Shawangunks, Catskills
Rock climbing lessons in the Gunks? Get a grip!

From the April 22, 2002 Issue of New York

The Shawangunks ("Gunks" for short) are a set of sheer quartz cliffs and outcroppings at the southern edge of the Catskills. It's the perfect place to learn to climb, which is easier than it looks and much more fun than the climbing wall at Chelsea Piers. With the help of a professional guide, you'll be clambering up and rappelling down the easy routes in an hour. Rent gear and hire a guide through Rock and Snow in New Paltz or the EMS shop in Gardiner. Afterward, muscles that have turned to jelly are easily restored with a hearty meal at Chefs on Fire, a subterranean bistro in High Falls, or weekend brunch at the Clove Cafe. For a real Catskills experience, head for the Log Cabin in Kerhonkson, a funky way station with homemade Ukrainian fare and the fastest Ms. Pac-Man game north of Chinatown. Plenty of bed-and-breakfasts, a few aging motels, and newcomer Minnewaska Lodge offer accommodations.

Rock and Snow (845-255-1311); EMS (one-day climbing lessons start at $170; 845-255-3280); Chefs on Fire (845-687-7778); Clove Cafe (845-687-7911); Minnewaska Lodge (from $189; 845-255-1110 or


Photograph: Brian Doben