Recap on a Rest Day

This weekend was a busy one. Despite one cancelled day of guiding down in the Gunks, there was enough climbing action to make a rainy Monday like this thoroughly appreciated.

Friday, 18th June: Full BAW Day

Double run to the Black Arches Wall (a.k.a. BAW) on Friday, out in the morning to meet Tom K. and TR Parallel Passage and Black Arch Arête, then back home for a short visit with Robin between her escapade to CT/RI and more local travels. Late in the afternoon, I went back out to prep for a climbing bout with Jason B.

Upon Jason’s arrival, he led Second Job with alacrity, then we moved over to Black Arch Arête, which was already set up for TR. Kevin and Val came out, and Jason helped get them established on their run of Second Job while I went to set up a TR on the newest official BAW route, Gun Show. Arriving at its base (it takes a bit to get there), I looked over my variation project and made a tentative decision to change plans slightly. Instead of TRing the standard line, I would try completing that cherry variation.

So we ended the night on a high note: sending the final project on the right-end face of the Black Arches Wall’s amphitheatre. Thursday’s feat with Matt Oakes (previous post) initiated the late-night completion of its more challenging variation, Side Show, wherein one climbs most of Gun Show’s difficult crack, then must head out right on a long, well-protected traverse to the outer corner. Just shy of that mark, the horizontal fades to a thin, unhelpful seam. A lousy foot nubbin and throw right seems to solve the problem, but pulling around feels desperately insecure. As darkness fell, Jason Brechko and I topped out and shook out tired forearms before rapping and packing for the headlamp-assisted exit.

My shoulder locked up painfully on the way out, so with two days’ guiding on the schedule, I was in serious need of some therapeutic massage by the time we reached home. Ra, back home once again, took command of that task, bringing on the pain relief. It’s wonderful to share life with so skilful a lady!

Saturday, 18th June: Guiding at the Gunks

Some sleep and all-too-soon a 4 a.m. alarm, quick cuppa coffee and on the road for New Paltz. Enough time to grab some groceries before arriving at the Gardiner (a.k.a Gunks) EMS Climbing School for the day’s work.

For the first time, I worked alongside fellow guide Jim. We had a group of six people, one of whom, Mark, climbed with me last week. Abilities ran the gamut from beginner to experienced intermediate, and it looked to be busy on the cliffs, so Jim ran ahead with Mark to secure a patch of rock for the entire gang while I finished outfitting the remaining crew. We arrived at the Ribs area, ready to go. Jim already had that route and its neighbor, Ribless, set up for TRing. I drafted Lon to belay me up the initial corner of Gorilla My Dreams, a good 5.6 intro to gymnastic-style climbing. After awhile lapping these lines, Jim led Rib’s upper pitch so we could TR that and people could rappel while I provided belays below.

Finishing that, we had plenty of time for more. Mark and Lon were climbing strongly, so we upped the ante a bit: Jim led the 1st pitch of Strictly From Nowhere while I took on the left-facing corner of Travels with Charlie. Those are very challenging; so after rigging my route (it’s a lot shorter than Jim’s lead), I went over and set a TR on a crack line right of Shockley’s Ceiling. This turned out to be quite challenging as well. The initial crack is perhaps 5.4, but the upper corner overhangs significantly on one side, pushing the grade to 5.7. Since that last bit can be avoided to the right, it makes a perfect combination for a range of abilities. Judy and Suzie opted to run the right side, while Mark and Lon tackled the left.

A full day’s worth of climbing under our belts, we stomped down Stairmaster and back to HQ. After saying good-bye to our gang, I found out Sunday’s booking was cancelled, so I headed homeward to a much-needed rest.

Sunday, 20th June: Back to the BAW


Jamie nears the end of Critical Crimps. 

In the morning, I called to Jamie McNeill. He and Alysia were on their way up to climb at the BAW. After Sunday School, I confess I snuck out and joined them there. Still nursing a sore shoulder, I had no plans to tackle hard stuff, wanting more to just enjoy their company. I did end up cleaning Critical Crimps, which seemed to fit the bill as a challenging but not-strenuous climb: one finesse-style 5.10a move coupled with a jambalaya of 5.7 and 8 balancy moves. Great stuff. That was enough to satisfy my climbing appetite for the day; I took the belay duties over so Jamie could run a lap on Parallel Passage and work his direct start project of Plumb Line.

After thoroughly torching his digit tendons in that fire, we considered our options, and decided to play around on the project left of Parallel Passage. I had no plans to strain myself on that overhanging crux, but watching Jamie pull through the moves made the temptation too great to resist. With a few droplets beginning to fall, I tied in and headed upward. This route looks a lot harder than it actually turns out to be: hidden holds just seem to sprout from the rock as one climbs. Protection, though bomber, won’t be easy or plentiful: there are several hard moves well above gear, so a fair amount of bravado will be called for; but the line is probably on the low end of 5.10b, much easier than it looks.

By the time I finished dangling up the project, it was raining steadily. Alysia had already shown herself the wisest of the crew by heading out; Jamie and I packed up and followed suit. Along the way of our exodus, we admired the path improvements of the past day. Anyone who has hiked this route will appreciate the work put into stabilizing the loose blocks through the talus pile.

We also surveyed the growing list of route projects Todd has collected on the TeePee Wall; a couple of these look stellar. They will make excellent end-of-day thrashers for climbers heading out from the BAW early enough to tackle them. Relatively easy walkarounds for TR set-up, handy trees, lovely lines: these will be a great addition to the climbing options on this part of Crane Mountain.


Monday is here, wet and drear; and once again a welcome wetness forces a rest and recuperation day. Looking outside, however, I note a glimmer of sun flitting between mist wads and haze. Perhaps a walk to the summit wouldn’t hurt…

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