The Gunks - New Paltz, New York -- Jan 29, 2005

(all pictures are High res, for low res click here)

During my vacation between jobs, I decided that it would be cool to visit one of my buddies in NYC, and hopefully do some ice climbing up in the hills. Armand had just returned from summiting Aconcagua in Argentina, so I knew he'd be in shape. Many people ask me what type of equipment is needed for a day of ice climbing, so I kept a list of the items that I'd be using. Mind you, I didn't actually use all of the gear listed beHigh, but I brought it just in case -- just like a good American climber, too much gear!

petzl Ergo ice climbing tools
two 9.8mm climbing ropes
grivel ice climbing screws
petzl vasak leverlock crampons
koflach double plastic boots
petzl helmet
julbo glacier glasses
clear smith ski goggles
tinted smith ski goggles
cat crap defog gel
mountain hardware balaclava
mountain hardware hat
helly hansen hat
Outdoor Research Pro mountaineering gloves
cloudveil schoeller ice climbing gloves
black diamond gloves
Outdoor Research bottle parka
2 nalgene bottles
athletic tape
leatherman's knife
fleece vest
heavyweight thermal shirt
heavyweight thermal pants
polypro underwear
polypro t-shirt
polypro undershirt
polypro heavyweight socks
polypro sock liners
Outdoor Research XL Expedition gaiters
black diamond mountaineering harness
cloudveil schoeller soft shell pants
cloudveil schoeller soft shell jacket
wildthings parka
gregory 3000+ cu in backpack
northface 10,000 cu in basecamp bag
2 ATC's
6 carabiners
2 pulleys

Funny that I kept a list of gear for this trip, as my gear turned out to screw me in the long run on this trip, but more about that later.  Anyway, after a nice and cold night in New Paltz, New York, Armand and I drove to the EMS climbing school to meet our guide. Peter. He said the unusual cold and precipitation have created some great ice climbing opportunities in the Gunks , so he recommended that we go there instead of the Catskills. So we drove to the trailhead, packed our gear and began the approach to our first waterfall. You know, I've been looking everywhere to find the names of these routes, but I haven't discovered them yet. If you know any of the names of these routes, please let me know.

As we began this route, Armand belayed , as Peter led the route. Once at the top, Peter belayed from the top, and Armand and I each took turns climbing up. We both cruised this route with ease. We had great views at the top , but the ledge was a little precarious. After a few minutes of resting, Peter led the rappels back down. .

At the bottom of this pitch, we rested and played a little with this cute dog. Awwwwweeee!

After downing some outrageously expensive gourmet food which we brought from Manhattan, I began climbing our second pitch. Unbeknownst to me, my stupid crampons were not fitted correctly. I discovered this halfway up the route , as I was wondering why my arms were burning and my hands were permanently stuck in a Hong Kong Phooey position. Three quarters of the way up the route, I had to have Armand lower me as I couldn't hold the tools anymore, in fact, I even dropped one.  I got to the bottom and began trying to fix my crampons and my guide gave me the double whammy. Apparently, not only were they not fitting correctly, but they were specialized mountaineering crampons, which suck for ice climbing -- the fangs were curved down. Well, these were brand new crampons, and dummy me thought regular mountaineering crampons would work, as my last pair served double time very well.

Continuing on, Armand nailed this route and made me look stupid. :-) He kicked total butt.

Well on to the third and last pitch of the day. Since my arms were fried, I told Peter that I would do half the pitch and he could lower me. Well, I got halfway up the pitch, and I felt OK. I thought, hey maybe I could actually top out on this pitch and that would be a good way to end the day. Well, as I began the second half of the pitch, my arms froze up again, but my great guide, Peter, kept encouraging me to climb up. After many periods of rest, I finished out the pitch. I think it took me about 40 minutes to complete because I had to climb with only my arms. Ugh.

After topping out, we rappelled back down and hiked back to the car. My arms were tired, but I had a blast. It was fun day of climbing. I hope to go back and do some more very soon.