This part of our web site is intended for climbers who are wondering if the Gunks might be a good place to visit during vacation. We selected a few of some of our favorite climbs and information that can be helpful in planning a trip.
The Gunks is one of our favorite places to visit. The most temperate times to go are late March - May (55 - 75 degrees) and September - October (same temperatures as spring). See out weather chart for more detail. Climbing in the heat of the summer can be exhausting, but the days are long and a lunch break can be taken at the cold watering hole on the preserve. We have climbed here in November, but found that we virtually alone had to wear a lot of warm clothing.
For more information about climbs at the Gunks, including photos, see our Selected Climbs page.
There are several guiding companies that are licensed to teach at the Gunks. We have never taken a class at the Gunks, but recommend John Ross' High Angle Adventures, Inc. guiding service. John Ross has been guiding in the Gunks forever and knows every feature of rock on every climb. He has a passion for teaching new climbers and enjoys the class as much as his students. We would recommend him to any of our friends. His number is 800 777-CLIMB (-2546).
Ratings, Morals, and Style
The climbing at the Gunks is traditional, meaning that there are not any sport routes, though there are occasional bolts on some face climbs. It is policy not to add any bolts or pitons to the cliffs. Older fixed protection is replaced on popular routes, and several climbs now have bolts set up for rappels to prevent any more damage to the trees in the area, and to keep 'ugly' slings out of view from the people walking by.
Many visitors find the ratings to be stiff compared to other climbing areas, so we recommend that you try a climb below your leading limits before you decide how hard you want to climb. The Gunks offer roofs on many of the climbs, even on 5.2's, so if you are not used to roofs, you will get plenty of opportunities to practice them.
We use Todd Swain's The Gunks Guide. It has all of the cliffs in one book and offers decent maps of the climbs and a trail map on how far to walk to get to a particular climb. Between the book and beta from local climbers we have been able to find everything we were looking for. Dick Williams also has a guide book available. Deciding between the two is a personal preference. There will be differences in ratings and route descriptions between the two.
Gear and Supplies
Climbing gear can be purchased at Rock and Snow in New Paltz, which is right near the Gunks. It is a great place to go when it rains, and is open late during the summer so you can stop in after dinner to browse and pick up a few necessities. Besides climbing gear, we have been able to pick up camping supplies like cooking ware and Thermarests at the shop. There are plenty of guide books and magazines to help you get though a rainy day as well (Can you tell that it rains a lot around here?).