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Poison Ivy Wall

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
"49" S 
Cadet Buster S,TR 
Coach's Route S 
Done Broke the Code S,TR 
Dr Death S,TR 
Gunkish S,TR 
Happy Falling to You S,TR 
Hot Wire S,TR 
I’m Going ... Oh I’m Going Nowhere! S,TR 
Knob and Chain S 
Know The Code S 
Laws of Physics are strictly enforced, The S 
May the net Forces be with You S 
Message to Garcia S,TR 
Mitch's Route S,TR 
Nose S,TR 
Not So Fast S 
Opposition AKA Here it comes S,TR 
Perfect Face S 
Pink Butt Tights S 
Razzle Dazzle S 
Reach of Faith  S,TR 
Rock Hard S 
S&S Left S,TR 
S&S Right S,TR 
Sally S 
Savage Within aka Bloody Sister 1, The S,TR 
Side Pull Plus S 
Spank-A-Saurus S,TR 
Triple Banger Overhanger S,TR 
Window on the Hudson S,TR 
Ziggy's Overhang S,TR 

Poison Ivy Wall Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 41.37754, -73.9596 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 13,603
Administrator: Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Giuseppe Cavallo on Oct 11, 2011  with updates from Byron Igoe
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Railroad Ties are numbered on East side of tracks at PI Wall for easy route identification.

Getting There 

¾ mile south of South Dock along the RR tracks
Currently no parking is allowed at the Marina or McDonalds. Recommended parking is at the Visitor Center.

Climbing Season

Weather station 0.6 miles from here

32 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',12],['2 Stars',16],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Poison Ivy Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Poison Ivy Wall:
Coach's Route   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Sport, 1 pitch, 35'   
Pink Butt Tights   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Reach of Faith    5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch   
Window on the Hudson   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch   
Nose   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 90'   
Side Pull Plus   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch   
Message to Garcia   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch   
Triple Banger Overhanger   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch   
The Savage Within aka Bloody Sister 1   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, TR, 1 pitch   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Poison Ivy Wall

Featured Route For Poison Ivy Wall
Rock Climbing Photo: Gunkish

Gunkish 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b  New York : West Point : Poison Ivy Wall
The historic "official" difficulty grade is 5.6The historic route description was:"Climb 3’ left of corner, turning the left end of the overhang to ledge, and continue up to another left facing corner capped by 2’ overhang. Pass over this directly to a series of small corners facing left to rap/belay station ...V1: Go up corner and directly over lip of 1st hang."Nowadays the upper section has two distinct lines of bolts -- see Comments below.Actually the only Gunks-like thing here is the oc...[more]   Browse More Classics in New York

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 24, 2017
By kenr
Nov 4, 2012
Getting There

-> This has all changed after 2014.
-> Must read the new info further below.

. (I am retaining my old description of the Old way, just in case the policies of the railroad company or US Military Academy change) .

the Old way before 2014, was ...
. (for those lacking US military ID) . (as of 2012):
Take route 9W then route 218 to Highland Falls NY. About 0.1 mile (200 meters) south of Thayer Gate of the U.S. Military Academy ("West Point") is a McDonalds restaurant. If coming from the south, then immediately before McD, turn Right (East) on Station Rd, which goes down a steep hill with a sharp curve or two. Meet railroad tracks at bottom of hill -
. GPS latitude/longitude approx (N41.3748 W73.9608)
The ancient railroad station is to the south past a parking lot. That parking is private.

But where to park is tricky -- see more recent comments below.
. (Obvious place would be the Visitors Canter for the U.S. Military Academy,
. . just south from the top of Station Rd
. . GPS latitude longitude approx (N41.3739 W73.9631)

From the bottom of Station Rd, the rock of the PI Wall is north about 0.4 mile (700 meters) alongside the west side of the railroad tracks.
GPS latitude/longitude approx (N41.3810 W73.9581)

But now after 2014 there are issues about walking in along the railroad tracks -- see more recent comments below.
By kenr
Nov 4, 2012
The PI Wall is a mostly less than vertical, but with many short interesting overhanging sections. The less-than-vertical "slab" sections tend to have lots of interesting thoughtful footwork and creative hand-holds.

There are roughly 65 single-pitch routes (as of 2012).
I think some of the routes might be higher than 80 feet / 25 meters, but most are less than 100 feet / 30 meters high.
Names of most of the routes are carefully painted on the rock at the base (as of 2012).

My understanding is that the crag is on U.S. Military Academy land. The cleaning and and design of routes and placement of bolts was done by the West Point USMA Climbing team, especially then-coach Ned Crossley, who wrote a detailed guide to climbing at PI Wall and other crags on or near USMA. The USMA Climbing team organized (until at least 2013) an annual ClimberFest day event open to the public. For the most current info on permissions or restrictions for PI Wall climbing or access, I suggest contacting USMA authorities, especially try to get in touch with the coach of the Climbing team.

Sport climbing: Most of the routes are bolted for placing quick-draws as protection, and have two-bolt anchors at their top. But since this crag is overall less-than-vertical, a lead climber is likely to hit something if they fall, and if hit the wrong thing (or the right thing the wrong way) the leader will get hurt.

Also note that many key footholds (and handholds) here are slopy and non-positive, so could be tricky and scary to stand to place a quickdraw and then clip the rope -- more often here than the clipping stances at many Sport-climbiing crags.
So the PI Wall is likely not a good choice for indoor climbers making the transition to outdoor Sport leading (because indoor gym leaders tend to be accustomed to positive footholds at clipping stances, more-than-vertical routes where it's safe to take leader falls, and "soft" difficulty grades).

Top-Rope: This cliff is also set up for Top-Roping by access to above the cliff by class 4 scrambling. Reaching most of the bolt top anchors from above requires a short rappel. In many cases there are additional anchors above the top of the wall to make it convenient to rappel down to the bolt anchor (in the rock just below the top of the wall) for the desired climbing route.

Difficulty Grades: My opinion is that the historic "official" (from the old West Point guide) difficulty ratings (which have been copied into most of the route descriptions so far here on MountainProject as of 2012) are a bit tough compared to the Gunks -- and the Gunks are already a bit tough compared to the general USA "Yosemite" grades.
So a comment on a route which says like,
"The historic official grade is 5.7"
I'm thinking that can be taken as a suggestion that this route might be significantly tougher than 5.7 routes at many other places.

Loose rock -- it happens here sometimes: I'd recommend that belayers should wear a helmet.

The cliff is at low altitude, roughly sea level, alongside the Hudson River. It faces roughly East.
By kenr
Nov 7, 2012
my impressions so far ...

  • Texture of the rock surface is not as coarse as the Gunks, so it can feel slippery to the hands, but I find that the friction is generally pretty good with clean dry climbing rubber on the feet. (Though if you're not accustomed to carefully placing and really trusting your feet on small slopy holds, be prepared to stick-clip the starts of some of the climbs, especially the slab routes near the north end.)

  • Not recommended for a first outdoor sport Lead for those who learned to climb at indoor walls -- because the demand for confident skillful footwork is so radical.

  • Some of the easier routes have interesting slab/friction moves.

  • Some of the 10s are pretty interesting: e.g. Triple Banger Overhanger, Message to Garcia, Spank-A-Saurus, S&S Right.
By Eddie2170
From: Orange County, NY
Dec 5, 2012
This was my first crag, I've spent a good amount of time here, and have spent time with WP Cadets and climbed with them here. This is a great area for local sport climbing and due to the great nature of the bolts, walk offs, and scrambles to the top for retrieving gear or setting up TR, is great for honing skills.

If anyone would like to meet up here, would like some info, or even a full list of climbs please contact me.

As stated above the rock quality is probably the only downside to this crag, due to the rock being blasted and the constant trains going by, but other than that and the rockfall potential it is worth some day trips for the local climber.

The easiest time to climb here is in October for Climbfest the yearly fundraiser for the West Point Cadet Climbing Team who also maintains the area and bolts, they set up every climb as a toprope climb and it's run like a friendly competition, seriously check it out, it is the teams only fundraiser and they rely on it because it is a club sport and is not supported by the Academy, and it is honestly a great time.
By AnJ
May 3, 2013
This Official Guide from west point is over 10 years old but it does still have plenty of relevant information.
By sw050421
May 27, 2014

As of May 1, 2014 - Parking at railroad tracks (below Mcdonald's) is no longer available.

Stoped by Poison Ivy yesterday (Mem Day 2014) and was given an update on parking.

The great gentleman that owns the dock and parking area has new insurance that does not allow him to have visiting climbers park in his area, as of May 1, 2014. This is the option that use to cost $5 per car.

In addition, he mentioned that several climbers had been "chased" out of the Mcdonald's parking lot.

Recommendation is to find street parking and take the hike down. FYI, most main st parking has a 2 hour limit, check out the side roads to find open spots.

have fun, be safe!
By Chris6190
May 30, 2014
FYI guys - parking at the marina is no longer an option - there was a sign there on May 29th of 2014 saying that as of May 1, 2014 parking was no longer allowed there. On the upside, we did still have a great day clinbing there. It's no Gunks, but what is? In my humble opinion the ratings are totally sandbagged, but if you go in with that bit of knowledge you can have a great day. No one from the Academy bothered us at all and we actually had a truck from CXS drive right by us, we waved at him, said hi, he waved back and drove on. No issues at all. My first time there, so we will see how future trips go.
By kenr
Jun 5, 2014
Parking change as of May 2014 ...
Sharon and I drove down to the marina on the train tracks alongside the River (south of the cliff) to park. Saw a new sign said parking is no longer allowed as of May 1, 2014. Just a couple weeks ago before in April I had paid the guy $5 and parked there.

I went over and talked to him, and he said his insurance would no longer allow parking. Suggested we park up at the West Point Visitors center instead.

So I left Sharon and our rope and draws and packs at the marina, drove up and easily found parking at the Visitors center
. GPS latitude longitude approx (N41.3739 W73.9631) .
Then I jogged back down to Sharon. We had a nice day of climbing. Afterward I hiked up and drove the car down to pick up Sharon and our gear.


P.S. No point in parking illegally in the McDonalds lot. The Visitors Center parking is only another 30-60 seconds walking.
By kenr
Nov 12, 2014
Walking access as of November 2014:
We saw a new sign beside the railroad track at the bottom of Station Rd, identified by "CSX corp" (? the railroad company ?) and saying "No Trespassing", with a standard pictorial symbol of a person walking with a circle around it and a diagonal slash over the person.

I don't know the legal issues or the history.

The PI Wall rock itself is at least 20 feet away from the railroad track. It's on the west side, so there is no need to cross the track in order to walk to it. But walking alongside the track from the south requires getting much closer to it than 20 feet.

I've heard there is alternate walking/scrambling access (to the top of the cliff) from the south which stays far away from the railroad track: Traverses a steep slope west above the tracks (and below USMC buildings such as Thayer Hall). I've heard this way is not more difficult than what climbers use to access lots of other good climbing crags in USA. Some tricky points are knowing when you've arrived at the top of the cliff, and how + where to scramble down (? class 4 ?) or rappel to the reach the bottom of the crag.

I assume this access route is on U.S. Military Academy land, so I presume it's subject to the same restrictions or permissions as the PI Wall crag itself.

Hopefully someone who knows more and better than me will offer more definitive guidance.
By kenr
Mar 13, 2015
I had the good luck a couple of weeks ago to run into a climber who knew lots more about the history and legalities than me -- said it’s too bad about the complexity of access to the PI Wall now with the change in policy of the railroad. Likely that influenced the USMA climbing team to decide not to hold their PI Wall festival/competition in Fall 2014.

Said that walking in alongside the train tracks is trespassing on railroad company right-of-way. But hiking in from the south across the hillside above the tracks without authorization is trespassing on US Military Academy land. So perhaps best is simply to go to one of the official entry gates for USMA, present appropriate ID, and request permission to enter USMA as a tourist visitor.

. (Details of where to park inside USMA and how visitors might then access the cliff remain to be figured out) .
By CPetersen
Jan 12, 2016
Hey all,

I was climbing PIW this past fall with my son. We had a great time, our second time at the wall and we love it. My question is about the lead routes on the far right. It is labeled Pain in the A$$ but there seems to be a couple of different routes one could take. We stayed far right at the top and didn't use the arret at all. This made for one pumpy, awesome route. Very thin and slab-esque. Does anyone have an idea what this route would be rated?

By Courtney Dunne
Aug 20, 2016
So Im coming up from Newfoundland, and would like to climb at the PI wall. Or is it illegal to do that now? Also any pointers for this area?
By LB Edwards
From: Brooklyn, NY
Feb 24, 2017
Any sort of updates on this climbing area? Is the PIW good to climb on and everything else closed?

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