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YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 500'
Original:  YDS: 5.8+ French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: John Turner, Brian Rothery, and Wilfried Twelker, 1959
Page Views: 15,836
Submitted By: Chris Duca on Dec 4, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (97)
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BETA PHOTO: Not a great photo; looking up at pitch 4.

  • Access is limited in the spring and summer due to peregrine falcon nesting; so there are some closures. Checking with the Adirondack Climbers Coalition or the NYDEC can provide the closure status.
  • Peregrine closures and approach trail issues MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    Gamesmanship is one of Poke-O's oldest and finest routes.

    Begin the route in the right hand of two handcracks behind a nice, large birch tree.

    Pitch 1:
    Technically, the route's crux is the first 15 feet of climbing and consists of insecure (read: slippery) jams in a fist-size crack. Once past this section, expect endless jamming in an impeccable crack to a bolted anchor. (5.8+ / 140 feet)

    Pitch 2:
    Continue up the left-facing corner above and belay at the dike on a comfortable ledge. (5.7 / 120 feet)

    Pitch 3:
    Easy does it up the broken rock above until it is possible to trend right up less-than-vertical rock to clump of trees on a spacious ledge below a left-facing corner. (5.4R / 100 feet)

    Pitch 4:
    A great pitch. Move out right and climb a pure handcrack that slices through the airy face above. The crack will end, but continue up much easier terrain to a lone white birch tree on a small, but comfortable belay ledge. (5.7+ / 140 feet)

    Pitch 5:
    A pitch of much less difficulty leads up the clean, open slab above to the top. Belay at the trees. (5.1R / 150 feet)

    Getting Down:
    From the top of the route look down and to the right. There is an island of trees at the cliff's edge with a slung tree to rap the route. Walk across and down the open slab to the trees. 3 rappels with two 60 meter ropes will deposit you on the ground.


    Roughly 120 feet to the right of the large, grassy Positive Thinking area.


    A standard rack with several #2 Camalots and a couple #3 Camalots for the first pitch. Two Cordolettes, and two 60 meter ropes to rappel the route.

    Photos of Gamesmanship Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: An unknown climber cruising up the first pitch of ...
    An unknown climber cruising up the first pitch of ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Crux start of Gamesmanship
    Crux start of Gamesmanship
    Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climber starting p2
    Unknown climber starting p2
    Rock Climbing Photo: Amount of rope left from a 70 m rope after partner...
    BETA PHOTO: Amount of rope left from a 70 m rope after partner...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3 from the P2 belay
    BETA PHOTO: Pitch 3 from the P2 belay
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up Pitch 2 from the P1 belay.
    BETA PHOTO: Looking up Pitch 2 from the P1 belay.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Ben Botelho follows P1 of Gamesmanship(5.8+)
    Ben Botelho follows P1 of Gamesmanship(5.8+)
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch One
    Pitch One
    Rock Climbing Photo: The good clean fun of Gamesmanship, P. 1
    The good clean fun of Gamesmanship, P. 1

    Comments on Gamesmanship Add Comment
    Show which comments
    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 28, 2016
    By Sam Fox
    From: Burlington, VT
    Oct 7, 2016
    rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

    Today Dylan Oliver and I climbed Fastest gun and then had energy left over so we figured we'd quickly simu-climb Gamesmanship on our way out of poko. I've done Gamesmanship a solid 5-6 times now and know the route pretty well. I followed the first pitch.

    About 9/10 of the way up the first pitch there's a fun hand-crack/layback section before you get up to the bolts, and in the top of that hand-crack/layback section there were some large patty flakes.

    I say were because today I ripped those fuckers out and tossed them to the ground.

    I don't know what the hell has happened on gamesmanship recently but they were completely loose in the crack. I grabbed one (as I have a half-dozen times before) and it like slid down inside the crack and was perched precariously on the edge just waiting to fall out. It definitely would have killed the belayer and maybe the climber of the next party so I went ahead and trundled it. I investigated the other block in the crack and wiggled it back and forth a bit and it was also completely detached and waiting to kill someone. When I pulled that one out a colony of bats blasted out and flew all over me. I'm disgusted just thinking about it.

    Anyway I was sorry to alter the route but it seemed destined to happen and I was just glad I could make sure nobody was going to get hurt.

    There are some more residual loose pieces (small but big enough to be deadly) so make sure to be extra careful if you're heading up there anytime soon.
    By banzai
    Oct 15, 2016

    Climbed the first pitch today. Saw a fairly large loose flake that's ready to fall down - just like Sam was saying. It's inside the wider part of the crack just before getting to the anchor.
    By tuscanes
    From: rosendale, ny
    Dec 19, 2007
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    On the pitch 3 description....I think you meant to trend RIGHT to clump of trees.
    By Chris Duca
    From: Havertown, PA
    Dec 19, 2007

    I sure did...thanks for catching that!
    By Michael John Gray
    From: Queensbury, NY
    Aug 23, 2008
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I thought Pitch four was harder than two! I see you caught that too. Cool!
    By Derek Doucet
    Jun 10, 2010
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    An excellent first pitch and a good 4th pitch are detracted from by uninteresting and unaesthetic climbing on pitches 2 and 3. I'd give P1 4 stars and P4 3 stars, but none to the other pitches, and so the route as a whole only 2 stars.

    Better to do P1 and rap, then do the Sting and Green Onion to take in 3 excellent 5.8s. IMHO, the only compelling reason to do the entire route is because it provides a moderate way to get to the top of Poko, which is admittedly a rare thing!
    By Peter Lewis
    From: Bridgton, Maine
    Sep 20, 2010

    Outstanding jamming (except for the choss of the third pitch). A couple of notes about the rappel. You can do just two rappels with doubld 60s, but, it involves about 40 feet of 4th class downclimbing on the blocky dike rock between rappels (dangerous). A much safer alternative is to make one short rappel (about 40 meters) from the tree island at the top to a fixed anchor on a small ledge on the steep wall. Then make a second rappel down through the dike-rock to the next anchor, and then a third to the ground. Be extremely careful on the last rappel, however--twin 60's JUST make it (tie knots and use an autobock backup). If in doubt, stop at either of two other anchors about halfway down the last rap.
    By ddriver
    From: SLC
    Sep 27, 2011

    I thought pitch 2 was just as good as pitch 4, neither of which in any way compares to pitch 1. Nonetheless, a very worthwhile outing.
    By Simon Thompson
    From: New Paltz, NY
    Nov 14, 2011
    rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    I would definitely double up on BD #1 and #2. I had a #4 and was fine without having double #3s.
    By Benjaminadk
    From: San Pedro, California
    Feb 14, 2013

    as a side note. pitches 2 & 3 AND 4 & 5 can be linked with a 70m rope if u move the belay at the top of p3 up and right to the base of the "Ski Tracks" pitch. (easily done because this section is a large ledge)
    By Kevin Heckeler
    From: Upstate New York
    Jul 27, 2013
    rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

    Opening moves on P1 are 5.8ma

    Otherwise great climb with every possible jam/crack technique in my tool kit used. I agree with P2 being 5.7-ish, and the ski tracks on P4 were difficult and felt there might be a few 5.8 moves (found a couple spots during the hand jam were as difficult as the climbing on P1). 5.7++ perhaps. Pitch 5 is probably 5.3-ish near the top, otherwise . Being solid on slab helps a lot with the runout.
    By Derek Doucet
    Jun 11, 2014
    rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

    Public Service Announcement:

    As of 6/10/14, there are two softball sized but square loose rocks 2/3s of the way up the second pitch. They are almost completely detached, and one is covered with chalk. Both are directly in the line of ascent, and could even conceivably be dislodged by rope movement. I wasn't able to trundle them for fear of hitting others in the area at the time, and so had to settle for avoiding them and placing gear to keep the rope away from them. If the area is clear, they could very easily be dropped.

    By Dirk
    Nov 13, 2015

    I was able to do the Central Rappel with two 60's as of 10/2015. For the first rap, it is MANDATORY to have knots in the end of your ropes--I had maybe a foot or two left at the most when I clipped the slings on the tree. Two 60's from the tree on the dike will take you to the top of The Sting ledge, no problem. I hope this beta saves someone time, but please, sé cuidadoso!!!
    By Zak Munro
    From: VT,CO, Bar Harbor ME
    Sep 28, 2016

    Best jamming on the east coast? Didn't find the 3rd pitch R rated, pro where you need it just take the path of least resistance. Doubles of #1-#2 Camelots is the ticket.

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