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Routes in q. Chalkboard Wall

Bronto Platter T,TR 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13
Cool Cave Chimney T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13
Detention TR 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
Dunce's Corner T,TR 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Final Exam TR 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Honey Badger Don't Care TR 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
Milil's Magic Arete TR 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Pop Quiz T,TR 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
School Chimney TR 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Standardized Testing T,TR 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13
Summer School TR 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Writer's Block TR 5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a
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Type: TR, 70 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 1,548 total · 25/month
Shared By: burboeck on Nov 4, 2013
Admins: JSH

You & This Route

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This is the single route up the wall just to the right of Standardized Testing and Dunces Corner. The climb ascends mainly up the center of the wall moving slightly left along the way.

See JoeNY's comment below for a more detailed description.


Facing the main Chalkboard wall that hosts Dunces Corner and Pop Quiz, turn 90 degrees to the right and you're facing the wall with Writer's Block.


Gear anchor at the top, no bolts.

See comment below for lead pro, and setting up a TR and directionals.


This is an amazing route. I am surprised that there wasn't much info on this route on the web. It feels more like hard 5.11 than 5.12 but I was on top rope. If you are up for it, this route can definitely be led from ground up with plenty of straightforward horizontal placements; I would consider it PG for protection. Below is the route description based on my personal experience. Thanks to Deepak for taking the photos and my girlfriend Jing for patient belay.

The route shares the same start as Milil's Magic Arete. Lie-back on the open flake and break left to the slightly slanting vertical crack. Move up to the big horizontal. Make a tricky traverse to the left of the horizontal white streaks just slightly above you. Move up to the next good horizontal. The climbing from the right facing ramp to the left facing flake is relatively straightforward on crimps with marginal gear (if you are on lead). Climb to the middle section of the small roof and traverse left to gain the left facing flake system. Following the flake/ramp to the right will make it an easy finish as the climbing is 5.6 on the right side. If you move straight up (see photo), you will encounter the crux at the most overhanging section of the wall. Contrary to what it appears from the ground, you don't need to use the vertical hairline crack with white streaks at all. Move up to the big horizontal. From there, you have a few options to top out and celebrate.

Here is how I rigged the top-rope. At the top of cliff, there are a bunch of pine trees but it is illegal to use them for anchor. A gear anchor can be reasonably set up using the horizontal crack at the top of the climb. If you are facing the cliff, there is a decent ramp on your left that you can take two steps down to access the horizontal crack. There is a bomber placement for a BD #4 cam; I also used #0.75 and #0.4. SAFETY NOTE: I set up a static rope from the tree to protect myself as it is quite sketchy to reach out to place the cams and a slip would definitely spell doom. I then backed up the gear anchor with the static line tied to the tree but without loading the tree (again, it is illegal to use them for anchor).

Given the wall is a little overhanging and the route goes from right to left of the wall, I placed several cams along the route to avoid big swings. Please see beta photo posted. You can scramble up the big boulders on the left to get to the middle section of the wall which is relatively easy to climb up to the left facing flake. I placed a cam at the bottom of the left facing flake to keep the rope close to the wall. Then, my belayer lowered me down to place a couple more towards the right side of the wall (it was a tiring process). Important cams placement include:
1. Above the start
2. Above the slightly slanting vertical crack
3. Above the tricky traverse
4. Below the left facing flake

This may sound like a lot of work and it is but the climb is definitely worth all the trouble. If you climb at this level, it can be a good project. Maybe one day I will attempt to lead it :)

It is cool to know that someone led it:… May 6, 2014
Nicolas Falacci
Pasadena, CA
Nicolas Falacci   Pasadena, CA
I only did this route once and it may have been the first time anyone climbed it. Though, I only did it on top-rope.

I agree about the quality and the difficulty. Once up on the main face, the climbing is classic Gunks steep face. It's a clean, beautiful sweep of rock with a nice broken series of small left-facing corners. The crux, I believe, is almost the last move, coming off the last flake with a power move to a nice horizontal. I would also agree that one can make the argument the route is closer to 11d. Maybe 12a. And maybe leading it is a different beast. But when you consider The Sting is 11d, it's definitely hard to call this one 12b.

I was only on TR, but I was able to climb the route on the first try and there was zero chalk as this was back in 1993. I was climbing well back then, but I had never on-sighted 12b. If something was 12a, it usually meant it would take me 2-3 tries. It's possible I was climbing well enough that day to have flashed 12a. But when I compare this route to other 12a routes I was climbing back then, like Bone Hard, To Be Or Not To Be, Man Who Fell To Earth or Eraserhead, it seems a letter grade easier. It might also be that the crux move is very straightforward and if you're good at lock-off power moves, it will feel easier.

How I wound up climbing this back in 1993: I was working at one of the Manhattan EMS stores back then and the manager volunteered me for advertising photo shoot. The shoot was for a truck, I don't remember what make, and also for EMS clothes and gear. There were half a dozen "models" (a bunch of outdoorsy 20somethings) and one of them was a local climbing guide (I've forgotten his name, but he apparently had been putting up some new in the Gunks at the time). We all met at the Lake Minnewaska ranger station. Then we were driven over to a location at Peterskill. I had never been there before and I didn't know anyone who had ever climbed there and I was blown away by all the quality rock in this closed-to-climbing location.

The guide and I were the only climbers there and we were psyched to try and get a chance to climb something. I couldn't believe the bouldering available, but this was well before the big bouldering trend and I was more focused on the taller cliffs. Early on, the guide and I had 30 minutes to go scout around the cliffs. I eyed the orange sweep of Writer's Block through the trees (it was early December) and we headed off to check it out. The overhanging wall was clean and it looked like it would go. The guide had his eye on the arete to the right. But ... we had to get back to the shoot.

It was a cloudy cold day, but fortune shined down us as we were told that they had brought the wrong model truck for the shoot. We would have to wait a couple hours while the right one was driven up from Jersey. Oh dear! How would we pass the time?

The guide and I immediately grabbed our packs and headed off for the wall. I set up a TR anchor for the orange wall while the guide scoped out the arete for a lead. After I finished setting the anchor, I came down and belayed the guide for his FFA of the arete. He got up without much trouble and then I cleaned it. We thought it was a nice line, maybe 10a, maybe 9+ in the old Gunks tradition. The only down side to the route was that you could step off right in several places if you needed a break. But if you stuck to the face just right of the arete, the position was beautiful.

Then we went for the orange face and I went first on the top-rope. I remember the lower part of the face being very nice, clean moves with holds showing up just when you needed them ... hard 10 to 11b maybe. Then once you got to the top of the last big flake there was a crux move. I found the key hold for the left hand and the right foot placement and it was a wonderful lock-off power move ... and then it was just a few more moves to the top. I remember loving that wall, but also wishing it was another 30-50 higher!

We didn't talk about naming the routes (we were in a definite no-climbing area), but I think the guide may have provided the names later. Since he led the arete in 1993 from the ground up, he almost certainly had the FFA and had naming rights. Also, while we hanging out during the day and getting to know each other, I told the guide how, despite working at EMS, I was also a writer (I had sold a screenplay three years earlier to a studio and was trying to get another one sold). So the fact that the route wound up with the name "Writers Block," makes me think the guide later named the two routes. As I said, we only top-roped the steep wall. But given how focused the guide was on putting up new climbs, I have to think there is no doubt he went back to that climb and led it from the ground up.

I guess someone else may have first led it and named it Writers Block ... but that would be a pretty wild coincidence.

Anyway ... that's my story about this route. It was definitely very exciting to find a new piece of rock from a distance, find it hasd an awesome route on it ... and then later have the location opened up to others so they can enjoy as well. Especially in the Gunks.

I wound up moving to Los Angeles a couple months later. And it was a good thing too because I don't know how I would have been able to keep myself from going back to Peterskill despite it being closed at the time. May 6, 2016

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