|By Bill Hutchins
From Bethesda, MD
Sep 27, 2007
This post was originally a comment in Seneca Rocks
I have made several trips to climb at Seneca this summer. It is a terrific area. I love the Gunks, probably my favorite rock climbing area, but Seneca, where the south peak can be reached only by 5th class climbing and there is some 4th class but very exposed scrambling, has a bit more of a feel of mountaineering to it.
A couple of friends and I have done several of the easy routes, including Gunsight to South Peak (spectacular arete climb with a very exposed first move onto the west face), Conn West Direct finish (OK but not spectacular), Thais (very fun, we did a third pitch variation that included a tricky traverse left) and the Burn.
Do be aware of the possibility of loose holds. On my first day at Seneca, I pulled a block about the size of a microwave off while leading the top move on Gunsight Notch East. I thought I had given it a good tug to test it, but when I used it to layback, it started coming right at my face. I went right and the block went left (I think I might have pushed it a bit) falling harmlessly to the ground (the block, my top cam held me). My second swears the block was the size of a refrigerator, but I belayed him up with my feet in the hole it came out of, so i am pretty sure it was only microwave size. Anyway, assume every hold is suspect until you have tugged at it and whacked it with the heel of your hand. It is amazing how many of the holds ring or otherwise sound suspect.
On a later trip, we topped out just as the last light of the day was fading. We rappelled by moonlight (aided by our trusty headlamps). As I rappelled, I turned my headlamp off to get the full effect of descending into the darkness. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had in the mountains.
We are headed back this weekend, hoping to do Green Wall or maybe Conn East.