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> Delaware Water Gap NRA
New Jersey's biggest and best multi pitch climbing area. With over two hundred routes if you include Mt.Minsi which is on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. Mt Tammany is bigger and more spectacular than Minsi. With spectacular situations and easy access these cliffs will only gain in popularity as time goes on. Mt Tammany holds a hundred or so routes, many of them considered authentic "test pieces" for their grade, the maximum so far being in the 5.12 range. This area has a strong traditional ethic of being a "ground-up" area, there are no sport routes on the NJ side of the Gap and the use of motorized drills or installation of hardware is illegal as it is on Federal land. Cleaning routes on rappel of loose rocks, dirt, and grass is encouraged. Helmets are MANDATORY when climbing at the Gap!!! If you value your safety you'll use them! The rock is MetaQuartzite and holds pro SOLID!
Guidebooks for the area: Falcon Guide: Rock Climbing in New Jersey by Paul Nick and Neil JA Sloane 2000
Garden State Climbing by Joseph Vulpis 2018
Out of print guidebooks but can still be found: Climbing Guide to the Delaware Water Gap by Michael Steele
Rock & Ice in the Gap by Hugh Dougher
Climbing History: This area has been being developed for as long as people have been visiting here. Old pitons can be found all over the cliffs dating back to the early 1900's.
- "Princeton Era" between 1925 and 1959: During this time, 1925 to 1945, several Princeton professors who were well known mountaineers practiced rock climbing here. From 1948 until the late 1950's the Princeton Mountaineering Club used these cliffs (mostly the NJ side) for weekend training trips.
- "Dougher Era" Between 1975 and 1983: Hugh Dougher put up lots of new routes on both side of the Delaware Water Gap with various partners like Henry McMahon, Ron Matthews, Mike Panz and others. Richard Pleiss, Bob Daneker and others also put up several new routes during this time period.
- "Steele Era" between 1984 and 1990: Michael Steele, author of 'A Climbing Guide to the Delaware Water Gap' put up many hard routes on both sides of the park/river for that time period like 'Last of the Vikings (5.10c), Double Exposure (5.11a), Ride of the Valkyries (5.10b).
- "Ronca Era" between 1991 and 1999: Mark Ronca really changed the route development in the Delaware Water Gap during this time period. He was a park ranger here and lived close by so developing this area was right next door. He put up some of the best hard climbing the Gap has to offer.
- "Vulpis Era" between 2003 and now: Joey Vulpis, owner of Northeast Mountain Guiding, free climbed most of the previously rated aid routes establishing YDS ratings as well as developing more climbs on other walls in this section of the park. His development of the upper headwall in the mid-2000's will be featured in the new 2018 guidebook as well as the winter ascent information for both headwall.
There has been more route development and route cleaning here over the years by various local climbers and guide services like Northeast Mountain Guiding and Riverview Outdoors. There's still a lot of new route potential but this area doesn't see a lot of climbers. It's probably due to the rumors of chossy stone. Yes there's some loose rock here but not how people describe it to be. This is a great place for multi-pitch rock climbing! First ascent information here is based upon research, not guidebook information. Claiming a first ascent means to climb the route from the ground up with or without gear, lead style NOT on top-rope.
Take I-80 west from N.J. and youll see it on the right just before crossing into Pa. Park at the first exit/parking lot just after passing the big cliff on your right. Approach by walking along the trail BEHIND the highway barrier wall (DO NOT walk on I-80) to reach the trail that leads up along the cliff or just before the roadside area venture left up a narrow trail to the top of the cliff and rappell down.
Mark Ronca aiding a section of a climb. Photo credit: Mark Ronca
Mt. Tammy Path marker off 80 for base trail
Joey Vulpis leading the "The Rib" about 75 feet into the route just below the belay ledge.
Not as loose as you've heard
Campsite while climbing at the Delaware Water Gap this past Winter.
Hiking up the 'Red Dot' trail on Mt.Tammany