Long Island climbers often make the mistake of assuming that it’s impossible to find quality stone any closer than the Gunks. The truth is that there’s a far more convenient option just a short drive from the city. Located in Harriman State Park, right on the Jersey border, the Powerlinez are a collection of gneissic walls and scattered boulders that provide some 700 developed climbs—making this the largest climbing area within an hour of NYC.
Interestingly enough, it’s only been legal to climb at the Powerlinez for a decade. Before 2013, rock climbing in any form was prohibited in Harriman State Park, as has long been the case in many N.Y. state parks due to recreational management policy. Thanks to the ongoing work of the Torne Valley Climbers’ Coalition, the park is now open to climbing (albeit only within the Powerlinez area).
Today, the area’s 30- to 60-foot cliffs are ideal for top-roping (there’s also some trad climbing), and numerous scattered boulders make the Powerlinez an equally convenient bouldering destination. Combine that with the short commute, and you’ve got a perfect spot for weekend trips and summer after-work missions alike.
As with most woodland crags, finding your way around Powerlinez can be tricky. The interactive climbing map on the Torne Valley Climbers’ Coalition site is a great tool for navigating the area.
The aptly named Welcome Boulders are the best place to make your introduction to Powerlinez bouldering. Start with Flight From Doom, a classic V3 problem on a boulder of the same name. It makes a fun and challenging project for newer climbers and a solid warm-up for seasoned boulderers
To reach the Flight From Doom boulder, take the access trail from the Saltbox Parking Lot. Head south for about a quarter-mile. The first intersection you reach will be the junction with the original access trail. Continue straight through this intersection, and you’ll see the Welcome Boulders almost immediately on the hillside on your right. Flight From Doom is the somewhat egg-shaped rock about 10 feet high. The Flight From Doom problem starts on the bottom right-facing side of the boulder and goes up diagonally to the left on crimps to the top-out.
Recommended Top-Rope Route
Top-ropers will want to continue up the Saltbox access trail past the Welcome Boulders and to the walls beyond. There are plenty of options for top-roping, but at the upper boundary of the Powerlinez is the 60-foot Good Book Wall. Whalehunter (5.9) is one of the more classic lines on the left-hand side of the wall. It’s characterized by a protruding arete bisected by a small roof.
There are a couple options for top-rope anchor access for Whalehunter. One common way is to take the Top-Bottom Access route at the center of the Good Book Wall. This route (mostly Class-3 and Class-4 terrain) traces a gully that diagonals up and left to the top of the cliff.
Another option is to take a longer, scrambly hike around the escarpment. This hike starts at the climber’s right (looker’s left) of the Good Book Wall and adjacent Fairy Tales area.