Sunday, April 08, 2007

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.

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