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Thoughts on the Gunks
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By The Coop
Oct 29, 2012
Although I wouldn't consider myself a true Gunks aficionado, meaning I haven't climbed All of the routes here, I've come to realize that the place isn't all it's cracked up to be. For two years now I've been making weekend visits and have managed to climb the best of the 3 star routes all the way up to the 5.11 range (followed some of the hard stuff). Now, I'm sure there are plenty of one star hidden gems out there that are great once you've done all of the classics, but my climbing experience tells me that there are probably not any as good as Doubleissima or Trans-con. I've climbed at Lost City about a half dozen times and did a majority of the areas good top-ropes and leads including Lost City Crack, Resistance, Forbidden Zone, Red Route, Persistence, and even a few hangs on Survival.
Now that you've seen my Gunks climbing resume. Here are my thoughts.
A. Gunks routes are hard but easy and often boring in-between the action
B. Routes aren't as steep as they look from the ground. (Again, lots of 5.3 between cruxes)
C. Lines are long for the best routes
D. Prices are insane!
E. The Uberfall routes are lame. Especially Horseman, which is god awful sandy at the top
F. The Mac Wall is a zoo and very mediocre compared to other high end sporty areas I've
I've climbed. I've climbed 10's at T-Wall
G. There is an overall lack of adventure to be found.(some say Millbrook is cool despite
it being a chose pile) I haven't climbed it but I did take a piss off it once!
H.
I.
J............This list could go on forever.

Despite these negatives, there are some positives too.
A. Hard stone. Never loose on the classics. (unlike at T-wall)
B. Amazing views.
C. Few bolts. Keepin it rad!
D. Friendly rangers
E. Bomber gear (almost always) even though it is spaced you can build nests
F. Grades are on point once you get used to them. Sorry locals, there not that stiff.
G. One word DOUBLEISSIMA

This isn't a troll. i'm bored and stuck in this god forsaken city until the storms over and then moving to Boulder. Peace Gunks. Good times and rad adventures!

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By Glenn Schuler
From Monument, Co.
Oct 29, 2012
A grey fox skull wedged in a crack 100' up on a FA I was working on - don't see that every day...
This would have fit perfectly in the crag blasphemy thread.

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By Kiri Namtvedt
Oct 29, 2012
I was there in '97, and had such fond memories that I have wanted to get back for years and finally made it happen in Sept of this year... and I'd have to say that it did not live up to my fond memories. Oh it was fun, don't get me wrong, but I'd agree with your assessment of "boring stuff between the action", and I'd add that the constant roar and groan of traffic in a big section of the Trapps was unpleasant. Also, yeah... not super adventurous. I did enjoy being able to climb multiple pitches of trad, but then again there are other places that offer this experience with much more wilderness feel.

I thought Horseman was fun!

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By matthewWallace
From plymouth, nh
Oct 29, 2012
Cool movement on this line
If the Gunks let you down that much I would love to hear about where you have been climbing that is so much better :)

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By Eric Engberg
Oct 29, 2012
The Coop wrote:
If the Gunks let you down that much I would love to hear about where you have been climbing that is so much better :) Yosemite, The Dacks, Squamish, NRG, T-Wall, Eldo, Moab, Verdon Gorge, Devils Tower.........


I haven't been to Squish or Verdon - they are on the short list - but I have been to the other areas on your list and to me the Gunks don't take a back seat to any of them.

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By Gunkiemike
Oct 29, 2012
>> If the Gunks let you down that much I would love to hear about where you have been climbing that is so much better :)

> Yosemite, The Dacks, Squamish, NRG, T-Wall, Eldo, Moab, Verdon Gorge, Devils Tower.........

When you've climbed those other areas every weekend for two years, post up about how you're bored of them too.

In the meantime, get yer lazy butt out to Millbrook.

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By John Stannard
Nov 17, 2012
Coop:
I have done some climbing in the Gunks but have not been back for nearly thirty years. The rumors seem to imply it is getting crowded so your post may be something we need more of.

Thanks for the help!

jstan

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By Alex Washburne
Nov 17, 2012
I eat crack for breakfast.
Yeah, the Gunks is horrible. For the next 3-4 years (while I'm still living relatively close to the Gunks), I would advise everybody to steer clear of that over-priced, over-crowded, over-rated wannabe destination. :D

Blessings in disguise:
1) overcrowded --> learn how to love other climbers & how to climb respectfully when others are present (a valuable trait since classics everywhere are getting crowded).

2) Prices --> reduce crowds

3) boring in-between --> learn how to climb hard on gear as you recover and build nests on a bomber stance before the next crux.

4) lack of adventure to be found --> focus on climbing and getting stronger, not route-finding or impending doom. Save the adventure for another time out West when you're stronger on gear (thanks Gunks!) and where you can be as off-route/cold/far-from-help/worried-of-afternoon-storms as you please (adventure!).

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By mozeman
Nov 17, 2012
Eldo still sucks

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By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Nov 17, 2012
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.
I'm not sure of the Gunks are the best bad crag or the worst good crag - but I call it home and I don't think there's a better place to live.

The season is long, there's other stuff to do besides climb, the powerful climbing keeps ya in shape for trips elsewhere, the stone is so bomber it holds falls on micronuts, the nature of the cliff lets you just walk until you find an open route, it feels like an adventure if you're on the right route at the right time, and the after work access is incomparable making it easy to rope up 100+ days a year and still have a rewarding career.

DL

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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Nov 17, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!
I like the Gunks, and would be psyched to have them as a local crag. It's about on par with the New or Chattanooga area as far as quantity, diversity, style of climbing, and length of season goes. I don't really think it's fair to compare any of these areas to excellent granite areas (Yosemite or Squish) or excellent sport areas (the RRG). Rather, they're just all-encompassing face and roof climbing areas that are rad.

However, the big thing that the Gunks lack that Chatt or the NRG have is sport routes. The best way to get stronger and more solid at trad is to build your strength on sport, so I would be afraid of just getting fat, weak, and stuck on 5.11s if I lived at the Gunks.

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By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Nov 17, 2012
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.
Camhead sounds like he's talking about me - and dozens of others =)

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By S. Neoh
Nov 17, 2012
I agree with a lot of what camhead wrote.
For a weekend warrior, Gunks can be annoyingly busy and this has been the true for many years now, not just along the crag but the roads too!
Hoping that Skytop will once again be accessible to all at a reasonable price!

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By mozeman
Nov 17, 2012
Personally I could never compare the gunks to the new or chatty.Especially when talking about length of season, you can climb in certain areas of the new in december if sunny (such as pirates cove and surrounding area.....and chatty is a primary winter destination on the east coast along with HP40, but t-wall is also known for its winter climbing. Pretty sure you cant climb in the gunks very often in december-february. And as far as quantity, doesnt even compare to the new unless you include the entire Dak's regions. not to mention when talking about the diversity of climbing, the gunks is completely one-dimensional (unless you include the bouldering surrounding the area or in the area)

The new has such great diversity amongst crags as well as in both sport and trad climbs. Chatty also contain several different climbing areas in a way (t-wall, stone fort, the obed could be also considered). I dont see how the tierred roof multi-pitch TRAD climbing of gunks compares at all the the single pitch areas such as the new which is predominately a sport crag with large amount of awesome trad throughout.

thats just me though

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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Nov 17, 2012
I just made my first trip to the Gunks and had a great time. Some really wonderful routes there. Great rock and it certainly has it's own style. I thought the legendary sandbag grades were totally overblown though, the grades felt just about right on to me.

One thing the gunks does have that few places do, is the sheer quantity of worthwhile easy routes. We did some 5.5s that were a total hoot. The harder stuff is terrific too.

Kind of funny, I spent a lot of time figuring out where to go... most routes don't follow an obvious line so for a tunnel visioned crack climber, I was looking all over the place to figure out where to go.

Town is fun too, lots of good eating and drinking options. THat German place is amazing!!

A terrific crag and I was there on a chilly midweek so crowds were nonexistent.

I'd go back for sure.

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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Nov 17, 2012
You stay away from mah pig!
mozeman wrote:
Personally I could never compare the gunks to the new or chatty.Especially when talking about length of season, you can climb in certain areas of the new in december if sunny (such as pirates cove and surrounding area.....and chatty is a primary winter destination on the east coast along with HP40, but t-wall is also known for its winter climbing. Pretty sure you cant climb in the gunks very often in december-february. And as far as quantity, doesnt even compare to the new unless you include the entire Dak's regions. not to mention when talking about the diversity of climbing, the gunks is completely one-dimensional (unless you include the bouldering surrounding the area or in the area) The new has such great diversity amongst crags as well as in both sport and trad climbs. Chatty also contain several different climbing areas in a way (t-wall, stone fort, the obed could be also considered). I dont see how the tierred roof multi-pitch TRAD climbing of gunks compares at all the the single pitch areas such as the new which is predominately a sport crag with large amount of awesome trad throughout. thats just me though


I agree mostly with you, but 1) The Gunks are a bit nicer in the summer than the NRG or Chatt (though I'd hate to be stuck at any of those areas in the summer).

As for the diversity, I was speaking only for features and movement, not sport versus trad. If the Gunks had more of a bolting ethic, they would be every bit as diverse as Chatt or the NRG.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Nov 17, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
Went to the Gunks for the first time as well in September and really loved it. So, going to go every year now around that same time! It's well worth the trip. Even got to the Lost City to check it out. Also agree on the sandbagging not being that bad. I mean, you have horizontal cracks pretty much every six feet, so almost a guarantee of a handhold and pro of some sort. Nothing felt desperate at all.


Eldo is pretty excellent. Once you get to Boulder you'll love it. We do have a wide variety of rock just in the Front Range alone, but it varies in quality and denseness of good routes. Eh, not bored yet!

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By susan peplow
From Joshua Tree
Nov 18, 2012
Beer Anyone?
So Dave.... Quality routes of all grades, Great 5.5's, no crowds and fantastic German heritage foods? Why is it I couldn't go?

Glad you had fun, sounds like a great time!

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By mozeman
Nov 18, 2012
camhead wrote:
I agree mostly with you, but 1) The Gunks are a bit nicer in the summer than the NRG or Chatt (though I'd hate to be stuck at any of those areas in the summer). As for the diversity, I was speaking only for features and movement, not sport versus trad. If the Gunks had more of a bolting ethic, they would be every bit as diverse as Chatt or the NRG.

Agreed. Although the NRG does have a subtle advantages in the summer as well (i.e. summersville lake and the new river to get your hippy bath on)

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By lucander
From Stone Ridge, NY
Nov 18, 2012
Lucander off the GT Ledge on p. 2 of Keep on Struttin.
Not sure on the bolting issue. A lot of the non/scarcely protected climbs are desperate finger strength routes like Death's Head Mask or Bone Hard - not the juggy thugfests of premier sport crags.

A bigger issue is access & ownership. "The Ridge" is 20+ miles long and full of rock. Put that in perspective: the Trapps are almost 1.5 miles long. If everything was open and documented the guidebook would be huge and the volume of climbing would rival that of better (IMHO) east coast crags. Those other cliffs also have slightly different stone that might (wink) lend itself nicely to modern sport climbing.

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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
Nov 18, 2012
I was looking all over the place to figure out where to go.

How true. People who come from other areas that are much bigger and have large, well-defined features are often a bit bemused by this. For them, the "obvious dihedral" is 100 feet high and 25 feet across. At the 'Gunks, the dihedral mentioned in a route description may be 2 feet tall and 6 inches across - and be right next to several others of the same general size.
As for the grades, I've been climbing there for almost 40 years, and I never thought that the grades were sandbagged. They might be a bit - just a bit - more difficult than some areas, but nowhere near to the degree suggested by this urban legend. A lot of the discomfort that visitors feel is unfamiliarity with the area and the style - just like anywhere else.

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By Jon H
From Boulder
Nov 18, 2012
At the matching crux
I would just like to point out that none other than John Stannard (Assuming it's not a troll account) himself resurrected this month-old thread. That's fucking cool.

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By John Stannard
Nov 18, 2012
There are not many of us Stannards, fortunately for everyone else and I climbed at the Gunks with Goldstone, of whom there are not nearly enough. So I have to plead guilty.

The underlying theme for the thread is the old American attitude that more is always better and only best is good enough. That attitude degrades our lives and in fact produces nothing. Thus it was I was encouraged to respond.

The area has its merits, as do all things, and it is available to us only because of the unremitting efforts of an amazing family over nearly a century and a half. That alone is enough to encourage us to appreciate what we have and to appreciate each other, more.

I think the objective of learning to appreciate both of these things, equally, is the central task of American democracy for the next century. The people of the Gunks have an unequaled opportunity to have at it.

That process will be fun. When Bragg and I managed to get over the last ceiling on Kliegfields folly we planned to get Wunsch belaying in that last tenuous inside corner and to jump off from above, smiling and waving to him as we went by. It would have been a hoot. Maybe next year.

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By worth russell
From Brooklyn, NY
Nov 18, 2012
I'm a relatively new leader and and did the same thing as coop but I went all 1-3 star routes up to 5.8 and into the 5.9s. The gunks are amazing and have a massive collection of exciting moderates. Thinking gelsa at 5.4 and modern times at 5.8. I've never been to another area that possesses such easy access to these types of moderates. As for sandbagging it's stiff from climb to climb not grades as a whole. I can think of routes at the gunks that are two grades or more off but in general I would say comparable to other areas. I was out in red rocks this past winter and was told it was so soft. Well the rock was about the only thing I found to be soft. It's just a different style of climbing. Best of luck out west coop. I call bullshit on the Jstan post but if it's not a troll thanks for the pitons. people are still whipping on them after all these years. Scary stuff

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By Erboutitman
From farmingdale ny
Nov 19, 2012
If you have been leading gunks 11s and haven't done a good route your doing something wrong... But i might be jaded i learned most of my skills at the gunks and i don't hate on any of the places i climbed...

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By Arch Richardson
Nov 19, 2012
I first started climbing at the Gunks back in the early 70's. Recall it was (just as?) crowded back then on weekends. Most weekdays its pretty easy to get on a route. Don't know about the 11's, but those glorious 4's, 5's, and especially the 6's. Can't think of anywhere else that has so many good 6's. Lotsa good 8's, 9's too. The Uberfall climbs may be overrated, but its a fun place to hang out. As for price, the annual membership is reasonable if you use it.

I would venture that the Gunks is the best (at what it's good at).

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