The Gunks Rundown With Charlie Kelly (PICS)

A trad climber’s Mecca. A city rat’s favorite getaway. The Shawangunk Ridge—The Gunks, that is—is a crowded, inspiring mess during the summer months.

It’s a line of bedrock that emerges from the foot of the Catskill Mountains and offers steep, heavily featured lines for all abilities. Huge horizontals and hordes of seasoned locals able to give you route-finding advice make it a nice place to start a trad-climbing career. Plus, it’s only two hours from both New Haven and New York. Beware of the grades, though—they’re notoriously stout. Need a hand? The famous High Xposure Guides can get you off the ground feeling confident.

Trapped at an internship in the city this summer, this was my regular climbing escape. I’ve fallen madly in love—here’s my list of memorable ticks and some photos to boot. - Charlie

High Exposure, 5.6

A Gunks classic and one of the airiest lines here, the name really does say it all.

Strictly Shockley’s, 5.8

A link up of Travels with Charlie, Strictly from Nowhere, and the mega-classic Shockely’s Ceiling, this long journey is sometimes climbed by moonlight, because the rock’s white enough to see.  I did it with headlamps, and got quite a fright reaching over the intimidating (but totally protectable and easy!) ceiling. Back in the day, it was traditional to make these moonlight laps on Shockley’s in the birthday suit. Anyone know if this still happens? I mean, I would never… I’m just curious…

Yellow Wall, 5.11c

Often called the best climb at the Gunks, and rightly so, this “5.11c” serves some of the toughest “5.11” climbing I’ve ever been on with a side of dodgy protection.  Apparently, there’s some secret beta for the crux second pitch that makes it manageable, but I didn’t get the memo—I felt like I was climbing hard 12 and almost took the whip.

Supper’s Ready, 12a

A one pitch wonder, this overhanging boulder problem of a trad climb threw me for quite a loop. I don’t like to fall on trad gear, but a couple of weekends on this route turned me into The Gunk’s biggest hang-dogger. This is the only trad climb I’ve been on where I literally threw an all-points-off desperation dyno, and it was totally worth it. Couldn’t have been happier when I sent.


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Comments (1)

  1.  This is so cool! Were you not in the least bit nervous from the height? I swear it looks dizzying from such a high place. Great work at reaching the top!

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