Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst

5.6, Trad, 210 ft, 3 pitches,  Avg: 3.7 from 562 votes
FA: Hans Kraus, Harry Snyder, 1943
New York > Gunks > Trapps > f. The Guides' Wall (…
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures 2019 Details


Madame G's rivals High Exposure closely for the title of best Gunks 5.6. While High E has "the move", Madame G's has a longer section of sweet, steep 5.6 jugs up a massive, exposed and unique orange buttress formed by large left-facing (Southern Pillar, 5.2) and right-facing (Northern Pillar, 5.4) dihedrals on either side.

P1: Follow the thin crack to the tree. 5.4, 50'.

P2: Traverse right into a steep left-facing dihedral, with jugs and jams. At the top, traverse right and belay on a small stance at a horizontal crack. You'll want some hand-size cams for the belay. 5.6, 80'.

P3: Follow the chalk through multiple overhangs on huge jugs and steep terrain. Near the top, angle right through the final overhang and belay at bolts. 5.6, 80'.

You can combine P1/P2 or P2/P3. The best combination is P2/P3, because you'll skip the semi-hanging belay. Bring lots of long slings - both the climbing and the protection wander.

Descent: Rap twice down the Northern Pillar side of the buttress, from sets of bolts with a single 60m (or one long mostly-free rappel with 2x60m). The top bolts are somewhat hidden: peek around a large boulder on climber's right to find them. From the clifftop and other nearby routes, you'll need to scramble back down to the top of the buttress proper, then look for the bolts.

Pre-bolts, climbers had to rappel from the tree at the corner of the buttress - both getting on rappel, and the free-hanging rappel itself, were rites of passage for newer climbers.


Standard Rack; extra hand-size cams if linking pitches.


The Madame G's access trail is the first one after Minty, about a 9-min. walk from the Uberfall, and a 5-min. walk from where the East Trapps Connector trail meets the carriage road. When the leaves are down, you'll easily identify the orange buttress itself.

To start the route, come around the left toe of the buttress and start atop some boulders below a thin-crack system leading to a large oak tree.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

@kaufmanntaylor climbing the final moves of the second pitch.  Photo by @alpineasfuck
[Hide Photo] @kaufmanntaylor climbing the final moves of the second pitch. Photo by @alpineasfuck
Adrian on Madame G's, November 7, 2009
[Hide Photo] Adrian on Madame G's, November 7, 2009
non necessary finish
[Hide Photo] non necessary finish
Enjoying the jugs on a beautiful late summer day :)
[Hide Photo] Enjoying the jugs on a beautiful late summer day :)
Rapping off Madame G with two 70m ropes, climb can be seen to the left of the rap
[Hide Photo] Rapping off Madame G with two 70m ropes, climb can be seen to the left of the rap
Climber at the hanging belay.
[Hide Photo] Climber at the hanging belay.
Skytop and Smiley's Tower from mid way up Madame G.
[Hide Photo] Skytop and Smiley's Tower from mid way up Madame G.
Madame G's upper pitches and rap.
[Hide Photo] Madame G's upper pitches and rap.
Climber about 1/2 way up
[Hide Photo] Climber about 1/2 way up
Looking right to start of Northern Pillar and Guide's wall (face right of arete).
[Hide Photo] Looking right to start of Northern Pillar and Guide's wall (face right of arete).
Paul Deagle - Madam G's 5.6 view from hanging belay
[Hide Photo] Paul Deagle - Madam G's 5.6 view from hanging belay
Johanna bustin' moves on Madame G's, Fall 2008.
[Hide Photo] Johanna bustin' moves on Madame G's, Fall 2008.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Spfld, Ma
[Hide Comment] Another awesome route, The hanging belay still gets my attention. My second climb of the new year, we did it on New Years day. The climb was bone dry until the top out which was covered with an inch or so of snow... Jul 4, 2006
Jeff Welch
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] I wasn't really impressed by the belay opportunities in the middle to the headwall. Better to take some extra runners and link P2 and P3 together. Jun 15, 2008
[Hide Comment] This climb is even better if you do P1 of Columbia, just to the left as you face the rock. That makes the climb 5.8 though. That arching crack of Columbia is a lot harder than it looks. Oct 22, 2008
[Hide Comment] This is one of the climbs you gotta save for chilly autumn days and not do it in a 90-degree weather in June. I thought the corner of P2 was more challenging than the the bulge crux of P3. Jun 21, 2010
[Hide Comment] I'm not sure why you need to save this route for the autumn, any more than any other route. It does get sun, just like most climbs in the Trapps. It is my favorite 5.6 in the Gunks. Did P1 Columbia and linked Ps 2 & 3 of Madame G today-- it was hot but still special! Jun 21, 2010
[Hide Comment] This can be done in a single pitch with 60m double ropes. Followed by a single rap off the top with said doubles, this is how you get 'er done at the Gunks!

Best single pitch at the Gunks? In my opinion, it's up there with double crack, doubleissima from ground to GT ledge, Directissima arete linked with high-E, CCK direct or Bonnie's direct from ground to top. As I said before... Get 'er done!!! Nov 25, 2011
[Hide Comment] On a late morning I waited while the group ahead climbed in the full sun. By the time our group made it up, the sun had moved around and the exposed upper climb was now in the shade. Seems like you could pick your climbing time depending if you want the sun on you or not. Jun 16, 2013
[Hide Comment] I loved this so much more than High E, which I felt was over much too soon. This route was burly but juggy and everything was right there when you needed it. Impressive, sustained climbing from start to finish. I thought the P2 crux was the hardest part of the whole route, since I had trouble reaching out to the right corner. But after that, it was smooth sailing all the way to the top. Fantastic climb, and well worth its status as a Gunks classic! Jun 24, 2014
Dan Africk
Brooklyn, New York
[Hide Comment] Great route! Juggy and well protected throughout, except for a very short traverse on P2. After the climb you're rewarded with a long, airy, free-hanging rappel (1 rap with 2 ropes, or two raps with a single). If you bring new climbers, make sure they're prepared for it!

You'll need long slings on almost everything on the second pitch to prevent rope drag. If you combine Pitches 2 and 3, you'll have probably have significant rope drag anyway by the end, but not too bad if you're careful. Bring a ton of trad draws if you combine the pitches, or be prepared to run it out.. I would recommend doing it in 3 pitches, or combine the first two. Semi-hanging belay for the third pitch, but it's bomber.

Anchor Beta: It may not be obvious where to build the anchor for the Pitch 3 belay: Look for the piton- just right of the piton, and about 6 feet up, is a nice horizontal crack that will accept a variety of solid gear (I used a large walnut, red and brown tricams, and a #2 camalot. Smaller cams will fit also). If you hang right below this anchor you have a small but good stance with your feet, and a few feet below you is a slightly larger ledge that your second can use to belay you up the next pitch. Nov 9, 2014
Sam Fox
Burlington, VT
[Hide Comment] Fabulous route, amazing climbing, awesome rock, but just a tad bit chossy. I definitely didn't rip anything but I did always consider where I was placing my cams. I talked to some guys at the base who said "BD 1, 2, and 3 placements" could be found all over the place, but actually I found the .5 the most useful cam. I placed two on each pitch.

Speaking of pitches I almost accidentally did it in one on a single 70m, I pulled a thinnish crack to the left of a roof about 80% of the way up and ended up belaying off the weird horizontal crack. It took a bomber .75 down low, .3 in the middle, and a good nut a little higher up. Unfortunately this did not equal an anchor at a good stance but I did manage to half hang half sit on the little ledge below. Once my follower got to me and I got my trusty .5's back the last 20% went quickly, and with two good .5 placements.

High E was 5 stars, Madam G was 4 stars, for the belay and lose blocks. Apr 27, 2015
[Hide Comment] Easily among the best 5.6s in the Gunks, perhaps the universe. Better than High E? Disney Land? Frog's Head? Shockley's Ceiling? Decide for yourself, they are all spectacular. For me, the best one is the one I'm climbing at the moment.

The traditional start from the top of the boulders is definitely not the way to go. It's lame. Instead follow the thin seam directly below the big tree at the first belay. It does not change the grade of the route and the climbing is so good that some folks (including guides) set it up as a top rope. The other option of doing the Columbia start significantly raises the grade of the route.

Doing this route in three pitches is a silly waste of time. Link P2 and P3 for a comfy belay at the big tree, or link P1 and P2 to enjoy the adventure of the semi-hanging belay in the middle of the buttress. Link all three pitches if you're already skilled with (60m or longer) double ropes, but it's probably best not to learn that skill here. Regardless of how many pitches, make sure to bring plenty of shoulder length runners and use them wisely to avoid rope drag.

After pulling the crux bulge/ceiling on P3, the traditional route moves up and left to an easy arete avoiding the next roof. This deposits you on the extreme left side of the top of the buttress, with the rappel being on the extreme right side. A far better alternative is to pull straight through the next roof (a bit easier than the P3 crux) and continue diagonally up and right to an exit right next to the rappel anchors. This detour adds some really fun bonus climbing, still without raising the grade. Make sure to protect your second on the traverse.

Even if you're lucky and don't need to queue up at the start, you may still need to queue up at the rappel. A single rope is fine; just knot the ends and use the intermediate rap station. Two ropes gets you down quicker but sometimes lead to tangles on the ledges and trees on Northern Pillar. Either way, be very careful with the hordes below on the guide's wall.

Did I mention that this may be the best 5.6 in the universe? May 24, 2015
Arrak Bhattacharyya
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] If you are visiting and can only do one 5.6 in the gunks, do this one :). Awesome. Oct 6, 2016
Keyan P
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] I was able to do this in a single pitch with a single 70m. The rope drag wasn't bad, but I placed minimal gear and extended with double-length slings until the left facing dihedral.

Really great route :) Sep 11, 2017
Stone Ridge, NY
[Hide Comment] 60m rope juuuuuuust makes it to the top in one pitch but you gotta belay on the small tree at the exit (not the bolts 12 feet right). Sep 28, 2017
Paul N
Providence, RI
[Hide Comment] I did this route by linking P1 and P2 together. I set up a fairly comfortable belay near the piton...except for the hornet's nest we discovered. Luckily everyone was civil.

Great route! Jul 31, 2018
Max Zielinski
New Paltz, NY
[Hide Comment] This was the best route from my first weekend in the Gunks: totally classic jughaul up the orange face. The very first moves reaching the thin crack in the conglomerate rock felt more techy (harder) than the rest of the route, which felt much less pumpy than something like the upper part of High E. Just one kind of cruxy bulge just before the roofs, but the gear is there all the way. The midway belay ledge is better than expected and takes bomber hand-sized gear, and the rope drag was totally manageable with alpine draws. Go do it, it's awesome!! Sep 16, 2018
B Randon
[Hide Comment] This has got to be one of the most fun and memorable climbs I've ever done. My fourth trad lead! I wouldn't recommend it for a complete newbie unless very comfortable at the grade. The corner crack at the beginning of P2 felt like the crux of the thing to me, but once established on the pillar the rest is an amazing line up. Linking P2 & P3 is the way to go for this, awesome sustained moves throughout! Sep 23, 2018
David K
New Paltz, NY
[Hide Comment] When they say "You'll want some hand-sized cams for the belay" they are serious. I had only one hand-sized cam left at the end of P2 and was not at all excited to weight the shallow black tricam, tipped micro cam, and rusty piton that I supplemented it with. Fist size cams might be even better. Oct 1, 2018
brooklyn, ny
[Hide Comment] Linking the whole buttress in one mega pitch is the way to go. 70m rope, lots of slings, and wise placements gets you to the top sans rope drag and a big smile on your face :) Mar 11, 2019