Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Shore to Summit: Back to the Gunks

Last Friday I kayaked with Tony and Walter. Today I climbed with Dan, a fellow Guide at EMS SoHo. Water and rock within four days! Ninety-six hours from Jamaica Bay to the Shawangunks! Sweet! Maybe I should rename my blog shore to summit?

I left the house around 8:00 AM, picked Dan up on the upper west side a little after 9:00 AM, took half an hour to get out of Manhattan, stopped at the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center so Dan could purchase a day pass, parked, walked along the Carriage Road to The Trapps, and set up below Horseman before noon.

It had been seven months since I last climbed and I was sure my bones and muscles were going to be a little rusty. Nevertheless today started out to be a beautiful day, warmer than predicted, and the rain held off, and the muscles and bones still worked, at least for a while.

Todd Swain, in The Gunks Guide, describes Horseman as “A classic Gunks Climb.” It is only rated a 5.5 with excellent protection, but after a seven month climbing hiatus a 5.5 was about all I wanted to lead. I led it in two pitches (that's me on the first pitch in the photo to the right) and for the first time since upgrading my rack over the winter not only placed my new Camalots and new tri-cams for the first time, but placed tri-cams and Camalots for the first time ever as I did not have them on my rack before. Dan ably followed and cleaned the route. We sat on the belay ledge for a while soaking in the sun, enjoying the breeze, and looking out over the fantastic view. The only spoiler was the sound of an occasional vehicle on the road below. After basking in a climb well done we rappelled down in two raps as my 165 foot rope did not reach all the way to the ground from the rappel anchor.

We then moved right to Ken’s Crack, another Gunks classic, and a 5.7 with good pro. Dan led the climb (that's Dan leading Ken's Crack in the photo second right) even though he is fairly new to leading. I followed to the second piece of pro but spent so much time hanging by one arm or another trying to get the pro out that I had to come off the climb after my arms turned to rubber. Dan cleaned on rappel and spent about five minutes with a nut tool working the stubborn stopper out of the crack. No good gear should ever be left behind if it can at all be retrieved.

We then walked back toward the car and parking lot but stopped on the way to climb Picnic, a 5.4+ with pretty good pro. Dan led and I followed. We rapped down, packed up our gear, and just as soon as we started walking out along the Carriage Road it started to sprinkle. The front edge of the light rain we had seen moving up the valley had finally arrived.

All in all it was a good day. Two climbs for me, three for Dan, and seven rappels for my rope with no leader falls. Yep, it was a good day to climb and a good day climbing. Maybe I will go kayaking again this coming Friday.

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