McCarthy Wall Mostly climbing67 routes in area
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Access issues inherited from Shawangunks
The main cliffs at the Gunks are The Trapps and The Near Trapps. The Trapps is several miles long, and ranges in height from 30' to over 250'. A convenient gravel carriage road traverses under the cliff for its entire length, and designated access trails climb from the carriage road through the talus to the cliff. Access to most climbs at the Trapps involves hiking along the carriage road for 5 minutes to a half hour, followed by a short hike up to the rock. Some of the climbs on the left end of the Trapps start right off the carriage road. Parking exists at the Mohonk Preserve and day passes are required for entry.
The Nears is also a popular destination, with climbs ranging in height from 30' to 200'. While not as extensive as The Trapps, the Nears offers many excellent routes with short approaches. The near (north) end is most popular, but there are good climbs farther down the cliff as well.
Around 2000, the Mohonk Preserve installed around 40 two-bolt belays spread out among routes in the Trapps, Nears, and Lost City. There is one dedicated rappel line, just north of High E, which can be rappelled with one 50m rope.
Millbrook is more remote and offers adventurous climbing for those wanting to get off the beaten path. This area is frequented more by Gunks locals than first-time visiting climbers. The approach is roughly an hour along pleasant rambling trails, and Westward Ha! is worth the walk!
Sky Top has many classic routes, and was closed for over ten years by the landowner (the Mohonk Mountain House, an exclusive and expensive resort). As of April 2007 climbing is LEGAL at Sky Top once again - IF, and only if, you are there as a client of their only approved guide service, Alpine Endeavors.
Peterskill, in Minnewaska State Park, is another popular Gunks climbing destination, offering single-pitch climbs, top-roping, and bouldering. Follow directions to The Trapps and continue on Rt. 44/55 for about a mile past the steel bridge to get to the park entrance. A separate admission fee is charged.
Other Gunks climbing areas, such as ?? and Bonticou, are under-documented by local tradition. Climbing here is by word of mouth; go with a Gunks local or perhaps get information at Rock & Snow, the local climbing shop in New Paltz.
Ethic inherited from Shawangunks
Due to the abundance of horizontal cracks and the limited number of vertical cracks, most Gunks routes have "PG" protection: adequate but not great, although many gear ratings were applied before small cams were invented. The horizontal cracks are great for small Tricams: the pink and red are especially useful. Small-to-medium cams with flexible shafts also work well. Climbs rarely need pro larger than 3". Hexes are not often carried, but sometimes work well.
Fixed pro is sometimes available, but many of the pins are "old and rusted and shouldn't be trusted". Bring a screamer or two for the questionable pin or bolt.
A "Standard Rack" for the Gunks:
a set of micronuts (RPs, HB offsets, BD micro stoppers) - very often useful for 5.10 and above. a set of wired nuts (#3-#13 BD Stoppers or equivalent) black, pink, red, and brown Tricams (some climbers double up on the smaller sizes) blue, green, yellow, gray, and red Aliens (or equivalent) #.75, #1, #2, and #3 Camalots (or equivalent) 10-12 extendable runners (24" sewn slings) 1 or 2 long runners (48" sewn slings or rabbit runners) A Yates Screamer
Additional gear that is useful on some climbs:
extra cams in the .5" to 2" range - very useful for new Gunks leaders a very small cam (black Alien or equivalent) a large cam (#4 Camalot or equivalent) a set of Trango Ball Nutz (#1, #2, #3). There are several 'new' moderate routes in the Nears, put up by Dick Williams and partners, which rely heavily on Ball Nutz for protection; caveat emptor. larger Tricams (purple #2, black #2.5) medium-sized hexes (BD #6-#8)
The amount of gear that you carry will depend on the climb, your experience, ability, and familiarity with the route and with the Gunks. If you're new to the Gunks, err on the side of taking a little more gear rather than a little less.
Many routes can be climbed and rappelled with a single 60m rope. Double ropes can be handy, however, with the traverses, wandering pro, and roofs encountered on the typical Gunks climb, and come in handy to descend in fewer rappels.
Many popular routes have bolted rap stations, but sometimes trees are used for rap anchors. Bring some webbing along in case you need to beef up a sling anchor on a tree.
Two-way radios can be useful for communicating past the big roofs often encountered on Gunks climbs. High Exposure, Disneyland, and especially Shockley's Ceiling are routes where radios can be much more effective than shouting.