Introduction to Rock Climbing at the Gunks

1 day
All ages
1–4 people

Curious about rock climbing? Try it at the Gunks!

The Shawangunk Mountains is a renowned climbing destination for beginners and pros alike. You'll receive expert guided instruction, pick up a bunch of rock climbing terminology AND you get to climb the Gunks!

Check out the beauty of climbing outside. There’s nothing like it.

If you’re new to climbing, or have some experience in the gym, this Gunks rock climbing class is for you. If you’re already an experienced climber, try Custom Climbing in the Gunks.


No experience necessary. At all.

What you’ll learn

After going over the fundamentals of rock climbing, you’ll have plenty of time to practice what you learn on the crags. Here’s some of the techniques you’ll become familiar with:

  • The basics of safety in climbing
  • How to use ropes, knots and harnesses
  • The development of efficient climbing techniques and body positions
  • The fundamentals of anchors, belaying and rappelling

Climbing in a safe environment is an unforgettable experience for body and mind. There’s life before climbing and life after. You’re gonna love it.

Here’s a typical schedule for a day of climbing
  • 9:00am: Meet your guide in New Paltz at Rock and Snow, check your gear
  • 9:30am: Gear up and carpool to the cliffs
  • 10:00am: Spend the day learning and rock climbing
  • 12:30pm – 1:00pm: Lunch (bring snacks and plenty of water)
  • 1:00pm – 5:00pm: Keep climbing!
  • 5:00pm: Return to New Paltz
Where we are
What is included
  • All permits and climbing related fees in the Mohonk Preserve
  • Pick up and return to bus station or train
  • All technical climbing gear like ropes, name it.
What to bring
  • 2 liters of water, snacks and lunch
  • Hiking shoes or sneakers
  • Daypack large enough to carry water, food and extra layers
What to wear
  • Sunscreen
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and bring your usual athletic clothes
Why book through 57hours?

We’re an adventure loving, rock climbing, tech company that loves all things outdoors-y. Why spend days looking for the right guide and adrenaline rush, when we can (and already did) do it for you? Want a serious guide for a challenging climb? We know a bunch. How about a guide to show you around the Alps? Check. Maybe your kids want to climb and won’t stop going on about it until you book them a trip. Yes, we know guides who are great for beginners, too. Oh, yeah, every guide we know prioritizes SAFETY and FUN. Book with 57hours, we’ve done your work for you, you’re welcome.

Guides running this program

Marty Molitoris

Marty began climbing in 1988, and guiding in 1991. His first visit to the Gunks was during Columbus Day weekend in 1990. After a good number of return visits, he began guiding at the Gunks in the fall of 1995, commuting (from his hometown in PA) for work until relocating permanently in 1997. From then on, he has guided full-time and considers himself lucky to be able to make a career out of doing what he loves. He has shared his passion for climbing with many guests at destinations all over the country - some guests have climbed with him regularly for over 20 years. Over that time they have swapped leads, shared experiences, nurtured friendships, and set future climbing goals. While he enjoys all types of climbing, he prefers the solitude, self-reliance, and commitment gained from climbing traditional multi-pitch routes.

Joe Vitti

Course instructor Joe Vitti is one of the region’s most experienced and skilled guides, he is an AMGA Certified Rock Guide and has been climbing in the Gunks for over 25 years.

Joe started climbing as a teenager in Central Connecticut. The combination of creative movement, technical skills, natural environment and wild adventure with great friends created a lifelong obsession. The sport has taken him to amazing places all over the US and the world, from Yosemite Valley to Papua New Guinea. Working as an instructor and guide has allowed Joe to share his passion for our sport with thousands of people over the years. He's developed expertise in both rock and ice climbing, combining diverse experience with professional training and certification from the American Mountain Guides Association to create the highest level experience for his guests. Whether introducing people to the sport or to remote, multi-pitch classics, Joe always seek to customize the experience to best fit the goals and abilities of his guests.

Joe Vitti

Paul Curran

Paul Curran has been living, climbing and guiding in the Shawangunks for the past 25 years. He is the owner and operator of Vertical Gains guiding service.

He has guided and climbed all over the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Thailand. He has worked both on Broadway and off-Broadway. Paul loves to educate, encourage and enlighten everyone in the rewards and joys that rock climbing has to offer.

Silas Rossi

Based in New Paltz, NY, home of the Gunks, Silas appreciates the diversity and easy access of the climbing and skiing found in the Northeast. The many cliffs and crags serve as a year round office and playground, as well as an excellent training ground for regular expeditions to bigger ranges around the world. Mountain guiding has become a way of life for Silas. It allows him to share both his passion for the hills and his love of teaching.

Summers will find him guiding alpine peaks in the Alps and rock climbing in the Italian Dolomites.  His winters are spent in the Catskills, Adirondacks and White Mountains where he guides ice climbing and ski mountaineering, he also teaches avalanche education courses. Fall and spring are a blend of destination trips ranging from Alaska to Papua. Katahdin and Acadia National Park keep Silas returning home to Maine each year.

TJ Ciotti

TJ loves fine wine, puppies, and rock and ice climbing. In high school he became hooked after reaching the top of Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. He is particularly fond of traditional climbing at his home crag, the Gunks, in New York.

He has a degree in Education and is currently completing a masters in Expeditionary Studies. TJ enjoys sharing his passion and he is committed to helping all levels of climber learn new skills on and off the mountain.

TJ's an AMGA Certified Rock Guide, AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, AMGA Ice Instructor Course Graduate, New York State Licensed Guide, Wilderness First Responder and an AIARE (avalanche training) Level 1 Graduate.

Dustin Portzline

Dustin has been climbing since 2005. In 2010 he moved to New Paltz, New York, giving him plenty of time to climb and explore all the Gunks have to offer. He has fallen in love with the many intimate corners of the Shawangunk Ridge.

In 2009 he earned a degree in Environmental Studies from Pennsylvania State University. As a certified AMGA Rock Instructor, he has been guiding for the New Paltz based Mountain Skills Climbing Guides since 2010. He is licensed in New York State for Rock and Ice Climbing, as well as Hiking and Boating. He has been a member of the Access Fund and American Alpine Club since 2007, and he is a Leave No Trace trainer.