Our man Bosley Sidwell reports from New Paltz, NY:

Readers of this journal will be interested to learn that the first phase of the Shawangunks Enclosure Project has been completed. All routes from the Uberfall to Moshe’s Mistake may now be regarded as indoors. Almost two years of construction have been crowned by success. Following more modest enterprises elsewhere (Hueco Tanks, City of Rocks), work on this first segment was begun in May 2019. Despite noisy opposition from such groups as Friends of the Shawangunks the project has proceeded smoothly, except for an unfortunate incident last winter when falling scaffolding destroyed two inconsequential routes.

Now climbers in this area no longer have to endure such inconveniences as rain, snow, cold weather and wasps. (The problem of darkness is soon to be addressed--see below.) The procedure is as follows: simply present your GunksCard at the main entrance (just right of the new café and spa). You then select your preferred climb. (Important note: many of the popular routes need advance reservation. As of this writing, Baby and Frogshead are booked solid for three weeks. A system of congestion pricing is being considered to address the problem.) At the base of each approved route, you swipe your GunksCard at the turnstile and proceed as though you were outdoors. Bolting and chipping are strictly forbidden. Because of the nation-wide ban on white chalk, the holds are sometimes difficult to detect.

Discounts are available for climbers under 5 and over 80. Really awkward climbers are entitled to a special rate until they get better. Stadium seating for spectators is available for a modest fee. No coaching is permitted.

If you have the latest model CPS [for more about the CPS, see Alpinist magazine 37 p. 24], your climbing score will displayed after you top out. An example:

Route: Moshe’s Mishigas; grade: 5.9 when dry; else 5.10b

Leader: B. Sidwell;

Belayer: E. Whymper;

Sidwell summary, by height in meters:

12.0 Use of expletive (mild). -0.5 points;

24.7: Unjustified use of knee -2.8;

27.3 Missed foothold -1.0;

38.0: Bad attitude beneath overhang: -4.0.

TOTAL: 92.3

Points this season: 5398.5

Banks of high-intensity low-energy floodlights are due for installation within 18 months, They will enable 24-hour-a-day climbing and reduce congestion.

NOTE: The proposal to make the roof retractable has been abandoned, both because of cost and the belief that a true indoor environment must be maintained.

A few unscrupulous climbers have jumped the turnstiles and even managed to get up the first pitch before being ordered off by members of GunksForce. They must each perform 30 hours of cliff-community service--hold-cleaning, tree-watering, bird-removal etc.--before being allowed to return.

Although all the holds are natural, a number of routes will soon be equipped with plastic supplied by a climbing gym in Brooklyn. This will ensure that indoor climbers feel entirely at home.


Bosley Sidwell was for many years headmaster of the Crag, a preparatory academy in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Now retired, he and his wife manage a chain of Tastee Freeze climbing gyms.

Version published in Alpinist, #40. Cartoon by permision of Tami Knight:

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