A Rock Climber's Guide to the Peter's Kill Climbing Area
"A Rock Climbers Guide to the Peter’s Kill Climbing Area, Minnewaska State Park Preserve" a guide book by Marty Molitoris and Mike Rawdon of Alpine Endeavors, is on a book rack near you the last week in October.
The 116 page book gives approach instructions, grades, and any special climbing info, like “bring an extra green alien”, for 233 climbs in the Peter’s Kill (PK) area and, the newly opened, Dickie Barre.
Molitoris and Rawdon include info about climbing at PK which is different than at the Mohonk Preserve. Rates are $10 per person. There is a limit to the number of climbers- 100 trad climbers per day and 30 boulderers.
The history of climbing in the new Peter’s Kill section of Minnewasaka State Park Preserve is inconsistent. People climbed there for decades before it became a state park in 1993, Molitoris remarked, but for years the park didn’t allow climbing. Because of the broken up history of climbing in PK stories and first ascents are difficult to trace and Molitoris and Rawdon didn’t include them in the guidebook.
Between himself and Rawdon, Molitoris figures they’ve climbed almost all of the routes in the book. They didn’t try to regrade the routes. They went with the existing grade, or a consensus culled from Gunks.com, Mountain Project and the old guide book by Bobby Wilson.
“I made a companion website rockclimbingpeterskill.com" Molitoris said. "That way people can post their opinions about grades and beta and write in if they have history and add to it".
Pages 18 and 19 address the question of bolted anchors and rappelling off trees in a way that is the least harmful to the trees, as well as the ecologically sensitive nature of the area. There is a list of routes with bolted anchors on the West Cliff, Far East Cliff, East Cliff, and at Dickie Barre.
Descriptions of gear ratings are given on pages 20 and 21. Top ropeable routes are indicated with - TR.
“Much of the best climbing here is on top rope lines,” as the book reads.
The park opened the Peter’s Kill area to rock climbing in 1996. The section in this area are the West Cliff, Middle Cliff, East Cliff, Far East Cliff. In 2013 Dickie Barre was added to the legal climbing areas in the park. It’s a new cliff as climbing goes, the guide book explains, and there is likely to be some loose rock and vegetation. The park was pro-active and installed bolted anchors around the time of the opening of Dickie Barre.
In the foreword, by long-time Gunks climber Russ Clune, Clune explained some of the unique qualities of this lesser climbed area of the Gunks.
“You will likely find what you’re looking for here in either a challenging lead or easy to set up top-ropes…It’s a pretty good menu of possibilities…mid-range up to 5.13.”
There is shade on the hottest summer day from the heavily forested cliff base and a relative abundance of crack climbs.
The cliffs are shorter here than in other sections of the Gunks- ranging from 60 to 100 feet. PK is known for being a friendly cliff for larger climbing parties or new climbers and leaders.
Molitoris has had the idea of writing a guide for PK for a long time. In 2011 he hired a plane and took aerial photos of the approaches and the walls. There are some color pages and some black and white. "A Rock Climber’s Guide to Peter’s Kill Climbing Area" is printed locally and Molitoris did the photo layout himself.
Minnewaska Park was very supportive of his enterprise, according Molitoris.
“The park was very helpful and excited to have a resource for visitors,” Molitoris said. “The book is a way to educate people so we’re better stewards for the land and just to get information out”.
There is a synchronicity with Molitoris and this guide book.
“I’ve always wanted to climb at Dickie Barre. I remember walking out there thinking I’d love to climb here,” he said. “The interesting thing is when I started my guide service Peter’s Kill was the first place that allowed me access, so it has a special place for me”.
Minnewaska State Park is considering opening other areas of the park for climbing.
“The park management has had a longstanding offer to open a dialogue on an incremental expansion of climbing access to the Gunks Climbers Coalition. The Beacon Hill Area and the High Peter’s Kill Cliffs have been identified as potential areas for expanded climbing by the park,” Dan Keefe, Deputy Public Information Officer, said about further climbing expansion in the park.
"A Rock Climber’s Guide to the Peter’s Kill Climbing Area" will be for sale at Rock and Snow and online. At some point, it may be for sale at Minnewaska Park Offices, and possibly at EMS.