Access to the Main Face is often limited in the spring and summer due to peregrine falcon nesting. Check the DEC web site (www.dec.ny.gov, search for "peregrine route closures"). Closures are posted in the kiosk at the beginning of the approach trail in the (now closed) Poke-O Campground.
Several recent incidents at the Poke-O Moonshine Main Face have heightened tensions with neighboring landowners.
Shortcut Trail (aka the Smitty Trail): The main approach goes from the (now closed) campground to the cliff near Discord. There is a shortcut trail on the right that provides access to the cliff near Pentecostal. This shortcut trail crosses the edges of two parcels of private land, and was closed in the spring of 2014. As of Aug 30, 2014, this trail is open on a tentative basis. Stay on the trail; there are some cairns and Access Fund signage to help.
Northern Trail Closure (aka the Easy Living Trail): There is an old trail that connects US 9 with the cliff near Psalm 32. This trail is entirely on private land and should NOT be used by climbers; indeed, it has been closed and undocumented for many years. Both ends of this trail are now marked with signs courtesy of the Access Fund.
In short, while visiting the Main Face, approach from the campground, and stay on the main trail along the base of the cliff.
This information is a public crowdsourcing effort between the Access Fund,
and Mountain Project. You should confirm closures, restrictions, and/or related dates.
An adventurous tour of the left end of the Main Face with a fierce layback crux and an exciting traverse marred by loose rock, vegetation and a dirty last pitch.
NOTE: Pitch 1 starts on The Snake Ledge, which is accessed by climbing P1 of The Snake.
Pitch 1 (5.9 - 50ft): The physical crux of the climb. Start off the Snake Ledge at the block with a stacked block on top beneath the obvious 50’ leaning corner with a small stance 1/3 of the way up. Boulder up the initial section to a small stance on the small ledge and lock in to push through the sustained remainder to the “thank you climbing gods” ledge. Belay with gear in the crack and an optional bolt. It is also possible to continue up and left to the bolts above Firing Line (5.11b) to descend to the ground with two ropes, descend to the Snake Ledge with a single rope, or to set a top rope.
Pitch 2 (5.7 - 100ft): Follow the crack up the ramp around and past a higher angle step (crux) to a good gear belay in dike rock beneath the large roof.
Pitch 3 (5.8 - 100ft): The psychological crux. Traverse a few feet right of the belay and step up on to a small, discontinuous but good ledge system that traverses right in orange dike rock (loose, be on your toes) past a manky old piton. Make thin technical moves rightward on the ledge system to a stance on a good ledge in a shallow flared groove/corner. Have fun enjoying the process of sussing out the sequence to make the crux moves around the blunt arete onto the shoulder-height ledge on the other side. Continue up and right through the unpleasant jungle of vegetation to a set of two corners (the left-most hidden by vegetation) and build a gear belay. A better stance is available 15 feet to the right below a roof, but watch the very loose dike rock you have to step around.
Pitch 4 (5.6 PG/R - 100ft): An unfortunate price to pay for 2.5 pretty decent pitches below. Climb the second (right-most) of the two corners (the cleanest) and step left onto the face/ramp system. Trend up and left on the ramp to a shallow right-facing corner and punch up onto “slabs” (read as dirt, grass, and dead tree limbs) for 30-40 feet of oddly unnerving uphill walking to the trees.
Start: 50 meters to the right of the Discord area, the large open area beneath the slabs and imposing roofs at the top of the face. Once on the Snake Ledge, walk back and look up at the unmistakable leaning crack.
Descent: Either locate the Discord rappel by walking climber's left once you reach the trees or continue walking climber's left to the descent gully.
Pitch 1: One old bolt anchor, bomber gear belay (C4 #.75 & #1) can be built in the crack to the right to supplement/replace.
A single standard rack from micro-cams to 3” will suffice (double C4 .75-1 could be useful if building anchor above P1).
Pitch one was fun, but it went steadily downhill from there. I thought the third pitch was 5.9 and somewhat scary (loose rock, uninspiring gear at the beginning). I broke a foothold at the crux of the traverse.