I recently got back from another trip upstate to the Gunks, or the Shawangunk Ridge, where some friends of mine and I spent a few days camping and climbing. The Gunks is the first place I ever went rock climbing. That was about 3 years ago now and I had a blast. I can't remember the name of that first route, but I can describe it as a 1 pitch crack climb which had been set up for me like a top-rope. Most of it involved a lay back with several hand jams, so it was a good introduction to the sport. A later climb that day resulted in my first rappel, which was awesome.
Since then I've been pretty regular at it and have been to some amazing places for climbing; Yosemite, New Hampshire, Mexico...I have many more on my list for the future of course. But the Gunks is the closest to my home, and my friends and I have made many trips up there; either staying overnight or making a quick day-trip. I rely mostly on my friend Jesse to go with, who is experienced, has his own trad rack and is a damn good climber. I don't know how to lead trad, or at least I haven't tried yet. The whole anchor set up kind of boggles me a bit.
Sorting out the gear
Climbers love to have inside lingo for things, mostly abbreviations. Therefore the Shawangunks is referred to simply as "the gunks." The word Shawngunk comes from the dutch for "smokey air," although these mountains aren't particularly smokey. The rock is quartz conglomerate, which has quite a variety of features; horizontal cracks and overhanging roofs mostly. It's right outside of New Paltz, a college town with a fair amount of tie-dye. People have been climbing here since the 1930's. There are a few bolts and pitons in the cliff face but they aren't allowed anymore and as a result the Gunks is almost all trad (or traditional) climbing (as opposed to sport climbs which involve bolted rock for easy clipping). The area is separated by a road into two parts: The Trapps and the Nears. The Trapps is a bit more popular and can get real crowded on weekends. Both areas have great climbing and bouldering.
Some of the classic climbs I've done over the years are Something Interesting, Modern Times, Le Teton and High Exposure. There have been many more but I can't remember the names of them right now.
I hope to have a chance to take one more trip to the Gunks before winter comes!
View from my tent