May 27, 2013
SO the weather here in New York FINALLY let up. It's been raining every weekend for the past month. It was raining for three days leading up to yesterday and I was still looking at the forecast at 9pm the night before deciding whether or not to go ahead with the trip.
I decided to go for it, and the weather turned out to be great, the rock dry.
The Gunks is my home crag and of the popular cliffs a great deal of beta is available - whether from people, a bunch of guide books, here on MP, etc.
But there are just as many "outlaying" cliffs that are traditionally undocumented, a decision made by locals BITD to preserve a sense of adventure when climbing there. This ethos is held onto today and reinforced at least partially by the Mohonk Preserve itself as these areas are considered to be more environmentally delicate; the lack of guidebooks and written beta keeps the traffic down.
For my turn with the Travelling Stopper it only made sense to embark on an unknown route (so to speak) so my partner Juliana and I set off for a crag neither of us knew a damn thing about: Bonticou. I knew where to park, and had half an idea of how to hike in- and that was it.
The approach was long for gunks standards but a nice hike.
| || the trail in |
After a while the trail got steep and we were huffing and puffing a bit but it finally spit us out onto a carriage road and the path leveled out.
| || Juliana, caffinating |
After a while, the imposing darkness behing the trees on our right started to become more and more evident and as we got closer and the trees thinned out a bit the cliff began to peek through the greenery.
| || there it is |
We found the footpath off the carriage road leading to the cliff and soon found a path along the base of an enormous talus field. Right away, we spotted a clean white face with a nice triangular roof that we decided would have to be our first stop.
Scrambling over the enormous talus was interesting. There are boulders the size of cars nestled among boulders the size of small houses. I can't imaging what it would be like to see one of these things part ways with the cliff 150' above and come crashing down.
We worked our way to the base of the arete/roof/clean face and began to rack up.
| || through the monster talus |
| || definitely do-able |
| || The arete and roof |
The first line we took was up the arete a bit, onto the right face, and up to the top. A fun warmup lead. Second to last piece placed was the subject of our cause, the traveling stopper itself.
| || sinker T.S. |
The view from the top is worth the effort to get there.
| || catskills |
| || Juliana on the way up, T.S. second piece from top. (I know the draw on the yellow cam looks like it's facing the wrong way- I came up on the other side of it). |
Later in the day we came back to this spot and my friend Ian decided to go up the dihedral to the left then under the roof to the headwall on the right. This was an easy line made exciting by all the giant loose blocks that were wobbly enough to be "off".
| || carefully up the loose dihedral |
| || around the point |
On the way down we spied another good looking line that wound up looking super thin on gear for the first 20' or so so we set up a quick toprope and took turns lapping that.
Then we came across a shorter (50-60'?) line that starts with a big step across with hands in a flared crack. Spicy for the first piece or two, then it mellowed out to the top.
On the opposite side of the cliff we saw what turned out to be my favorite line of the day.
Best I could do was the pic below. If you locate the pine tree bottom left, you'll see the top of the tree points directly to a crack. We went up that crack to the white rock under the first roof on the left, exit roof right, up to the little triangular roof, exit right, up to the big triangular roof (top right), exit left and to the top. This was ~130' of fun climbing with good gear. Unfortunately I didn't find a place for the T.S. on this one.
| || from the crack near the top of the pine tree, up to the small triangular roof, left to the top. |
After a bit more poking around we decided to head over to another crag, Lost City. Lots of hiking and scrambling got us through another extraordinary talus field and to the cliff. Gorgeous pink and orange rock with an uncharacteristically high volume of vertical cracks for the gunks.
With daylight waning we finally settled on a line that looked doable for us. Hand crack up about 15', to a flared offwidth about another 15-20' to a stance, finger crack for 10-12' then some easy jugs to stout tree for belay/rap.
No pics of the route, sorry for that. However, while getting directions to this crag while packing the car back at Bont, I managed to throw my harness in the back seat instead of my pack. Figured that out after getting to the route. So with only one harness, Juliana brilliantly belayed my lead off a tree.
| || tree belay. it was bomber. |
The flared OW scraped me up and almost spit me out and the finger crack threatened to do the same. With a .75 C4 in at my knees and another 12' of jamming to go and a pump starting to set in and a complete lack of crack technique or confidence (we don't have many vertical cracks out here) I decided to just go for it. There was a sort of mini-jug at the top of the crack and I just made it. Would have been an ugly whip but I'm glad I went for it.
We got back to the car just as it was getting dark, very pleased with the day.
The T.S. only got placed once, but it was the first pitch of the day, it was a crucial piece on that route and it was totally bomber.
So, first to ask for this thing gets in line behind NorcalNomad, who is in the middle of a trip now. If I can contact him and get an address it's going that way.
If I can't get hold of him by the end of this week I'll send it to whoever queues up next.