Chris Roams

Travel, Adventures, and Photography

Gunks Climbing

The Shawangunk Ridge (known affectionately as "The Gunks"), just south of New York's Catskills mountains, is one of the oldest rock climbing areas in the country. This is Trad climbing country, the only bolts you're likely to find are at belay anchors and there are still plenty of rusty old pitons that have been jammed in the rock since the 1930's.

During the AMC Boston Chapter's Rock Program we teach students all of the skills they need to follow a lead climber outdoors. This includes all of the knots necessary to attach all the various things that need attaching in climbing, building and cleaning anchors, cleaning gear when following a pitch, rappelling and ascending ropes, and flaking and coiling ropes (lots of flaking and coiling). For most of the students, who by this point have now graduated to become "New Seconds", this is their first time following a real multi-pitch trad climb, as opposed to the little toprope routes they learn on. The climbing grades in the Gunks are old school too, with the routes feeling much harder for the grade than they would be on more recently posted routes. I'm fond of saying that a climber should take whatever grade they climb in the gym and then subtract a grade when climbing outdoors, subtract another grade for climbing on lead, another if it's a trad lead, and yet another if it's in the Gunks.

20170520-1RMC - 5.5-

20170520-2RMC 5.5-

20170520-4Belay ledge party on RMC 5.5-

20170520-13Fabulous rappelling on RMC - 5.5-

20170520-1420170520-17Making a war face on Betty - 5.3

20170521-18Loose Goose - 5.6