Gunks in the summer?


Original Post
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Hey everyone,

So, the wife and I are thinking of planning a longer (~2 week) trip this summer, and we're looking for a place with climbing and other activities. We're considering the Gunks as one of our options, but I wanted to make sure that conditions would be tolerable for climbing. I know spring/fall are ideal, but is it still worth the trip in mid July?

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

Plenty of people climb all summer long, but it can be hot and humid. Not as bad as the South, but much worse than most of the West. To some extent it depends on how psyched you are to climb.

A good strategy is to do a route or two in the early morning, then do something else until the cliffs (meaning the Trapps, Near Trapps, and Millbrook) go into the shade around 2 pm. Or just show up at 2---you have until 9 pm or so in the summer. There are lots of nice one-pitch climbs in the Near Trapps that are shadier because they are down in the trees (although this can increase the humidity). But these are not the classic Gunks routes most visitors want to tick, although many are worthy pitches.

Millbrook is usually cooler and breezier than the other cliffs, but also more intimidating, with an hour or so approach hike, rappel access to the routes, most of the climbs at least 5.10, and many of them with R-rated sections. Westward Ha! at 5.7 (one of the best in the Gunks at that grade) and Cruise Control at 5.9 are exceptions and are probably the most frequented Millbrook climbs.

Ticks and Lyme disease are a problem in Dutchess and Ulster Counties, and chiggers can be a major annoyance. I'd suggest permethrin on your clothes, deet on your skin, and nightly body checks.

mnjsan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 240

IMO you'd be better off heading 3 hours further north to the Adirondacks. July is an amazing time in the high peaks and you'll find lots of climbing and lots of other activities.

Gunks is def doable in July but as rgold already stated it can def get hot and humid. July seems to be the worst of the summer months in the Gunks and depending on how bad the humidity is it can really suck the life out of you.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40

Mid July? Squamish!!

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

I know. I'm pushing for Squamish, but it's a harder sell since it's so far. Wife doesn't climb and we're bringing our daughter (will be 1.5 yrs by then), so we're looking for a place with easy access and a wide range of activities. I also grew up in upstate NY and have fond memories of New Paltz, although sadly this was before I was a climber...

T Roper · · DC,VA,NM,UT,CT,MA · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 730

If youve never been then yes, do it. With late starts like Rich said and an over abundance of gigantic holds on most routes the heat isnt that bad. Honestly the classic routes there are like no others I've climbed anywhere. I know people always say Indian Creek is really a sport climbing area with gear but IMO the Gunks are truly a sport climbing area with gear and much bigger roofs.

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 25
mnjsan wrote:IMO you'd be better off heading 3 hours further north to the Adirondacks. July is an amazing time in the high peaks and you'll find lots of climbing and lots of other activities. Gunks is def doable in July but as rgold already stated it can def get hot and humid. July seems to be the worst of the summer months in the Gunks and depending on how bad the humidity is it can really suck the life out of you.
Plan for the Dacks and if you get some lucky days in the 80s, head down to the Gunks for a couple days. Cheaper camping too up north
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Yeah, I climb at Devil's Lake all summer long and while there are days where I have to drop everything a number grade or two because my hands are sliming off the holds/out of cracks, it's still a good time. I'm just trying to avoid areas that are unclimbable (e.g: most of the south).

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282

rgold's 2pm start beta is right on the money, you can have a very comfortable and full day of climbing by doing that. There is quite a bit to do around New Paltz and the Hudson River Valley but with a 1.5yo Hasbrouck Park and Moriello Pool will be key. Easy bus access to the city as well. So definitely doable, and the Daks advice is wise also, good way to add some variety. Lake Placid might be a good base up there with the kid.

All that said, I would not fly across the country to climb in the Gunks in July. If other things attract you to the area (I'm told that not all the cars clogging Main Street every weekend throughout the year are not all climbers) then groovy, but if I was traveling to climb in the summer I'd pick Squamish over New Paltz for sure. Plenty enough activities in town (we saw an unbelievable number small children/strollers in Squamish) for a child that age, and Vancouver pretty close. Much milder temperatures. The one caveat is the rain, of which we had none in 2 weeks in September, but which I think can be pretty heinous and much more sustained than you'd get here. Good luck either way, and pm me if desired.

Ted.kemble · · tower city PA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

what about acadia? its a great place to go in the middle of summer, nice cool temps, low humidity and if you go on an off week or during the week its pretty relaxed. we go up over the 4th and have a great time, we have a 6 and 4 yr old but have taken them up since 1 and always have a good time.

lucander · · Stone Ridge, NY · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 175

If you're rolling I really think the Gunks are about as family friendly as can be for a vacation. We have a 1.5 year old and get her out often. Lots of short scenic hikes, streams, and manicured beauty that's super accessible.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Cool, good to hear it!

Ted (nice name btw ;) )Acadia looks beautiful, but isn't it somewhat remote? We're looking for somewhere with easy access and other activities + a town nearby. Acadia looks like a great place to camp & climb but I don't think the wife would be down for 2 weeks of camping with a toddler...

Optimistic: yeah, if it were just me, I'd be in Squamish in a heartbeat, as psyched as I am to check out the Gunks. It's pretty amazing my wife is willing to do this at all, though, so I'm looking for a good compromise where she and the kid will have a good time as well and access is easy. If we hit Squamish, I'd be tempted to head up the Chief, which does not exactly make for a short or kid-friendly day...

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 282
Ted Pinson wrote:Cool, good to hear it! Ted (nice name btw ;) )Acadia looks beautiful, but isn't it somewhat remote? We're looking for somewhere with easy access and other activities + a town nearby. Acadia looks like a great place to camp & climb but I don't think the wife would be down for 2 weeks of camping with a toddler... Optimistic: yeah, if it were just me, I'd be in Squamish in a heartbeat, as psyched as I am to check out the Gunks. It's pretty amazing my wife is willing to do this at all, though, so I'm looking for a good compromise where she and the kid will have a good time as well and access is easy. If we hit Squamish, I'd be tempted to head up the Chief, which does not exactly make for a short or kid-friendly day...
I think either way will be great, but just so you know Squamish is a pretty good sized town too, big aquatic center, playgrounds etc. It's not exactly roughing it! Tons of top roping at smoke bluffs.

That said, there is most certainly MORE to do around here in the Hudson Valley for non-wilderness types, particularly if you add in NYC which can easily be done in a day round trip by bus if don't want to deal with city parking/driving (an acquired taste for sure).

BTW in Acadia it'd be easy to stay in Bar Harbor or Southwest Harbor. No need to camp. Quite pricey at that time of year though.
rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

Acadia is pretty cool. Bar Harbor is nice and touristy, and everything is on a small scale, with top-ropeable sea cliffs and some bigger inland crags. Lots of beautiful relatively short hikes and a beach (with cold ocean water). You don't have to camp, you can stay in a motel. Pick one outside of town and you won't necessarily pay an arm and a leg.

The worst part is the crowds, and in my limited experience being there during the week is no cure for that. In can be very hard to park in town in the evening, and very hard to find spaces in the limited-size turnouts for hikes and climbs. A major portion of the park road system is one-way, and if you keep getting skunked at turnouts you can be funneled into a full loop.

The best idea is to get started really early, which may not be so easy with a small child. Or, there are loop busses, which I didn't use, but which might well be the answer. All in all, New Paltz is going to be hotter, arguably not as scenic, but a lot lower stress.

ChrisN · · Morro Bay, CA · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

If you must be on the East Coast in July and are looking for non climber activities as well, consider a loop incorporating the White Mountains and the Maine seacoast.

Great climbing and hiking in the Whites and North Conway is a family friendly tourist town. 4hr drive over to Bar Harbor. Stay in Blue Hill or Castine to avoid the debacle that is Bar Harbor. Less than one hour drive over to Acadia for your climbing and site seeing fix.

Portland, ME makes a nice jumping off point for the loop.

The Maine seacoast in the summer is a special place and the climbing at Acadia on the pink granite is one of a kind.

The Whites are great too, very rugged hiking and some classic granite trad climbing.

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361

I can already tell this thread is going to get long and stuffed with MANY options (and opinions). So here's my $0.02 Mind as well.

Going back to rgold's post - his strategy is sound and once upon a time I would travel down to the Gunks to chase shadows during the summer. Then I feel with wisdom and equal driving access (2 hours from my home), I started to only climb elsewhere in the Adirondacks during the warmer summer months. Neither location is perfect during the summer, the ADK high peaks can hold on to black flies longer. But the Gunks have chiggers. Neither fully escapes the humidity, and the ADKs can get very warm in the summer despite latitude and elevation. I've on occasion had issues getting on quality climbs in the ADKs in the summer, but generally the cliffs are much less busy than the Gunks.

If my vacation plans are any indication of what some of us practice in the Northeast - during the summer I head West (not southwest, ie Red Rocks is best Spring/Fall). This year it's Utah and Wyoming in August.

I also wanted to second the notion that heading East, across the country, to climb during the summer is not particularly the best time. Spring and especially Fall are the best seasons. Winter and summer are literal extremes, and it can be wet during some summers (last summer was unusually dry, which is rare/why it's worth mentioning).

Acadia can be expensive compared to the Adirondacks and Whites. But there's Bar Harbor and plenty of things to keep you occupied inbetween climbing.

Regarding the wife and kid, the Boston area might be worth exploring depending on what cultural things you are thinking of filling your time. Hotels would be cheaper a little ways out of town (or Airbnb), and you're 1.5-3 hours way from climbing at Rumney, Cathedral, etc. IMO this gives you more climbing variety than the Gunks, which is for the most part a particular style. From Boston you could explore Cape Cod (one of my favorites), or even head up to Acadia for a few days. Two weeks is quite a bit of time and you could, as ChrisN suggested, make a big loop and get several locations in. I would pick Boston over Portland for increased flight accessibility/ease, and the general abundance of things to do. But I agree 100% that thinking in terms of doing multiple places is your best bet.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Hmm...I would have pegged Utah as too hot that time of year, unless you're not hitting the desert regions. I assume no Moab/Arches? We're not dead-set on the east, more against the south, but again with specific criteria. Squamish would be perfect (and is my #1 choice), but the Gunks are relatively easy to get to and New Paltz checks off a lot of boxes, weather of course being a check...minus?

Kevin Heckeler · · Upstate New York · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 1,361
Ted Pinson wrote:Hmm...I would have pegged Utah as too hot that time of year, unless you're not hitting the desert regions. I assume no Moab/Arches?
We're heading north from Salt Lake. Doing some stuff at elevation and eventually Tetons. ;-)

https://utah.com/salt-lake-city/canyons
Rob D. · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2011 · Points: 30

because of teacher calendar I climb for most of the summer. My daily was on the wall by 8, take a super long lunch break between 10/11 - 2. At 2 a good portion of the climbs can be climbed in the shade if you chase it and there are always places like the seasons that stay relatively shaded most of the time anyway. Maybe go swim, but always climb until pretty late when it's nice.

going north to the adirondacks is a better option and it gives you more options for when weather moves in.

RichBeBe · · New York City, NY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0

I know it is sacrilegious in the Gunks, but in the summer sometimes only do the first pitch to somewhat keep out of the sun.
Doesn't check off a lot of boxes, but Rumney can be a better summer choice as most of the climbs are single-pitch and easier to chase shade.

Logan Schiff · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 45

I climb in July when it's below 90 or so. Keep meaning to try taking a break midday but never seems to happen and usually am wasted by 4pm but rarely regret getting out. Definitely have bailed/cursed up a storm on more balancy stuff. Aim for shady climbs a grade below your limit.

Dacks is awesome and very family friendly. Amazing camping too.

One place on my bucket list for July climbing that is family friendly and fun for non-climbers but will cost you is the Dolomites. Christian Fracchia the gunksapps creator was posting amazing shots last summer while I was sweating in the gunks.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply