Just west of New Paltz  rise the Shawangunk Mountains, a tilted ridge of translucent quartz conglomerate cemented into sedimentary rock. One-tenth the age of the earth, the Shawangunks are often mistakenly assumed to be an extension of the Catskills , but are a distinct, separate range.
The Shawangunks’ steep escarpments make them a favorite haunt of rock climbers. The oldest rock-climbing guide service and school in the Shawangunks is High Angle Adventures (178 Hardenburgh Rd., Ulster Park, 845/658-9811, www.highangle.com ). Beginners are welcome; group size is limited to three.