Selected Leads

This is an abridged list of the things I've climbed. I included climbs either because I'm proud of having lead them, or because they were memorable or enjoyable.


These are climbs that I climbed on the first try without beta and without weighting the rope.

5.7 First Day

This was my first 5.7 onsight! However, like many Peterskill routes, this route is frequently top roped, and for rope management reasons the top rope route goes the straightest way, which leads up the right dihedral of a section that looks like a letter W. Leading, it felt more natural to go up the left dihedral. It felt a bit soft for 5.7 this way.

5.6 High Exposure

Ever since I heard of this ultra-classic route, I wanted to onsight it. However, as soon as I felt strong enough to do so, that section of cliff was closed for peregrine falcon nesting. So I wasn't able to lead it for most of 2018.

Finally, the peregrine falcon nesting closure was lifted, and I was able to lead this route, but I had already onsighted many climbs at the grade by this time, and even led a few harder climbs. It wasn't the challenge I had originally hoped it would be, but it was still an incredibly amazing climb, which absolutely deserves its reputation as a classic.

It was also rewarding to see how much I had grown as a climber this summer. When I first dreamed of onsighting High E, it was a challenging goal, but when I finally got to climb it, it felt easy.

5.6(PG13) Moonlight

At the time of this writing, (December 2018) this is my favorite lead to date in the Gunks. Not only was this an extraordinary climb, but it represented the culmination of my work on my lead head this summer. The crux, frankly, is terrifying, and while the physical difficulty of the route was well within my capability when I led it, keeping calm while executing the crux moves is probably my proudest climbing achievement to date.

The crux of this route is a delicate blind step left around an arete, after a significant traverse from your last piece of gear. There are no good holds to save you; you have to balance and trust your feet, while facing a large pendulum, all while in a wildly exposed position that you have to look down from in order to find your feet.

In addition to the objective and perceived hazards of the crux to the leader, I also had to protect the follower from a pendulum. To complicate matters, I encountered a nest of yellow jackets between the crux and the last piece before the crux. I carefully avoided disturbing the nest, and after pulling the crux, I climbed up, placing gear and back-cleaning it until I was high enough above the crux traverse to reach out right and place a piece directly above the crux. This meant that instead of a violent pendulum, my follower would take a gentle swing on a top rope if they fell at the crux. I'm glad I did this, because my follower was stung by a yellow jacket and fellbeforethe crux! Due to my careful planning he was unhurt except for the sting.

5.6 Cool Hand Luke

This was my first onsight at the grade in the Gunks. I've since found that it's a bit difficult for 5.6. I'm glad I didn't know that at the time.