Type: Trad, 120 ft
FA: Hans Kraus, Fritz Wiessner, 1941
Page Views: 37,826 total · 238/month
Shared By: Guy H. on Feb 23, 2006
Admins: JSH

You & This Route

710 Opinions

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures 2019 Details


This is probably the best single pitch of 5.5 at the Trapps. The climbing so steep, you can't believe you are on a 5.5! The start is to the left of Laurel and to the right of Nosedive, at a crack system with the stump of a tall skinny tree about 15' up, below a huge hanging corner that you'll soon be walking out.

P1: Start in the obvious crack system leading to the large right-facing dihedral that starts 25' off the ground. Clip a fixed pin at the roof, and continue up the fun dihedral. At the tiered roof above, traverse left around the nose to a small ledge. (Optional belay here at pins).

One can also climb directly up through the corner rather than traversing left onto the face. It probably ups the rating a half-grade - maybe - but takes great pro, has tremendous fingerlocks, and feels awesome.

Continue up the crack and face to the top of the cliff. A real gem...

Descent: Walking down by the Uberfall Descent is usually the best option; walk north, trending close to the cliff edge, until you find yourself atop of Ken's crack.

You can rap with two ropes from a tree to the left, but consider that the carriage road is at its busiest point here, with dogs and babies and cyclists and tourists hanging out -right- where your ropes will land, blindly, when you toss them.  

A single 70m does get you to the ground, and there are reports of some 60m ropes getting there with rope stretch and/or downclimbing -- but the last 40' of the rappel are free-hanging, making errors very difficult to correct.


Standard Rack.
Paul Crowder  
This is a great route, with what seems like a lot of exposure on the traverse left to the arete, above the large roof. You can establish a somewhat hanging belay at the arete, at the end of the traverse, if your second will need a lot of encouragement on the traverse. This is the "optional belay" that is referred to in the route description. I once enountered a very large black snake in the horizontal crack that you use for your hands as you do the traverse. I shouted "Shoo! Shoo!" at the snake, until it retreated far enough into the crack that I could (very, very quickly) traverse past it. My partner on that day, Bryan MacDonald, who has a serious snake phobia, was horrified. Folks who come from afar to climb at the Gunks should be alert for unusual wildlife encounters at the crag. Mar 12, 2006
1Eric Rhicard
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
Try to find one route in SE Arizona that is that cool. You can't. It is climbs like that that make the Gunks so fun. Steep enough to feel like real climbing. More than one pitch. Nice air and it is so easy even a total beginner can succeed. I love this route. Feb 29, 2008
The climbing is really great and the gear is good, but the noise from the road can be a major bummer for this climb and the others at the Uberfall. So much so that communication will be a problem if you run both pitches together. Mar 26, 2009
gblauer Blauer
Wayne, PA
gblauer Blauer   Wayne, PA
This is a great climb, best done in a single pitch. The first pitch is getting a bit polished in places, but, it's still great. P2 is just pure climbing pleasure. Apr 18, 2009
Jay Harrison  
One can also climb directly through the corner in one pitch rather than traversing left onto the face. It probably ups the rating a half-grade - maybe - but takes great pro, has tremendous fingerlocks, and feels awesome.
Be careful with how the rope runs if you do this, as it can jam in the crack at the lip of the OH. Jan 17, 2010
I just spent a day with two climbers for their first day at the Gunks. I have to agree with the polish question - the crux of Frogs Head is pretty hard for 5.6- with all the polish, and we encountered some smooth spots on Horseman as well.

I've never heard anyone question the rating of Horseman in 20 years. It might be the defining 5.5 in the Gunks. Does anyone claim that there isn't some 5.5 climbing in the last half of the second pitch? Jul 26, 2010
Albuquerque, NM
farkas.time   Albuquerque, NM
Excellent, excellent moderate climb. Pro is abundant, but tricky, and crux is a little committing, so I wouldn't recommend for a beginner lead, despite the grade. May 29, 2012
Logan Schiff
Brooklyn, NY
Logan Schiff   Brooklyn, NY
Great climb! Moves are on the soft side for Gunks 5.5, but I still find it a somewhat heady/uncomfortable lead. Gear placement is ample but occasionally thoughtful, good amount of exposure, some of the footholds before the traverse are a tiny bit awkward, and there is the potential for a good amount of rope drag if you don't extend enough. Jul 25, 2012

What happened to the tree on p1?
Time, love & tenderness. Apr 9, 2013
I found the big corner / dihedral had lots of awkward moves. Not many with elegant stemming, and fewer of those if your legs aren't fairly long.

Overall a interesting + great climb, but don't be surprised if you can't find an elegant way to do much of the dihedral.

I think the direct variation (continuing up the corner where it gets overhanging along left side of roof) is pretty fun (though likely much harder for people less tall than 5ft5inch). Jul 12, 2014
Kevin Heckeler
Las Vegas, NV
Kevin Heckeler   Las Vegas, NV
The rope on the first anchor is getting weathered and the backside of the knot is worn through the sheath. IMO the climb is better combining both pitches to the top anyway (just watch the rap from the top, requires a 70m - or just walkoff right). Feb 22, 2016
David Stephenson
Mount Wellington, Tasmania
David Stephenson   Mount Wellington, Tasmania
Great route - it is graded 5.4 in 1972 Williams guide. I first led it around 1972, possibly placing pitons on lead.....glad we don't do it that way anymore. I think the first Chouinard hexcentrics came out around that time, hastening the "clean climbing" revolution. Many Gunks climbs were pretty dicey with only passive nuts, hence the placing of fixed pins prior to cams. Aug 10, 2017
Shane Kenyon
Canandaigua (city), NY
Shane Kenyon   Canandaigua (city), NY
Being 6'4" I felt the high steps were more interesting than they might be for a shorter person. Agree with some of the polish comments but just for the first 10-20 feet. Nov 18, 2017
David K
New Paltz, NY
David K   New Paltz, NY
I climbed the 5.6 variation that goes through the overhangs today and highly recommend it. Jun 19, 2018
B Randon
B Randon   Portlandia
This was my first ever lead on gear, the traverse is simple and there's really only one committing move afterwards. Gear was pretty easy to place, and there are stances everywhere on this route to do so. Sep 23, 2018