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Climbing the Shawangunk Mountains


Fabulous vertical climbing

Located approximately 90 miles north of New York City are the Shawangunk Mountains, or affectionately called “The Gunks,” and the range is considered some of the best rock and ice climbing in the World.

The Mohonk Preserve provides visitors access to over 6,500 acres of dramatic precipices nestled among the forests that overlook countless valley streams and postural settings. Most of the “Gunk”s climbing cliffs are located on the Mohonk Preserve.

It has been documented that the early 1950s might have seen 50 climbers on a busy day, and by the 1990s, up to 800. Today, the “Gunks” are considered world-class climbing, offering some of the best in the Eastern United States, and hosting roughly 50,000 climber-visits yearly.

The cliffs and overhangs create a wide variety of high-quality climbs of varying degrees of difficulty, from the beginner to the most experienced. The distinctively stark, white cliffs with quartz pebbles, deep fissures and sharp angles, provide multiple holds that will test all skill-levels. Climbers can access nearly 1,000 routes with more than five linear cliff-face miles, most having nearby parking and sanitary facilities. The Preserve has one of the best-trained rescue teams in the northeastern United States, so all level of climbers can climb more safely and with a sense of security.

The Shawangunk Mountains also are a “protected” refuge for rare and endangered plants and animals that have adapted to the year-round mountainous climates. These species are highlighted by the endangered Peregrine Falcon and almost countless acres of dwarfed Pitch Pine trees, stunted by the harsh winter growing-climate experienced high on the peaks and ridges.

The Nature Conservancy has designated the “Gunks” as one of Earth's "Last Great Places.” More than 1,400 species, including over 30 rare plants and animals include black bears, bobcats, warblers, timber rattlesnakes among others. Much of mountains are on private lands, and licensed guides with special permits are the only access to many designated climbing and trail routes. Listed below are several experienced guide-services, and a mountaineer gear shop that should be able to service your climbing needs.

WARNING! Rock climbing is a potentially hazardous sport. Making the right decisions for your skill-level, the protection and gear to use, the routes you are capable of climbing, and the information you can trust, are paramount to your successful trip. This is not intended to be the only source of information for those wishing to pursue the sport of rock climbing. Always check additional information with other sources before trusting your life to it! And, guides are highly recommended.

However, if you just want to walk amongst the “Gunks” and not climb them, while being pampered in a world class resort and spa, then simply check into the Mohonk Mountain House located in New Paltz. They’ll show you all the ropes too, if you decide to venture their resort's trails and cliffs!  And, you can have a message afterwards too!

In any event, you’ll be sure to enjoy this journey!

Alpine Endeavors, LLC
P.O Box 58
Rosendale, NY 12472
(845) 658-3094
Web site:

High Angle Adventures, Inc.
178 Hardenburgh Road
Ulster Park, NY 12487
(800) 777-CLIMB (2546)
(845) 658-9811
Jon Ross, Director
Web site:

Mountain Skills Climbing School
Mike Cimino,
AMGA Rock Instructor
(845) 781-8950
Web site:

Other Guide Related Links
American Mountain Guides Association

Rock & Snow (Equipment)
44 Main St.
New Paltz, NY 12561



  • bjt 5 years ago

    Love the article. Especially love anything to do with the Mohonk! More articles about it & its history would be wonderful.