there, a stretch of chossy rock and a few awkward corner moves led to a flaring chimney.  I'll admit I was questioning the route's classic status for most of the way, but once I was wedged into the chimney it was one of the most fun places I found myself all week. Too bad it wasn't longer!

We finished the day with Chris leading a really fun, and way too short, finger and hand crack called Finger Locks or Cedar Box, then toproped a couple of face climbs to the right, which seem to have been eliminate versions of Hyjek's Horror.

We also finally had a dry night, and grabbed a round of taco yumminess from Mexicali Blue before picking up some wood and settling in by the fire for the night.


The Failure

Pumping out and having to rest on my warmup, Red Cabbage.

What should have been a really easy crack and face climb took a downturn when I struggled to make a shallow nut placement work off a hard lockoff, then realized I was getting tired and instead of pushing through to better holds decided to waste time slotting a second piece right in front of me.  Poor planning, and also unnecessary, since as soon as I was hanging there I saw a perfect green C3 placement about a foot below the small nut.  At least next time I'll be able to get up pretty quickly.

The Redemption

Wanting to get in a few more routes before getting on the road, we walked down the road and toproped Jacob's Ladder, climbed by Phil Jacobus in 1960 as the first Gunks 5.10.  The direct sun made it a little slick, but even in good conditions I would still have been glad for the toprope, and apparently Jacobus led it onsight.

We finished with a toprope on the Chockstone (a.k.a. Pebbles) boulder, which had a really fun looking slab that I had been eyeing up every time we walked by.  I don't know the names of any of the routes, but we did the obvious crack, the right arete, and the right face without the arete.  All were fun, and there seemed to be plenty of other variations aside from the ones we did.

A few hiccups along the way maybe, but it was still a great trip.  Not sure what's next up, but we still have lots of summer ahead of us!

Here's the full list of what we climbed this time around:
No Solution (TR attempt)
Shockley's Ceiling
Ribs (TR)
Something Interesting
Hyjek's Horror (2 eliminate variations on TR)
Red Cabbage
Jacob's Ladder
Chockstone (a.k.a. Pebbles) Boulder (TR on center crack, right arete, and right face without arete)

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