Image Alt


  >  Destinations  >  United States  >  The Gunks Weekend: COVID Climbing and Camping

Officially known as the Shawangunk Ridge, the Gunks are one of the premier climbing areas in the country, and it is one of the oldest as well.

The Gunks are located mostly in the Mohonk Preserve, a land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting the northern Shawangunk Ridge, and are just minutes away from New Paltz, New York, a funky college town.

There are hundreds of climbs packed throughout the ridge, mostly in The Trapps and The Near Trapps.  Most of the routes are easily accessible off of the gravel carriage road that extends the lengths of the Trapps, and the routes range from 9 to 90 meters, providing for nice variety.

The Gunks are made of quartz conglomerate and are known for its horizontal cracks, ledges and roofs.  This rock has a natural “cement” of quartz which holds the particles together and makes it one of the hardest and most durable rocks and the terrain makes it perfect for all levels of climbers.

We decided to spend the holiday weekend camping in climbing.  Given COVID, all of the campgrounds were closed, but we were fortunate that Sky Lake, the Shambhala contemplative center nearby, was kind enough to allow us to camp on their grounds and use their facilities.

After arriving on Thursday afternoon, we set up camp, grabbed lunch at Lola’s and then headed into the Mohonk Preserve. We spent the afternoon doing a short but somewhat strenuous hike and rock scramble.  It was perfect for an afternoon and then ended our day out visiting the local gear shop, Rock and Snow.

Once we made our way back to camp, we started a fire, cooked dinner and called it a night.

The weather was hot and humid with intermittent storms, and the next morning didn’t look too great so our plan to climb with a guide fell through.  Instead, we ended up heading to the Trapps on our own, doing a few scrambles and setting up a some top ropes.

Following our afternoon, we went back into town and grabbed lunch at Main Course Marketplace, a great little farm-to-table spot for salads and sandwiches.

We spent the evening back at Sky Lake, where I walked the grounds and eventually, we made dinner.

On Saturday, we met up with Andrew from Mountain Skills for a full day of climbing. We started our day on the Guides Walk, and top roped the Northern Pillar, first on the left and then on the right (grade 5.2 / 5.3).

Once we were warmed up, we continued with a multi-pitch climb, Minty. This is a three pitch climb, going from 5.3 for P1, 5.4 at P2 and down to 5.2 at P3.  Once at the top, we rappelled down starting from a tree at the top, and the via the bolted anchors at the ledges below.

We then ended the day with a climb on Horseman, a very famous single pitch 5.5, which was steep but not too difficult and a good end to the day.

We then headed back into the city to catch the underwhelming fireworks display out of the Empire State building.