Don't miss local climber Chris Fracchia's labor of love, Millbrook, where he provides excellent topos, photos, and select route descriptions. Props, Chris!
Millbrook is remote by Gunks' standards, but the "grueling" 40-minute hike rewards you with some of the best climbing the Gunks has to offer. Many consider it to be the Gunks' best cliff, but I think that depends on what you're looking for -- if it's fantastic views, no crowds, great climbing (although characteristically run out), a sense of commitment, and adventure in general, then you will not be disappointed. The wall is generally dead vertical, and the white quartzite that it is composed of yields a slightly different climbing experience than the Trapps or the Nears. Millbrook has more than 80 routes ranging in length from 130 to 200 feet.
"The Bank" was the first cliff climbed in the Gunks, via "The Old Route," by Fritz Wiessner in 1935. It's rated 5.5 and I've heard it's pretty chossy, but Millbrook isn't for sissies after all. Other "must do's" include Westward Ha! (5.7), Cruise Control (5.9), Time Eraser (10a), High Plains Drifter (10+), New Frontier (11-), and Nectar Vector (12+), along with a few others that, by tradition, aren't talked about too often. This is also the tallest cliff in the Gunks, and most routes are 1 to 3 pitches in length.
One interesting point to consider is that the climbs are typically approached via double-rope raps from above. This will not take you to the bottom of the cliff, but will instead land you on a "GT Ledge" of sorts. This ledge ranges from 2-20' wide, and the climbs begin from this point. If you traverse the entire length of this ledge you can escape from either side, but the best way to escape from Millbrook is to climb out -- you should plan for this. There are several rap station access points, but the most commonly used one, and most centrally located, is above "Westward Ha!" from a very large pine tree. Westward Ha! (5.7) is well-protected, solid, and makes for a great cool-down climb at the end of the day to exit the cliff. An efficient solution is to fix a line from the rap station, and just return to it after each climb. That way, if worse comes to worst, you could jug that line at the end of the day.
Getting to Millbrook is tricky. You can begin from the 30-minute parking area just below the Near Trapps and follow the Ridge Trail all the way to the top of the cliff. There are also some other approaches which are faster, but require crossing private property or confusing route finding. It is highly advisable to make your first trip to Millbrook with someone who knows the way -- and who can find the rappel stations at the top of the cliff -- they are not immediately obvious.
Westward Ha! is definitely one of the best 7's at the Gunks.The top of the route is quite close to end of the carriage road that ends on top of Millbrook. This spot can be located by a place where the trail leaves the cliff edge and ascends a short rocky band to the road. Instead of going up, follow a climber's trail (past an ominous "go away" sign) for a couple hundred feet. Look for a rappel tree just down from the cliff edge. Rappel about 150' down to the ledge at the base of the route. You...[more]Browse More Classics in NY
People can now approach Millbrook by the carriage road (either on bike or foot). This is definitely the fastest way in if you're on a bike. I've been told that Minnewaska rangers are OK with people carrying climbing gear as long as you tell them you're going to Millbrook. Finding the Westward Ha tree from there is also pretty easy since it's so close to the end of the road.