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YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 500'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: John Turner, Brian Rothery, and Wilfried Twelker, 1959
Page Views: 13,078
Submitted By: Chris Duca on Dec 4, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (74)
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BETA PHOTO: Not a great photo; looking up at pitch 4.

  • Access is limited in the spring and summer due to peregrine falcon nesting; so there are some closures. Checking with the Adirondack Climbers Coalition or the NYDEC can provide the closure status.
  • Peregrine closures and approach trail issues MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    Gamesmanship is one of Poke-O's oldest and finest routes.

    Begin the route in the right hand of two handcracks behind a nice, large birch tree.

    Pitch 1:
    Technically, the route's crux is the first 15 feet of climbing and consists of insecure (read: slippery) jams in a fist-size crack. Once past this section, expect endless jamming in an impeccable crack to a bolted anchor. (5.8+ / 140 feet)

    Pitch 2:
    Continue up the left-facing corner above and belay at the dike on a comfortable ledge. (5.7 / 120 feet)

    Pitch 3:
    Easy does it up the broken rock above until it is possible to trend right up less-than-vertical rock to clump of trees on a spacious ledge below a left-facing corner. (5.4R / 100 feet)

    Pitch 4:
    A great pitch. Move out right and climb a pure handcrack that slices through the airy face above. The crack will end, but continue up much easier terrain to a lone white birch tree on a small, but comfortable belay ledge. (5.7+ / 140 feet)

    Pitch 5:
    A pitch of much less difficulty leads up the clean, open slab above to the top. Belay at the trees. (5.1R / 150 feet)

    Getting Down:
    From the top of the route look down and to the right. There is an island of trees at the cliff's edge with a slung tree to rap the route. Walk across and down the open slab to the trees. 3 rappels with two 60 meter ropes will deposit you on the ground.


    Roughly 120 feet to the right of the large, grassy Positive Thinking area.


    A standard rack with several #2 Camalots and a couple #3 Camalots for the first pitch. Two Cordolettes, and two 60 meter ropes to rappel the route.

    Photos of Gamesmanship Slideshow Add Photo
    Crux start of Gamesmanship
    Crux start of Gamesmanship
    Pitch One
    Pitch One
    Amount of rope left from a 70 m rope after partner...
    BETA PHOTO: Amount of rope left from a 70 m rope after partner...
    The good clean fun of Gamesmanship, P. 1
    The good clean fun of Gamesmanship, P. 1
    Ben Botelho follows P1 of Gamesmanship(5.8+)
    Ben Botelho follows P1 of Gamesmanship(5.8+)
    Looking up Pitch 2 from the P1 belay.
    BETA PHOTO: Looking up Pitch 2 from the P1 belay.
    Unknown climber starting p2
    Unknown climber starting p2
    Pitch 3 from the P2 belay
    BETA PHOTO: Pitch 3 from the P2 belay
    An unknown climber cruising up the first pitch of ...
    An unknown climber cruising up the first pitch of ...

    Comments on Gamesmanship Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 25, 2015
    By tuscanes
    From: rosendale, ny
    Dec 19, 2007
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    On the pitch 3 description....I think you meant to trend RIGHT to clump of trees.
    By Chris Duca
    From: Havertown, PA
    Dec 19, 2007

    I sure did...thanks for catching that!
    By Michael John Gray
    From: Queensbury, NY
    Aug 23, 2008
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I thought Pitch four was harder than two! I see you caught that too. Cool!
    By Derek Doucet
    Jun 10, 2010
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    An excellent first pitch and a good 4th pitch are detracted from by uninteresting and unaesthetic climbing on pitches 2 and 3. I'd give P1 4 stars and P4 3 stars, but none to the other pitches, and so the route as a whole only 2 stars.

    Better to do P1 and rap, then do the Sting and Green Onion to take in 3 excellent 5.8s. IMHO, the only compelling reason to do the entire route is because it provides a moderate way to get to the top of Poko, which is admittedly a rare thing!
    By Peter Lewis
    From: Bridgton, Maine
    Sep 20, 2010

    Outstanding jamming (except for the choss of the third pitch). A couple of notes about the rappel. You can do just two rappels with doubld 60s, but, it involves about 40 feet of 4th class downclimbing on the blocky dike rock between rappels (dangerous). A much safer alternative is to make one short rappel (about 40 meters) from the tree island at the top to a fixed anchor on a small ledge on the steep wall. Then make a second rappel down through the dike-rock to the next anchor, and then a third to the ground. Be extremely careful on the last rappel, however--twin 60's JUST make it (tie knots and use an autobock backup). If in doubt, stop at either of two other anchors about halfway down the last rap.
    By ddriver
    From: SLC
    Sep 27, 2011

    I thought pitch 2 was just as good as pitch 4, neither of which in any way compares to pitch 1. Nonetheless, a very worthwhile outing.
    By Simon Thompson
    From: New Paltz, NY
    Nov 14, 2011
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I would definitely double up on BD #1 and #2. I had a #4 and was fine without having double #3s.
    By Benjaminadk
    From: San Pedro, California
    Feb 14, 2013

    as a side note. pitches 2 & 3 AND 4 & 5 can be linked with a 70m rope if u move the belay at the top of p3 up and right to the base of the "Ski Tracks" pitch. (easily done because this section is a large ledge)
    By Kevin Heckeler
    From: Upstate New York
    Jul 27, 2013
    rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

    Opening moves on P1 are 5.8ma

    Otherwise great climb with every possible jam/crack technique in my tool kit used. I agree with P2 being 5.7-ish, and the ski tracks on P4 were difficult and felt there might be a few 5.8 moves (found a couple spots during the hand jam were as difficult as the climbing on P1). 5.7++ perhaps. Pitch 5 is probably 5.3-ish near the top, otherwise 5.fun . Being solid on slab helps a lot with the runout.
    By Derek Doucet
    Jun 11, 2014
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Public Service Announcement:

    As of 6/10/14, there are two softball sized but square loose rocks 2/3s of the way up the second pitch. They are almost completely detached, and one is covered with chalk. Both are directly in the line of ascent, and could even conceivably be dislodged by rope movement. I wasn't able to trundle them for fear of hitting others in the area at the time, and so had to settle for avoiding them and placing gear to keep the rope away from them. If the area is clear, they could very easily be dropped.

    By Sam Fox
    May 25, 2015
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Climbed Gamesmanship Saturday 5/25. This was my first rock route at Poko-Moonshine and my first time actually climbing crack. I loved it. Worthwhile multipitch climb for the weekend warrior.

    • Gear Beta
    I carried a single rack from .2-#4 C4's. I did not wear tape gloves, I think that I probably should have since my hands got pretty chewed up. I ended up placing my 1,2,3, &4 before I got to the top of the offwidth/chimney. Above the offwidth chimney you need a #2 or #3 to protect the last 25' or or so. It's easier terrain (.7) but because I had no gear, and because I had not placed in the hollow rock in the back of the offwidth/chimney, I ended up doing a 40' runout at the top. Character building material. A single rack was more than sufficient for every other pitch, and there was a bomber .2 placement right off the anchor on the last pitch which protected the belay (but really it's really low angle slab so you can just sprint up it).

    • Rappelling
    First off, what's the deal with the main rappel line? Are quicklinks so expensive that we just run cord straight through the bolt hangers? And just allow shitloads of old tat to stack up? The main rappel line could use some community service for sure.

    I would suggest carrying two ropes if you plan to rappel Gamesmanship. If you only have a single rope make sure it's a 70m with knots in the ends and you have a prussik on for the first rappel. The first rappel is down and climbers left from the top, off some cord around a big pine tree. With a 70m you can get down to a point that is about 15' climbers left of the next rappel station. I did an easy tension traverse over and clipped myself in. From here we rappelled down to the large ledge above p2. There are three rap stations on this ledge, one on a tree on the upper left side, one off bolts on the lower left side, and a second one off a tree on the right side. Unfortunately I could not reach any of these rap stations so I elected to build a quick gear anchor, belay my partner down to the bolts, and then down climb.

    • Loose rock on the rappel
    From the second rappel my rope went directly over p3, right where some other climbers were heading. To avoid any conflict I flicked my rope to the climbers left of the broken tower. I rapped down and spotted a perfectly parallel #1 crack between what looked like really well anchored rock. I gave both sides of the crack a good knock, tossed in a #1 and gave it a tug. This 300lb+ block on the right side swung open like a door in the wind. Luckily it stayed put. I quickly adjusted my position so I was well away from it and found a good .75 crack. From the bolts there were two decent rappels that got us easily to the ground.
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