Here are some questions we get quite often. If you have any questions about your day please don't hesitate to ask.
How long is the day?
We offer both half-day and full-day outings in the Gunks. The half-days run from 9am until 12:30pm, or 1:30pm to 5pm; and the full-days 9am until 4pm. We can sometimes adjust the times to work with your schedule - however, we prefer to start the half-days earlier to be sure there is space at the park. We do not offer half-days on Saturdays.
For ice climbing and other rock locations, we only offer full-days. In winter we prefer to meet earlier due to the limited amount of day light. Please be sure to check with your guide on where and at what time to meet. Normally, the days are about 7 to 8 hours long.
Where do we meet?
We usually meet at Rock and Snow in New Paltz for climbs in the Shawangunks and/or Catskills. If you have all your own gear, and are interested in getting out earlier, we can arrange to meet you somewhere else. Please check with your guide before hand. For directions, please visit our "driving directions" page.
What do I need to bring?
We supply all the technical equipment you will need to climb. You will need to bring a lunch, at least 2 quarts of water, clothing comfortable for the weather, a pack to carry all your gear plus that which we loan you, and odd's and ends; ie: sunscreen, bug spray, camera, etc. For a complete list for each type of climbing, please check out our Gear List page.
Can I bring my own gear?
Sure, if you have your own gear, please bring it. You will be more comfortable using gear you are familiar with. If you would like to try out ours, you are welcome to do that as well. However, if you gear is more than five years old (soft goods - harness, slings, etc) it should be retired.
What is the largest size group you can take climbing?
For most climbing, we keep the ratio at 4 climbers-to-1 guide, if you have more in your party, then we will provide another guide. We can accommodate groups of up to 30 people, but prefer to keep it a little smaller. If your group is much larger, it means not only more wear on the environment, but also more downtime for the participants.
How do your rates compare to your competitors?
Our rates are fairly comparable to our competitors. They may be equal to some, and possibly slightly more than others. Why? We employ our guides as employees and cover them with liability, workman's compensation, and disability insurance. This slight increase in our rates not only helps our guides by protecting them and their livelihood, it also assures you that you have an experienced professional working for you.
Is it customary to tip our guide?
This is definitely one of those uncomfortable questions to answer...
Our guides often do receive gratuities. They are never expected, but greatly appreciated. Most range from $20 - $100. As for the amount, that really varies with the guest and the service they received. It is something you will have to decide after you are out that day.
How long does it take to learn to lead?
There is no definitive answer to that. If anyone tells you otherwise, think twice about their response.
Leading is an art form, and it requires an incredible amount of climbing experience - stress management, decision making, route finding, rope management, gear placement, anchor systems, climbing technique, rescue skills, etc. to be brought together all at once.
You need to have a good head on your shoulders, and it helps to be mechanically inclined. It ranges from person to person; some people can pick it up over a season, some people need a few years, some people may never be able to. The final decision is up to you, and you need to use your judgment. We try not to give instruction to those without adequate experience. How much is required depends on the individual. You should have a good base of knowledge, be able to set up natural and artificial top ropes on your own, have followed a fair amount of lead climbs (preferably multi-pitch), and be comfortable when climbing.
What are some important things I can do in the winter to make my day of ice climbing more enjoyable?
Be sure to bring a thermos for the cold days in addition to your water. Try to avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor - it will shrink your blood vessels, thus reducing the supply of blood to you extremities and make you colder. Plus it is a diuretic, and the increased frequency of you having to pee will make you dehydrated, which also makes you colder. Hot jello is a great winter drink!
Be sure to bring water bottle insulators (Outdoor Research makes a bottle parka) to keep your water from freezing, and place your bottle in the parka upside down (be sure the lid is on correctly). This will make any freezing that does occur at the actual bottom of the bottle, then you can flip it over and still be able to unscrew the lid.
Bring multiple pairs of gloves, and a pair of mittens. The ONE thing that will definitely get wet - unless you have a high quality pair of gloves designed for ice climbing - is your glove. Cold hands are not fun. A good number of gloves is at least three (including your mittens).
Also, if you are looking to buy a pair, we highly recommend they have padded knuckles. You hands will appreciate it.
Bring a warm parka/jacket to put on over your climbing jacket. That way when you are belaying, eating, waiting, etc you can stay warm.
Stay far away from cotton!
Try to eliminate cotton from what you are wearing that day when out climbing, Definitely do not wear jeans.
I was at your site and was wondering how you dressed for really cold multi-pitch climbs. If you have too many layers, you sweat on the first lead. Then when your second comes up and then leads, you are sitting for a long time. If you don't have the layers on, you don't sweat as much but you are still sitting with little on for some time. How do you layer for this?
My usual routine for multi-pitch routes is that I keep a BD BeeBee pack in my big pack and wear it while leading. On the lead I wear my normal dress (synthetic tee shirt, long sleeve mid weight zipneck, polartec fleece top and soft shell). I place a pair of warmer gloves inside my jacket around my sides (the harness over the jacket keeps them from falling out and being in there keep them warm). In the pack I stuff my OR belay jacket (and sometimes a primaloft vest if it is really cold), first aid kit, headlamp, extra pick and wrench, and water or thermos. When I get to the belay, I put on the jacket and swap out the gloves - putting the thinner pair I wore inside my jacket. It keeps them warm even though they are probably wet and allows me to put them back on for the next pitch. If it is wicked cold, I probably bring a bigger parka and use a bigger pack.