Bonnie's Roof

Page Type
New York, United States, North America
Route Type:
Trad Climbing
Spring, Summer, Fall
Time Required:
Less than two hours
Rock Difficulty:
5.9 (YDS)
Number of Pitches:

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Bonnie's Roof
Created On: Apr 23, 2013
Last Edited On: May 27, 2014


Unnamed Image

In Space on Bonnie's Direct
First-person P.o.V as I pull through the great finger locks over outrageous exposure on Bonnie's Roof Direct.

Bonnie's Roof is a must-do Gunks classic. The route was originally put up in 1952 by the legendary fitness guru, rock climber, and (first female) ski patroller Bonnie Prudden after her partner, 'secret' White House doctor Hans Kraus, backed off the route and handed over the sharp end. What makes this climb's history even more impressive is that Bonnie fired the route after a major skiing accident that shattered her pelvis back in 1937. Her doctor said that she couldn't ski, dance, or climb again; her walk would be a limp; and she could never have children. The doctor must have eaten his words after he saw what Bonnie was doing 15 years later!

The route itself is in a very popular section of the Gunks, as there is a cluster of great climbs nearby, including Directissima, Doubleissima, Ant's Line, Ent's Line, and Ursula. Keep in mind that on a warm weekend, this is not the section of the Gunks to find solitude or a lack of lines; for that, you would be better off going further down the cliff to the "Sleepy Hollow" section of the Trapps. However, since this line does not have a bolted anchor station, it will not be "top rope slammed" by big parties that tend to usurp nearby lines.

Get on this route already!

Getting There

From the West Trapps (upper) parking lot: Follow the carriage road for ~17 minutes until you see the distinct, triangular High E Buttress. Take the access trail immediately following the one that leads to the base of High E. There should be a huge detached block at the top of the trail that sits at the base of Ant's Line. Bonnies Roof is the unmistakable, imposing roof/corner immediately to the right of the block/Ant's Line.

From the Wawarsing (lower) parking lot: Ascend the stair master until you reach the carriage road at the East Trapps Trail Connector. Turn right and follow the carriage road to the same point described above.

Route Description

The Consequences of a Water Seep
The follower on the team ahead of us pulls of beneath the crux of Bonnie's Roof after discovering how wet the corner was. Made us feel better about attempting the route (but we still did).

Start: Set up beneath the big corner/roof system ~25 ft. right of Ant's Line

P1: Scramble up 5.easy terrain to a ledge where the corner steepens. Climb up the corner through increasingly hard moves (this section may be wet following a rain storm)--plenty of hand jams in the corner--until you are under the biggest bulge of the route. Protect beneath the roof and move left and over it (crux). Follow slightly easier (pro everywhere!) but exposed and airy terrain to finish on a small ledge beneath the final roof that features a nest of tat. (stimulating 5.9, ~130')

P2: The original variation moves left from the belay station and out across the airy face above P1. Move all the way out to the arete and follow jugs to the top. (5.7, ~50 ft.)

P2, variation: Bonnie's Roof Direct: Move right from the P1 belay station up towards the largest roof. A great stance will put you below an obvious finger crack the breaches the roof. Place some gear above your head, take a breath, and pull! Reach around the roof on good finger locks (short) and enjoy the nearly 160 ft. of air underneath you. After pulling the roof, move up and left on bomber horizontal cracks that lead you to a small flake. Follow the flake to the top. Belay off the rap tree for Bonnie's roof. (5.10a, ~55 ft.)

Descent: From the top, you can either move right and rappel off a slung tree above Bonnie's Roof/Ursula (The Bonnie's Roof rappel requires two 60-meter ropes! While one rope would theoretically be enough to reach the belay station on the first pitch, the roof is so large that landing on the ledge is unlikely. 2-rope rappel is highly recommended, otherwise head off towards the rappel station above Sleepwalk) or you can scramble away from the ridgeline and turn left when you meet flat ground to find the High E rap line (3 rappels 1 60m rope, 1 rappel with 2 60m ropes).

Airy Arete on Bonnie's Roof
A shot of me heading out the airy arete on P2 of Bonnie's Roof. Fantastic route!

Essential Gear

  • 60m rope (doubles recommended)
  • Nuts (whichever variety you please)
  • Cams from mid C3 to 3" (4" can find a home on the route, though it is not absolutely necessary)
  • Tricams (The Gunks is the king of tricam placements)
  • Lockers, nonlockers, prussiks, etc. (whatever you enjoy hauling up with you in The Gunks)