After an extended layoff, I'm working my way back up the grades again. Took a hooky day on Monday, and hit the Nears for some classic moderate action:
Led Gelsa, Layback, and Disneyland.
Layback has to be the hardest, most intimidating 5.5 (at least the start; both the chimney and face variations) at the Gunks.
Hawk, Ursula, Horseman, and Frog's Head are all cake in comparison, IMO.
The layback was way fun, the 2nd pitch gets a solid vote for Best 5.3 Climbing at the Gunks, but the unprotected starts are both NOT fun.
I backed off the chimney, didn't feel like making that last unprotected (I don't own a #4 camalot, or is there something else I may have missed?) move up to the chockstone for the first gear opportunity.
I guess one could say that in a chimney "you are your gear", but it was too cramped for me (5'10") to feel any sense of security in there.
The face variation isn't any better gear-wise, and also felt pretty stiff for 5.5. Got my first gear (green alien) in a vertical pin scar just below the horizontal, and then you get a (manky) pin and can slot a bomber nut before you traverse futher right to the chockstone and back on the route proper.
I dunno, I'll admit I'm rusty, but being 15+ feet off the deck before getting gear feels like more than PG to me.
I was very glad I wasn't a 5.5 or 5.6 leader when I tried this.