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a. Beginning of cliff to Gelsa
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Gelsa 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 195'
Original:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Fritz Wiessner, Beckett Howorth, George Temple, 1942
Page Views: 36,021
Submitted By: Ron Olsen on Feb 23, 2006

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Nearing the top.

Description 

Gelsa is THE classic 5.4 route in the Gunks. The third-pitch corner is steep, exposed, and fun! Don't pass this one up, even if you're climbing at a harder grade.

Start by a tree growing out and up from the base of the cliff (see first picture below), about 20' left of Fat City Direct, at a pile of boulders below a blocky crack.

P1: Climb the blocky crack up to an overhang at ~20 ft, and continue no further upwards! Instead, traverse left to a ledge and belay by a tree. 5.3, 45'.

P2: Continue traversing left (var) past an overhang and into an alcove (you'll be just above the bolts for Roseland), then back up right to a crack and a face. Angle up left to a good ledge/alcove at the base of a huge, overhanging, right-facing corner, and make a belay on smaller gear here. 5.4, 60'.

Var: You can also diagonal up and left to the next belay, instead of traversing directly left. You'll end up climbing a slab towards the belay alcove at 5.6 or so.

P3: The money pitch. Climb up right and up (or, up and right - either way works) and follow the steep, exposed corner to the top. 5.4, 90'.

Walk off to climbers' right, and look for an easy scramble back to the cliff base just before you reach the road.

Protection 

Standard Rack. Pink and red Tricams are useful for the belay anchor at the end of the second pitch. A #3 Camalot is useful on the third pitch.


Photos of Gelsa Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Tricia starting up the big Gelsa corner.
Tricia starting up the big Gelsa corner.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climber leading P2
Unknown climber leading P2
Rock Climbing Photo: Finishing up P2.
Finishing up P2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Gelsa.  P1 is shorter than it looks, while P2 is l...
BETA PHOTO: Gelsa. P1 is shorter than it looks, while P2 is l...
Rock Climbing Photo: Craig Plescia on Gelsa 4/2016.
Craig Plescia on Gelsa 4/2016.
Rock Climbing Photo: Anthony topping out on Gelsa. Photo by Brian Aitke...
Anthony topping out on Gelsa. Photo by Brian Aitke...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up the fun 3rd pitch corner of Gelsa.
Starting up the fun 3rd pitch corner of Gelsa.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking back at the P2 belay.
Looking back at the P2 belay.
Rock Climbing Photo: The base of Gelsa, marked by the large tree growin...
The base of Gelsa, marked by the large tree growin...
Rock Climbing Photo: P1 Traverse
P1 Traverse
Rock Climbing Photo: Here is what the rap station for Gelsa looks like....
BETA PHOTO: Here is what the rap station for Gelsa looks like....
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the third pitch.
Looking down the third pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Anthony climbing the first pitch of Gelsa. Photo b...
Anthony climbing the first pitch of Gelsa. Photo b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Amato stemming up the third pitch.
Mike Amato stemming up the third pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting Gelsa
Starting Gelsa
Rock Climbing Photo: Are heel hooks really necessary on Gelsa?
Are heel hooks really necessary on Gelsa?
Rock Climbing Photo: P2 anchor for Gelsa. Take note of the small gear.
P2 anchor for Gelsa. Take note of the small gear.
Rock Climbing Photo: Jim Hoste lay backing on the second pitch of Gelsa...
Jim Hoste lay backing on the second pitch of Gelsa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Damon Farnum on the P1 traverse.
Damon Farnum on the P1 traverse.
Rock Climbing Photo: P2 Belay
P2 Belay
Rock Climbing Photo: P2 Anchor
BETA PHOTO: P2 Anchor
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing P2.
Climbing P2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Gelsa is really nice. Do it, even if it is embarra...
Gelsa is really nice. Do it, even if it is embarra...
Rock Climbing Photo: P2
P2

Show All 26 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Gelsa Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 4, 2017
By saxfiend
Administrator
From: Decatur, GA
Mar 27, 2007
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

This is really an outstanding climb, one of my favorite Gunks leads. P3 is hard to beat for great exposure and plentiful pro. Definitely a must-do at the Gunks.
By Matt Amory
From: Boulder CO
May 18, 2007

One of my first leads and favorite memories to this day. It was pouring rain by the time we reached the P2 Crux. I led the 3rd pitch straight up a freakin' waterfall. The sensation of being up on top after such a wild ride was amazing...
By James DeRoussel
From: Tucson, AZ
Jun 24, 2008

This is a superb climb, perhaps the best in the grade...anywhere. Where else can you climb an overhanging 5.4?
By JSH
Administrator
Jun 1, 2009

Take care to extend your clifftop belay back towards the cliff edge - communication back to the 2nd belay can be difficult. Also, be careful of loose rock on top!
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
May 19, 2010

It seemed like it would make sense to combine p1 & the first part of p2, belaying at the 2-bolt anchor (above Roseland?); then a 2nd pitch to the top from there.
By Larry S
From: Easton, Pennsylvania
Aug 2, 2010

A great line, the last pitch is great, but easy to get lost on the lower pitches and wander into harder terrain. Make sure you go up to the pitons, then traverse to the ledge (belay), then traverse from the ledge to the corner, then up to the second ledge.

For an alternative second pitch, you can take a fairly direct line towards the next belay. It ups the ante a little bit. It's not strenuous climbing at all, but it is more technical and has some slab climbing in the last 15 or so feet. The gear is all there with a shallow #1tcu to protect the slab. I inadvertently took that line a few years ago when i was a new leader and it scared me then. Climbed it this weekend to see how it felt now. It's a good alternative pitch that is probably around 5.6, but i might be overrating it. A few of the pictures showing P2 show this variation. Definitely easier to traverse and then go up.
By micah richard
From: Litchfield, Connecticut
Sep 5, 2011

Third pitch is very exposed and steep for the grade. Might be a little freaky for a new leader. there is gear everywhere but a lot of it is crappy. there are lots of loose blocks. that said , this is a super fun route not to be missed.
By kenr
Nov 6, 2011

Nice variety of moves for a 5.4. Perhaps not a good choice for inexperienced (or inattentive) leaders (or rather their followers), because of all the traversing at the beginning -- it's easy to forget to protect the follower. It could be also a bad choice for a leader with lots of indoor but not much outdoor experience -- because of the dependence on footwork just before and after the end of the beginning traversing.

I found the little BD cam #0 very useful on last pitch. For the recommended #3 I was able to substitute a big old hex someone gave me (maybe #11?). I was happy to use a big old #4 Friend higher up on the last pitch.
By Andy Weinmann
From: Silver Spring, MD
Oct 31, 2012

We ended up doing an alternate P3 because the original was a slimy mess and my friend's leading limit is about 5.6. I wasn't about to put her on that last pitch. Instead, she led up the blocky corner above the P2 belay then moved out left around the corner and onto the face. She climbed straight up this face and then moved back right near the top to join the original route for the last few moves. Still 5.4, but PG on gear and a little dirty. This alternate is in the Williams guide.

She also learned a good lesson in creating rope drag for herself with her gear placements. I ended up short-roping with the rest of the rope in a mountaineer's coil over my shoulder.

Oh and she led P3 in the dark with a headlamp. Couldn't be prouder of her for keeping her cool and getting it done!
By applewood
From: Tonasket, WA
Oct 31, 2013

Absolutely loved this climb - a real classic! The whole time I was leading the 3rd (final) pitch I had to keep reminding myself, "it's only 5.4, it's only 5.4". Then later looked in the guidebook and saw that pitch is actually rated 5.3!!! Just goes to show great climbing knows no grade...
By kswissto
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 13, 2014
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

1. Traverse after the optional belay: do not stop *at* the nose. Take a step left around the nose and the 5.6 slab moves that were daunting will become manageable 5.4 (protected) moves with feet *and* hands! The beta says you'll be "above" the Roseland anchors - but you'll sort of be parallel to them.

2. Double ropes help with rope drag management especially on and after the traverse. Also helps you protect your second if he/she is nervous about "exposed" traverses.

3. Last pitch is very chossy, especially on the left side of the corner. Lots of loose blocks. Be careful about the classic "reach for the jug" Gunks move on this climb. Gear is available - protected totally as G with certain larger gear (large cams/hexes, offset nuts).

4. The gear anchor for P2 (before beginning the last pitch) is pretty much mostly supported by .3 BD C4/X4 sizes or pink tricams. Consider yourself warned - and out of .3s for the last pitch :) Speaking of gear for the last pitch - I used a #11 Hex and a #3 and #4 BD C4. Made the pitch G instead of PG.
By David Kerkeslager
From: Brooklyn, NY
Sep 4, 2017
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c

This climb is as good as everyone says. Very fun climbing. A few finer points:

1. The jagged horizontal crack near the beginning (but above the block) isn't as great for cams as it might initially seem. The jagged-ness of the sides of the crack cause cams on the smaller side to have very little surface area and move, and cams on the larger side to become fixed. The jaggedness makes this a perfect tricam placement, but it's on the larger side of what most tricams most carry. Don't lose your cams or place ineffective gear! There are other protection options.

2. There's no conceivable reason I can imagine to separate the first two pitches. The rope drag exists, but it's not bad enough to justify that first belay.

3. The third pitch definitely has some very loose blocks. Be careful what you grab.

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