Climbing the Gunks, Upstate NY

Our group of eager adventurers climbed into a fleet of Subaru vehicles and began the hour’s journey through the Hudson Valley to Mohonk Mountain House. The historic resort lies near the base of the Shawangunk Ridge.

I popped through the sunroof to snap a few photos of our caravan and the gorgeous fall colors.


My driving partner, Geoffrey, amused himself by photographing me!


Upon arrival, we gazed upon the majestic “Gunks” (short for Shawangunk) from the resort’s beautiful back porch. There are more than 1,200 documented climbing routes here that range in difficulty from USA class 3 to 5.0 to 5.13.


The area we climbed appears just below the tower. We geared up and began our trek toward the ridge. I was getting a little nervous!


Reality of what lay ahead set in when the needle-covered carriage path turned into a rocky scramble.


This image is mild compared to what we eventually faced. I would have photographed the treachery, but I needed all four limbs.



We gathered at the base and waited for instruction from our belayers. I volunteered to go second so I could watch the first climber’s ascent and not allow myself time to over think what I was about to do.


Was he nuts? Was I nuts? Did I mention I have a crippling fear of heights?


I warmed up on the “baby” climb just to get the hang of the equipment. Rated a 5.1, it only rose about 35 feet.


Feeling confident, I let go and glided my way down to the base Peter Pan style. I was ready to tackle Lakeview, rated 5.5.


Here she is! I used the crevice on the left to get started. I didn’t know my body could contort itself the way it did.


Heart pounding, I made slow but steady progress!


This natural ledge seemed like a safe spot to take a break and shoot a few photos with the Nikon AW1. I felt comfortable bringing it along for the ride thanks to its shockproof design. It’s also waterproof to 15 meters — further expanding my outdoor photographic opportunities.


The view was something to behold. But even more grand than the landscape below me was the confidence the climb inspired within me.


What a spectacular experience! And to the makers of Shellac nail polish, I am pleased to report that I completed my climb without a single chip.


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1 comment

  1. What a great trip! The scenery and the climbing are spectacular!

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