Short Seneca Trip Report.

Left PA for Seneca Rocks late Thursday afternoon, arrived 4.5 hours later, settled in at the Seneca Shadows Campground. This being our first time to Seneca, we were armed with lots of useful (and useless) beta; a new guidebook and an intimidating rock. Your first view of the gunsight and south summit from the campground is kind of an “oh sh*t” feeling, as the stark white and gray rock, split by immense fins of rock jutting into the sky, doesn’t compare to say a view of the trapps from the interstate. Gone were the big blocky walls and numerous horizontal, clean, cracks of the gunks. Before retiring we lounged with a beer, the campground surprisingly empty.

Friday morning we were up early and indulged in some french press coffee as the sun promised to be a scorcher. We were surprised to see Crackboy’s tent pitched nearby, him and his SO must have snuck in after dark. After discussing routes plans with CB, we headed up Roy Gap road to the trail. Note to newcomers - your first impression is the West Face Trail. Although some dedicated and much appreciated individuals constructed stone stairs, the hike in is quite aerobic in and of itself. Don’t give up yet.

Our Plan was to climb the short (30’) 5.6 Banana, to obtain the Gunsight and then do the route “Gunsight to South Peak” an exposed 5.3 (See previous photo supplied by Arms). Well…uh… ah… all went well till the last move on Banana and “pop” off goes Elvis. After being lowered down, and a quick pants change, my partner tries the route, gets to the same move, and can’t unravel the sequence. After three more tries each, we were pumped and disheartened. Two locals came up and stepped up. They quickly showed us the “move” (can you say “leg hook”) and finished the route. Disappointed, we walked back to the Luncheon ledge for a break and then did the Old Ladies Route. We ran into CB and partner trying to decipher the guidebook, chatted, and rapped down the West Face.

The day ended with dinner and beers at the Front Porch engaging in the local and seemingly most popular non-climbing activity – watching the intersection of Routes 33 and 55. (Seriously!)

After consulting with Crackboy, we got an early start on Saturday, intending to do the “Skyline Traverse”, and then “A Christian Delight”. A line had already formed on Skyline, so we went up the trail and did a three-pitch chimney to the Broadway ledge (Note, we still can’t find this route in the guidebook even though it had obvious belays at obvious ledges.) While belaying up my partner on the second pitch, I kept hearing leaves rustle behind me. Finally I turned my head slightly to see a 4-foot, “big as my wrist” black snake coming down the chimney. (Note: always tie in). I jumped to the left; the snake crawled across the pile of rope at my feet, stopped and looked at me for what seems liked an eternity and proceeded to go over the side of the cliff. (2 pairs of shorts in as many days) My partner yelled, “who’s that screaming like a girl up there”, I told him it was nothing, and held off informing him of the snake until he finished the pitch.

From Broadway ledge we did “A Christian Delight” (a great route), hung out on top and then rapped down the way we had come. As many of the routes share starts and pitches we met and talked with many climbers, all of whom were friendly and very helpful to two lost posers.

Left for PA later Saturday afternoon. If traveling Route 220, be sure to stop at Uncle Tucker’s Wood Fired Pizza and Brew Haus near the intersection with Route 68 in Maryland near Cumberland. www.edmasons.com/tuckers.html

Notes for Newcomers to Seneca:

- Seneca Shadows campground. A+ (clean, cheap, nice showers)
- Always wear a helmet. Many of the routes are above you, rocks are always coming down)
- Plan your day by the sun (west side in the morning, early afternoon - east side in the afternoon and evening)
- Don’t bring your nonclimbing spouse or SO on the trip. There is nothing else to do.
- Subtract at least one grade off your gunks leading level.
- Leave anything you don’t need in the car, have a small crag pack as you’ll be climbing with it. Can’t leave your pack on the ground (like the gunks) because the descent route is usually different. Bring up water with you. I noticed regulars leave the car with their harness on and gear already racked, with small daypack.
- Lots of loose rock and dirt on ledges. Rock is very solid (love that #1 camalot of mine). Rock seems rougher on skin, sandpaper feel). Plenty of good gear
- Guidebook is lacking. Finding the beginning of routes is difficult E.g. “Route starts 15’ right of the southend of the southeast face as you look west, near a good looking ledge”
- Bring several pairs of shorts. The 5.3 and 5.4 routes are straightforward but have a high “APF” (as* pucker factor) The exposure is awesome!
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"Marriage Survivor"