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Photo Credits to Collin

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This trip was a controlled inquiry into whether I should pursue rock-climbing as a serious passion. The fall break rock climbing in the Shawangunks (Gunks) course was the first Cornell Outdoor Education (COE) course I've taken since first semester freshman year, and provide an answer to my inquiry: not yet.

Friday:We met at COE and loaded the van. While placing a pack in the trunk, Harrison accidently set off the backward-facing fire extinguisher. Laura had just spent about 15 minutes trying to park a van with a trailer in the loading zone behind us, and her windshield was covered in white powder. I left a message (written backwards) that said "try backing me up now". Allison added a puppy to show we meant this in a friendly way. We would later learn that their van was pulled over on I-84 by a state trooper... oops. During the trip, I ran into Beth O'Malley, Mike Zupancic, and Jon Armstrong who are all COE climbing alums that frequent the Gunks often. I think they were all a little surprised I was in the class.

Saturday:I Climbed with Allison and Colin. Routes: Trusty Rifle, Bloody Bush, top-roped Ken's crack and Rhododendron. I caused Allison some worry when I went to use the bathroom and disappeared for over and hour. Near the bathroom, a ranger asked me to help with a litter carry for a fallen climber. The leader had taken a big swinging fall (30ft) while wearing a helmet on Arrow. He didn’t' pull any pieces, but he did suffer head trauma, a broken ankle and major abrasions on one of his arms. He regained consciousness on the cliff and a ranger assisted him and his partner down. We carried the litter to the ranger truck on the carriage road.

Sunday:I Climbed with Shay and Corey. Routes: Belly Roll, Frog's head, 1st pitch Jackie, 2nd Pitch Classic. I was stuck behind a climber at the crux of Frog's head for a while, and felt really proud that I got past that particular crux on my first try after the experienced climber couldn't do it. A crux is the hardest move of a pitch, or rope-length climb, and rock climbing is unique in that different people struggle with different types of moves.

Monday:I Climbed with Dan and Sean. Routes: 1st pitch Bloody Mary, 2nd Pitch Morning After, Overhanging Lie Back, Something Incredible. We practiced building quality anchors that were EARNEST - equalized, angle, redundant, no extensions, strong, timely. The last route of the day was the most difficult for me. In anticipation I put on my tighter bouldering shoes and subsequently still (January) have bruises under my big toe nails. My feet seem to be made more for hard shelled footwear like skates and ski boots. Sean and I are now good friends.

Tuesday:I Climbed with Harrison and Elle. I did not get a chance to climb with Max or Steve. Routes: Arches, Mock-led Rhododendron. On mock lead I made three mistakes; I made a poor nut placement, clipped the wrong rope once, and wrapped a foot around the rope once. Clipping the wrong rope is not likely to happen on actual lead, but the other two are rather serious safety consideration. Looks like I need more practice. Elle tried the same route before we had to drive back to Cornell.