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Gunks for Memorial Day
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By Sam Stephens
Feb 28, 2012
Top half of Melifluous

My girlfriend and I are thinking of coming to New York to visit some friends who live twenty minutes from the Gunks, but we're not settled on a date. We were thinking of Memorial Day weekend but we weren't sure about the crowds. How bad are the crowds on Memorial Day weekend versus the weekend before that? Thanks in advance.


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By Ksween
From Wakefield, RI
Feb 28, 2012

If youve never been to the gunks you have no idea. But imagine a giant climbing gym with almost 500 climbs and you have to wait in line for every one 5.9 and under. Dont forget to keep an eye out for falling noobs, biners, cams, nuts, water bottles and other random items.


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By Seth Derr
From harrisburg, pa
Feb 28, 2012
Hey there!

Yeah it'll be a shit show Memorial Day weekend for sure. In fact it's pretty much a shit show every weekend. Take that and add a third day and its shitshowitiveness multiplies exponentially. Go during the week if you can.


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By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Feb 28, 2012
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.

The only noticeably busier holiday at the cliff is Columbus Day. Typical three days weekends locals leave or visit family for cookouts and such. Meanwhile, out of towners come, canceling each other out.

There is a huge difference in dayhiker/mountainbiker/runner traffic. This congests the parking lots. Prepare for stress, especially if you're not used to it. This feeling rapidly dissipates when belaying on the GT Ledge, looking out over the valley, and watching vultures fly by at eye level.

DL


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Feb 29, 2012

Hike to Milbrook or the end of the Nears and things are much better.

But parking will be an issue, and the crowds will be pretty wild on the closer, classic stuff.


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By divnamite
From New York, NY
Feb 29, 2012

Sam Stephens wrote:
My girlfriend and I are thinking of coming to New York to visit some friends who live twenty minutes from the Gunks, but we're not settled on a date. We were thinking of Memorial Day weekend but we weren't sure about the crowds. How bad are the crowds on Memorial Day weekend versus the weekend before that? Thanks in advance.

A normal weekend is usually more busy than a holiday weekend. A lot of people travel for long weekends when the kids are out of school. I've been to the Gunks during holiday weekends a few time and generally was surprised by lack of crowd. Also, the Nears and Milbrook are usually pretty dead if you don't mind the walk.


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By Jon Clark
From Philadelphia, PA
Feb 29, 2012
onsight soloing Atman

Is this your first visit? If so, I would strongly urge you not visit on Memorial Day weekend. The crowds could potentially mar your experience and consequently your impression of the area. The place is without question pretty frigging awesome. However, with the crowds come posturing, posing, barking/screaming of belay commands, whooping, and route congestion. Routes rated hard 10 and up are usually unoccupied even on busy weekends, but many are difficult to protect and tend to be very serious leads.

On another note, identifying climbs and access trails for the climbs from the carriage road is not a trivial exercise for the first time visitor (especially with leaves on the trees). It takes awhile to get to know the place and is more enjoyable to figure it out without gaggles of noobs, posuers, and tourists crawling over every inch of the crag.


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By cms829
Feb 29, 2012
high e

Geeze. its not that serious. Im at the gunks mostly every other weekend at least during the rock season. Does it get crowded? Sure. Every major crag does. If your in the area you should still come and experience it if youve never been! Who cares about waiting 20 minutes to get on a classic climb (although sometimes you will have to wait longer, or find something else.) Its totally worth it. Its a great crag with great climbs and great people. The people are half the fun. Hang out with everyone waiting and your bound to make a handful of new friends. Or go for a walk and find something a little less crowded, although they will typically be the harder climbs. And hard gunks....is pretty hard.


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By focus
Feb 29, 2012
High on Cathedral Peak, Tuolumne

divnamite wrote:
A normal weekend is usually more busy than a holiday weekend. A lot of people travel for long weekends when the kids are out of school. I've been to the Gunks during holiday weekends a few time and generally was surprised by lack of crowd. Also, the Nears and Milbrook are usually pretty dead if you don't mind the walk.


This has been my experience. I went last Memorial Day dreading the crowds, but to my surprise it felt relatively quite.

Perhaps it was an anomaly, not sure, but one of my partners, a long time gunks veteran, says it is common due to what the above quote cites.

The busiest I've ever seen it though was in fact on a holiday weekend - though a Canadian one where it seemed like half of Canada made the drive down. Forgot which one.

You'll have fun either way. Great place.


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By cms829
Feb 29, 2012
high e

alpinejeff is right! whatever that canadian holiday is! Thats the absolute busiest weekend in the gunks every single year! Its an invasion!


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By Matt Davis
Feb 29, 2012

Columbus Day in the United States, and Thanksgiving Day in Canada, are both on the second Monday in October. The New Paltz Film Festival is on Saturday evening that same weekend, or at least it was last year. So that weekend is usually the busiest weekend in the gunks each year.


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By Brian
From North Kingstown, RI
Feb 29, 2012

Ksween wrote:
If youve never been to the gunks you have no idea. But imagine a giant climbing gym with almost 500 climbs and you have to wait in line for every one 5.9 and under. Dont forget to keep an eye out for falling noobs, biners, cams, nuts, water bottles and other random items.


Hey Kevin...I have to call BS on this and similar comments. You can walk along the bottom of the cliff on the most crowded weekends and jump on a climb without waiting in line. You may not get on the three star classic but you can always get on a fun quality climb. I've walked along the bottom and found climbs like Arrow open on crowded weekends. Walk way down in the 480-490 range of climbs and there won't be anyone there. Lots of climbers tend to congregate close to the Uberfall.


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By Brassmonkey
Feb 29, 2012
Brass monkey

If you plan your day out accordingly parking and waiting won't be much of an issue regardless of how busy it is. Everytime I have gone up to the Gunks I have never had a problem with parking. However to do this my usual partner and I hit up the bistro at first light for breakfast and then head right over. This also helps with jumping on some moderates to warm-up on the carriage trail before the masses arrive (think watching the sun rise across the valley from atop horseman). Depending on how hard you climb we rarely find a line at a 10 or harder climb. If you are thinking 5-7's however and not getting an early start, good luck.


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By Brassmonkey
Feb 29, 2012
Brass monkey

Brian, good point about the non-classics. I was thinking of the more popular climbs when I said good luck on the easier climbs.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Feb 29, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

I wouldnt worry about the crowds of people, worry about the crowds of black flys that weekend.

Otherwise there usually isnt an obnoxious amount of people, just walk further down the carriage road and you should have no problem finding quality routes. Also the "nears" on the opposite side of the road tends to be much less busy, especially the further down you walk.


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By Matt Davis
Feb 29, 2012

I believe walking further down the Nears involves trespassing. Better to walk around the top and then down on the marked trail at the end of the Nears.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Feb 29, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

From what i understand its only trespassing for hunters and such? Those are the only signs posted in that one section. Doesnt say anything about hiking through but im not sure. Never heard it wasnt ok to just walk at the base.


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By Matt Davis
Feb 29, 2012

As far as I know it was completely closed and hasn't been reopened. That's the way it was posted back when it closed in 2009 and that's the way it was announced online. I believe this closure is also posted on the Mohonk Preserve website and the Access Fund website.


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By PosiDave
Feb 29, 2012

Check out one of the smaller areas at the Gunks and climb at them. Or hike to Millbrook. If single pitch/bouldering is your thing you can explore the "other" areas and have no issue.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Feb 29, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Matt Davis wrote:
As far as I know it was completely closed and hasn't been reopened. That's the way it was posted back when it closed in 2009 and that's the way it was announced online. I believe this closure is also posted on the Mohonk Preserve website and the Access Fund website.


We are only talking about the area past what is covered in the guidebook right?


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By Matt Davis
Feb 29, 2012

Nope. It's smack dab in the middle of the Nears.


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By Adam Fernandez
From Matawan NJ
Feb 29, 2012
Pinnacle Gully in the background

Matt Davis wrote:
Nope. It's smack dab in the middle of the Nears.


Ah ok yea thats the area I was thinking of.


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By Keith Perry
Feb 29, 2012

The nears closure starts at the climb eenie meenie and extends approx 200 feet south.Please don't tresspass.


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By MojoMonkey
Feb 29, 2012

Matt Davis wrote:
Nope. It's smack dab in the middle of the Nears.


From the preserve's alerts

4/13/09-Changes to climbing access in Near Trapps
A landowner whose property adjoins Mohonk Preserve in the Near Trapps has decided to post his property with No Trespassing signs. This is in addition to previous postings by the Preserve to show climbers when they are leaving Preserve lands.

Even though access to climbs in this area was open via an informal trail for many years, it was never an official entry sanctioned by the Preserve. Please respect the landowner's right to post his land and to ask climbers to no longer traverse it.

The posted signs start at the area of the climb "Eenie Meenie" and continue to the climb "Nazgul." Climbers who wish to access climbs south of "Nazgul" will need to either rappel in south of "Nazgul" or proceed on the Millbrook Ridge Trail south to the intersection with the Bayard's Path, then travel east through Smede's cove to the southern end of the climbers trail at the base of the Near Trapps.




I wouldn't worry about it, there is tons of other climbing and access is easy over the top if you want to get down there.

Just be flexible and you'll be fine. There is no reason to queue up for any specific climb. Just keep walking and hop on something open.


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By JohnWesely
From Red River Gorge
Feb 29, 2012
Gunking

Jonathan Clark wrote:
Routes rated hard 10 and up are usually unoccupied even on busy weekends, but many are difficult to protect and tend to be very serious leads.


This is incorrect. 5.10 is the Gunks grade.


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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Feb 29, 2012
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard

It is hard to know how crowded the Gunks will be on a major weekend. Some years, the outflow of local climbers exceeds the inflow of visitors and the place is surprisingly empty. Other times, not so much. Still, chances are it will be less crowded the weekend before Memorial Day. A lot depends on the weather, of course.

In any case, you should ignore the extreme warnings about crowds. Yes, it can be crowded, but not on the scale some of the posters are saying. If you read the guidebook and have a few back-up options when your multiple-starred route is packed, you'll be fine. Have a look at the Hidden Gems thread on gunks. com, gunks.com/ubbthreads7/ubbthreads.php/topics/7590/1 for some possibilities that will be less crowded.

There are also quite a few areas that are undocumented that will not be crowded. Go into Rock and Snow and ask about crags you could visit that will be less crowded. You will have to be a bit more adventurous for such areas, since there won't be a guidebook to lead you by the hand.

The crowds fall off exponentially in the Near Trapps as you head South from Birdland. There are lots of excellent short one-pitch routes and some longer routes that are good as well. It is true that you'll have to stop at Eenie Meenie if you are heading South from Birdland because of the private land closure. Climbs past that are accessed by hiking along the top and descending Smede's Cove; you will probably want to get some hints from the folks at Rock and Snow for that too. Some excellent routes down there, with Mainline a multi-star classic.

It is true that you can go to Millbrook and probably find no more than one or two parties on the cliff. But you should be warned that the cliff is rather remote, the rock is steep and unforgiving, the access is by rappel, and the routes don't have fixed pins or bolts and often not even chalk to tell you where to go. The routes are more demanding than the trade routes in the Trapps (not necessarily harder, but requiring more old-fashioned trad skills).

Although crowding on the climbs should be manageable even in the Trapps, parking might be a much more serious issue. The West Trapps lot and the "Stairmaster" Lot may well be closed by or before 9 AM. This is because the area will see an influx not only of climbers, but also hikers, and cyclists. You can usually find spaces at the Visitor Center lots, but you'll be a bit further away from the crag.

If you opt for Millbrook, you'll be parking at Minnewaska State Park. The park doesn't open until 9, and fills up really quickly with walkers, cyclists, picnicers, and others. When the lots fill up they close the park and you have to wait on a line to get in, but you have to be there at 9 (well, before 9 because there will already be a line at 9) if you are going to Millbrook, which involves an hour walk there and back.


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