Saturday, April 14, 2007

Gunks- High Exposure 5.6***

High Exposure is probably the most well known climb in the Gunks and is definitely a classic. First climbed by Hans Kraus and Fritz Wiessner in 1941, it went unrepeated for two years because of the intimidation factor. The first pitch ends on this belay ledge and is a bit of a rope stretcher. The two people on the ledge are Angelo Urrico and his wife. Angelo is a guide with Alpine Endeavors and originally from the Bronx's.

The meat of the climb is just off this belay ledge. You have to climb up the corner and out from under the ceiling. It is fun climbing but while coming from under the roof there is about 100 feet of free air under you. It took me a couple of minutes to calm my panic before I went around the roof.

This is a picture just after I came around the roof. You can see Angelo and his wife on the third repel below me.
Definitely my most memorable climb at the Gunks.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Gunks- RMC 5.5 * 1st pitch

Another classic at the Gunks. First climbed in 1948 and my first use of an old rusty piton. This climb included face, crack and a bit of chimney climbing. The belay ledge is above and to the left. The climb continues to the left of the belay ledge.

Gunks- RMC 5.5 * 2nd pitch

A beautiful upper pitch with lots of horizontal ledges for plugging gear.

Gunks- Betty 5.3 **

Betty is a classic. First ascent in 1941 by Betty Woolsey, it is described as a route that involves all types of climbing making it people's first real rock climb.

Marty lead both pitches to the top and set the rope for my mock lead. It was great, I could just sew it up where ever I wanted. The tree above me was the belay ledge.

The Gunks!

If you want to learn trad, this is the place. There are 4 main faces and I climbed on 'The Trapps' for all 3 days. This 'face' is 1.8 miles long and is about 200 to 300 feet high.

The first route went up in the 1940's on quite primitive gear. Most in a ground up fashion. In the 1980's went bolting was introduced to North America, the Gunks established itself as a trad area and no new bolts were allowed, only existing pitons and bolts. No sport climbing here!

I had an absolutely excellent time. The first day I climbed about 5 multipitch (two or three pitch) climbs, all of them Gunk Classics. Day two I started my trad course proper. It started with basic review of placements, anchors and rope work. For the rest of the day I did mock leads and Marty analysed must placements and anchors. That day I 'lead' two 3 pitch routes.

The next day we climbed a Gunks Classic "High Exposure". It should be called Shit Scare or Sphincter Spasm or something that implies the significance of that 'high exposure'. High Exposure is a 3 pitch climb with the crux being at the onset of the 3rd pitch. You climb an easy face to get under a roof. Using an under cling, you step onto a small ledge and reach way out and above to a nice hold you can't see. The problem is that you have about 120 feet of free air under you. This was the scariest 5.6 I have ever climbed.

This is a picture of one my guides climbing High Exposure with his wife. She is sitting on the belay ledge an he is just under the roof section. My hands sweat just looking at this.

After this, I did a mock climb of a 3 pitch route. The placements were few and far between making me run out the climb in places. What an excellent way to get your feet wet for trad climbing.

More pics to come on future posts.