MY FAVORITE 5.10
ERECT DIRECTION [5.10C]
THE TRAPPS, SHAWANAGUNKS, NEW YORK
By Alison Osius
Pick a favorite 5.10? I’d choose the whole grade. I love climbing 5.10. It’s athletic and airy, but you can crank along knowing there should be holds. The grade can be hard, of course, especially 5.10 old-school trad. My favorite 5.10 is Erect Direction in the Trapps, the Shawangunks, New York.
When I started climbing in the Gunks, long ago, someone said, “Don’t feel bad if you fall off any of the 5.10s here, because Gunks 5.10s are really hard.”
They were hard, but so was the rock— quartz conglomerate, absolutely bullet, and world-celebrated for the jutting roofs created by its horizontal striations.
Protruding six or maybe even eight feet, the stacked roofs of Erect Direction look near triangular, two sailboats on the same tack. Bill Goldner and Dennis Mehmet forged the FA in 1966, and John Stannard and John Bragg the FFA, in 1973.
The roofs loom darkly overhead, big and strenuous.
In the past, when anyone asked the cheerful local Jack Mileski (R.I.P.), a 1980s Gunks fixture and raconteur, for beta, he—who always loved to mess with names—would answer, “Oh, you mean Direct Ejection!” Then he’d instantly produce plentiful beta—the term he himself coined, now part of national and international vernacular.
Another bit of lore, from the 1970s, is that when one area climber tried freesoloing Erect Direction, he got gripped in the dihedral under the huge roof. It was a rather dreary midweek day, and he had to wait quite a while before a rescue.
As to my own experience, with a nice big fatty of a rope, I remember a tricky move off the last belay, traversing and half-dreading the roof. Then committing and—a surprise: A flying heel hook led to a great, square hold and then another, just as good if not better. Hero moves, way out there.
One person commenting on the Internet calls Erect Direction “the hardest 5.10 I have ever done.”
Another denotes it “the wildest I’ve ever done,” adding, “Has to be one of the best roofs in the world!”
The New York climber Dan McMillan calls Erect Direction, “one of the most spectacular routes I know at that levelof difficulty.”
Climbs are different for everyone. For me, the climbing felt easier than it looked, because the roof holds were so good. I also didn’t know that the moves below, on a traverse, are probably the technical crux. What I do know is that the roof is everything the Gunks are famous for.
The whole buttress is prime real estate. Cascading Crystal Kaleidoscope is a renowned exposed 5.7 up a hanging slab right next door, while words written by Seth Gross, another local, about the CCK Direct Finish (5.9) say it all: “I think CCK Direct may be the best pitch I have ever climbed. The good stuff just keeps coming and coming.”
Alison Osius is the Executive Editor at Rock and Ice.
[THE TRAPPS BETA]
The Gunks are hot in summer but climbable on an overcast day. Spring and fall are best.
This route is in the Trapps, about a 15-minute hike from the central Uberfall area along the three-mile Carriage Road that lines the base of the cliffs.
The Climber’s Guide to the Shawangunks: The Trapps and The Climber’s Guide to the Shawangunks: The Near Trapps and Millbrook, by Dick Williams.
Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground, near the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center. This new campground should open in spring.
Stoppers, brass nuts, set of cams up to #3, long slings.
Rock & Snow, 44 Main Street, New Paltz.
This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 215 (January 2014).