The Near Trapps at the Gunks

Posted: March 9, 2012 by None Smith in Climbing, English, Training
Tags: , , , , ,

If you’re picking up where I left off last time, it’s usually here where the conflict in a good novel comes in. “We were good to go…” could be followed by “or so we thought.” But this isn’t a novel, this is real life. It started so serendipitously that Jamie and I pulled into the gym parking lot at almost the same time. He, his dog Kaya and I jumped into his car and off we went for the gunks.

We made it to New Paltz in no time. We arrived and stopped at the local convenience store for a quick sandwich before heading a little further to the main parking lot for the cliffs. As we got out of the car, stuffing our faces with bacon and eggs, the air nipped at our bare faces. We both brought up how much colder it felt than we expected. “Best to get walking, I suppose,” I said to Jamie, thinking that the approach to the cliff would warm us up nicely. Before heading out though, we had a quick look at our gear. We decided to use Jamie’s rack, grabbed the rope, and away we went.

The Gunks are divided into a number of cliffs, the most popular called “The Trapps”. It’s approach is a long, 8 foot wide gravel path called “under cliff road”. Compared to many rock climbing spots, this spacious path is luxurious and therefore can host the most people. It’s almost like an outdoor climbing gym. I’ve not experienced it during the summer and fall months but apparently you can expect to wait in lines at the bottom of the crags, and sometimes waits can be as long as an hour. On a Sunday in early March though, we had the place practically to ourselves. That day, we decided to try out the “Near Trapps” or simply, the “nears”. With a trail more reminiscent of a hiking trail than a grand gravel path, the ‘nears’ is the second most popular climbing cliff in the area. The most remote and least popular is Millbrook.

We reached our first climb. It was a right facing corner called “Eenie Meanie” and had a beautiful orange coloration to its rocks. Gunks ratings can be quite stiff and this one was a 5.6. (See the Wikipedia entry for the Yosemite Decimal System rating system and how it compares to other rating systems.) We looked at the climb for a while, noticing a lot of flakes sticking out of the corner. Jamie led, and as we had suspected, many

Gear.

of those flakes were hollow sounding and precariously loose. I followed, cleaning the gear and getting some sun on my back. We got up to the first belay station and rapped (rappelled, not sang rhymes) back down to the path. It was an okay climb, but the first belay station was under a washing machine sized rock balanced on smaller rocks. We decided to turn our sights to more classic climbs.

Yum Yum Yab Yum. No, I’m not talking about delicious breakfast sandwiches. YYYY is the name of 5.4 gunks climb that is quickly gaining popularity in the nears. Starting out on an easy slab, it reaches a thick pine tree before going vertical. And oh, for a 5.4, it goes vertical. My first really vertical climb was Horseman’s (5.5) back in December. It was the end of the day, my hands were freezing cold, and the steepness of the climb was still quite intimidating. Getting that vertical this time was just plain fun. A great 5.4 with tons of jugs to hold

Jamie leading the first pitch of YYYY

onto, if you take a minute to turn around, it’s well worth the view. And that’s just pitch one! I can’t imagine what we could have seen from pitch 2 or 3.

From there, we went to meet some of Jamie’s friend’s who were on a “workout wall”. What they meant was they set up a couple of top rope routes so they could work out, not worry about falling, and try some harder climbs. It was coming up on 1 pm at this point and we took the camaraderie of fellow climbers to sit down for a minute and eat lunch. Tuna fish sandwich, some homemade energy bars and coffee from a thermos – out in the wilderness it’s the little things that make life more pleasurable.

As we ate, Jamie looked through the guidebook. We were sitting right in front of a 5.8 called Farewell to Arms. This climb, while 5.8’s are a breeze in the gym, turned out to be a climb with a lot of committing moves and a corner that wants to spit you out. When they say that the ratings on Gunks climbs are “stiff”, they mean it.

Comments
  1. […] The Near Trapps at the Gunks (Ugh, we ❤ the east coast…) POSTED BY NORM RASMUSSEN If you’re picking up where I left off last time, it’s usually here where the conflict in a good novel comes in. “We were good to go…” could be followed by “or so we thought.” But this isn’t a novel, this is real life. It started so serendipitously that Jamie and I pulled into the gym parking lot at almost the same time. He, his dog Kaya and I jumped into his car and off we went for the gunks. […]

  2. Ethan Zook says:

    Ah, trad leading. So fun, yet so terryfying…

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