October Gunks Camping and Climbing

Boyfriend and I were able to escape the city this weekend and do some much-needed camping and climbing up near New Paltz, NY this weekend. The Gunks is our home crag, although we usually only make it up here when we can wrangle together a crew of seven (enough to rent a ZipCar) and then only for the day.  However, getting up and staying without a car is super easy.  We took a 7:00 am bus out of Port Authority Saturday morning, and after a surprisingly fast ride (only about an hour and a half) we were in New Paltz. After grabbing a coffee and a cab (New Paltz Taxi’s offices are conveniently located at the bus station), we headed to the Samuel F. Pryor III Campground.

Not exactly what I wanted to see, but it made the midnight walk to the bathroom more exciting.

Not exactly what I wanted to see, but it made the midnight walk to the bathroom more exciting.

The ride to the campground cost $12.  Our site was ready when we checked in because we had actually booked for the previous night as well, but rain in New Paltz Friday night made us delay our departure.  Upon check-in, the campground guy told us there have been several bears active in the area fattening up for winter.  Our site, originally a car site, was changed to a walk-in because the walk-ins are the only ones with bear boxes.  (Tip: when making a reservation, be sure to call and let them know if you will require a bear box.)

Our campsite was lovely.  It was a walk-in situated on a lane with four others, but far enough away not to hear everyone else rolling around in the middle of the night.  The facilities in the rest of camp were great — bathrooms, cooking pavilion with an outlet, showers expensive enough to be used when only absolutely necessary — and the only downside was that, instead of having a campfire at your site, there was just one central shared fire pit (although I understand not wanting to burn the woods down).  At $24 a night for AAC/Mohonk Preserve members, and $38 for normies, it’s  a bit more expensive than the average dirtbagger might want to pay, but suited us for our short trip.

Campsite situated on the top of a hill. Lots of trees and also lots of falling acorns.

Campsite situated on the top of a hill. Lots of trees and also lots of falling acorns.

After getting our tent up, it was time to hit the crag!  For those of us without a vehicle, there’s a trail leading directly up to the stairmaster across the street from the campground.  After about a twenty minute hike, we hit the entrance pay table and the stairmaster, and after making our way up that (and realizing that I need to mix some cardio in with my strength training), we were on the carriage road.

Amazing leaves, amazing sun.

Amazing leaves, amazing sun.

It was an amazing day with perfect weather for bouldering, so imagine our surprise to find that the carriage road was almost completely empty.  We started our day down at the Boxcar and Blasted Rock.  Boyfriend warmed up on Blasted Rock V1 and few of the smaller climbs on the Boxcar boulder, while I made my attempts at Blasted Rock and Unnamed BP #3 (a V1 on the Boxcar).  We both took a few burns at Boxcar Traverse.

The rest of the day was spent trying and re-trying various projects.  I worked Goldstone Traverse (a long-term goal), while Boyfriend took a few more cracks at Lynn Hill Traverse (he’s super close).  We drifted toward the front so I could take a few cracks at Clune Crank and my nemesis, Stained Boulder Problem.  Boyfriend basically re-sent everything he tried, so it was a good day for him.  I sent nothing but tried to remain optimistic.

After a night spent freezing my butt off (note to self — bring a sleeping pad next time), we woke bright and early for a breakfast of oatmeal and bananas.  Check-out of the campsite is at 10 am, but the campground was nice enough to let us store our big packs in their toolshed while we went climbing.  Day 2 started with some practice runs at the welcome boulder — topping out is a skill I have yet to master, and I wanted to do a few safe practice runs.  Boyfriend sent Boulder of the Gods, a V0 highball, and I felt out the first moves of it.

Toward the top of Boulder of the Gods.

Toward the top of Boulder of the Gods.

Lovely fall light makes for a gorgeous top-out.

Lovely fall light makes for a gorgeous top-out.

After warming up, I tried my hand at Stained Boulder Problem yet again.  I’ve been able to get the tricky start, and the right hand pop-up, and this time I managed to get into top-out position.  Unfortunately, holding onto anything in the gunks is like grabbing chunks of broken glass, so after struggling both my hands over the lip, my skin and muscles couldn’t take it anymore, and I fell off.  Curse you, Stained Boulder Problem!  I’ll send you yet!  Boyfriend did a quick run of Lazy Mazie (V2) before we started down the carriage road.

We re-tried a bunch of things, with Boyfriend re-sending more, etc.  Boyfriend had a strong start on Dirty White Boys but fell a bit short tossing around the side for a hold.  We went back down to Boxcar to do some more work, and I tried Blasted Rock and Unnamed BP #3 again.  Blasted Rock went (finally), but I fell off another top out on UBP#3 (dang it).  Boyfriend went hard on Boxcar Arete (V8), and I think he’ll get it the next time he comes!  He finished up at Andrew’s Boulder (which, unlike Day 1, was a boulder party on Day 2) re-sent the Buddha and Andrew’s Problem while I chilled, skin and muscles completely dead.

Boyfriend working hard on Dirty White Boys.

Boyfriend working hard on Dirty White Boys.

We hiked back down to our campsite, picked up our packs, and got a ride back into town.  Traffic was insane, but even though time-wise it took a lot longer, the cab was still only $12.  Our driver was a super nice lady who told us all about her granddaughter who is getting interested in climbing.  She also took us on a detour down through historic New Paltz, where we got to see some of the original stone houses.  It was a nice little tour, particularly since we usually blow through Main Street on our one day bouldering trips.  We stopped at Lemongrass to get a Thai victory dinner before catching the bus back to NYC.

All in all, it was a really great trip.  The Gunks has such a wealth of problems, and even though it’s not exactly beginner-friendly, the difficulty and sharp holds certainly makes bouldering other places seem easier, ha ha.


One thought on “October Gunks Camping and Climbing

  1. I love your blog, Summer! This post got me really excited to climb with you guys in the Gunks later this season. Your BF will have to show me the beta on Lynn Hill’s Traverse, that’s on my list too. Good luck with Stained Boulder (so frustrating!) and Clune Crank (so good!)… you can definitely do them both! See you guys soon. 🙂


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