I have climbed up that way perhaps 50 times or more! Climbing up from the base takes less time, and climbing back down is even shorter. You can slide down the hill in the winter, wow! It is also more traditional, starting from the bottom rather than the top to climb a mountain, and gives you something to contemplate and look at all the way to the base, you get to look at the whole cliff! There is a phenomenal difference if you start here; it's actually part of the climb. If you start around the middle, you will be hiking up through woods until your reach the top of a hill. That hill goes back down a ways, and then you go up another long wooded hill that goes back down a little, and then you go up another hill to reach the boulder-field. After this you should cross the boulder-field at its weakest point. Here there is often mist coming out from under the rocks, there is ice under there through the spring. Then you go up another hill covered in some orange boulders until you reach the cliff. The views are amazing and the hike can be more enjoyable than the climb itself. And this comes from someone who hates to hike. In the winter we would leave steps in the snow. Coming back made it like climbing stairs to the base of the cliff, way cool. It really makes you feel like a bit of a mountain climber and it takes less time. Rapping of the top is for sissies.
The Mohonk Mountain House and the Mohonk Preserve have done a great job protecting the environment thus far, but ... it's all down hill from here http://youtu.be/9AU8fMo8v4k.