Rock and Ice Climbing - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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Rock and Ice Climbing

Man rock climbing in autumn
rock and ice climbing

Looking for a challenge? Looking to get off the ground and experience the thrill of negotiating vertical rugged terrain? New York State offers something for every climber from the world class climbs on the Shawangunk Ridge, to the walls along the Mohawk River in Little Falls, and the remote backcountry climbs in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks.

Rock and ice climbing are physically and mentally demanding sports. They test a climber's strength, endurance, agility, and balance along with their mental control. Once at the top the reward is an unbeatable sense of accomplishment and an unbelievable view. Rock climbers looking to get outside in the winter and challenge themselves further often turn to the realm of ice climbing. And climbers from all over the east coast come to test themselves against the rock and ice in New York.

Information on rock and ice climbing safety and rules for climbing on state land

Places to Climb

Here is a sample of DEC properties with rock and ice climbing opportunities. To explore other DEC lands across the state, visit our places to go page.

Protect Yourself

All forms of climbing are inherently dangerous, irrespective of your experience or conditions, and climbers assume complete responsibility for their own safety.

  • DEC does not maintain routes; loose rock and other hazards can exist on any route.
  • Rescue is not a certainty. If you get into difficulties, be prepared to get yourself out of them.
  • Know what to do in any emergency, including injuries, evacuations, unplanned bivouacs, or rapid changes in weather.
  • Climb safely! Rescues endanger rescuers' lives, are expensive, and cause a lot of impact.
  • Safety depends on having the right gear and the right attitude. Practice self-rescue techniques before you need them!
  • Courtesy is an element of safety.
    • Falling rock or gear is a serious hazard.
    • Be careful when climbing above others.
    • Do not create a dangerous situation by passing another party without their consent.
  • Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or climbing skills.
  • Additional information on Outdoor Safety

Protect the Land

man rock climbing in autumn

Know the rules of the property and the principles of Leave No Trace (leaves DEC website). Stick to trails.

  • Do not install any additional anchors in the rock. The Department of Environmental Conservation does not maintain fixed anchors. Climbers should consider any fixed anchor suspect and should exercise their own judgment when using them.
  • Take care not to damage trees with ropes. Sliding ropes around trees will damage the bark and eventually kill the tree.
  • Keep groups inside the existing "brown spot" and on marked trails to minimize damage to soil and vegetation.
  • If you see climbers who are not following these principles, talk to them. Explain how they can minimize their impact and why it is important that they do so.
  • Clean up after others. Leave the rock better than you found it.
  • Respect closures. For example, some areas are closed during peregrine falcon nesting season.

Rock Climbing and Peregrine Falcons

Peregrine falcons are a threatened species in New York State. DEC may close certain Adirondack climbing routes during the nesting season to prevent any disturbances that might interfere with the successful raising of the young peregrine falcons. Closure notices are posted at cliff access site and on the DEC website.

Climbers that encounter agitated or aggressive falcons should leave the cliff face immediately and report the incident to DEC Wildlife staff at 518-897-1291. Learn more about Peregrine falcons and Adirondack rock climbing.