Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.
Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.
He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.
Some might wonder: What’s the big deal about Boreas Ponds? Yes, it boasts a fantastic view of the High Peaks, but you can paddle the waterway in less than an hour. And then what?
Unlike Lake Lila, Boreas Ponds has no sandy beaches where you can loll in the sun or go for a swim. Nor is there a nearby peak to climb for a lookout (though you could bushwhack to the top of Boreas Mountain).
Nevertheless, Boreas Ponds is a big deal. It’s one of our last chances to add a sizable water body to the Forest Preserve and declare it motor-free.
Jeff Lowe is one of the greatest American mountaineers of his generation. A native of Utah, he has climbed all over the world and put up hundreds of first ascents — on rock, ice, and alpine peaks. So when asked for his favorite climb in North America, he had many to choose from. Such as Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado, or the Keeler Needle in the High Sierra.
He chose Gorillas in the Mist, an ice climb on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain right here in the Adirondack Park.
Since Lowe did Gorillas in the Mist in 1996 with Ed Palen, the owner of Adirondack Rock and River in Keene, the route has attained near-mythic status. It has been repeated only once, just a few days after the first ascent. That was twenty-one years ago. “Everyone wants to do it. Anyone with the skill set, of course they want to do it. It’s famous,” said Matt Horner, a Keene resident who is one of the Adirondacks’ strongest ice climbers. » Continue Reading.
The February meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency’s board was a busy one. The staff spent two days discussing the Boreas Ponds Tract, diving deep into the ecology of the place. The board, however, took no action on the classification of the 20,758-acre parcel, which has stirred up so much debate on the Almanack. That decision could come this spring.
The board also discussed the controversial Lake Flower Resort in Saranac Lake. Many people have argued that the hotel would be too big and too close to Lake Flower, but the APA board voted to approve the project.
Both stories are covered in-depth in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer, which is now at the printer’s.
A state judge says he needs more information before deciding whether the state should be blocked from removing thirty-four miles of railroad track between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.
In a February 7 order, acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. requested more information on the ownership of the rail corridor and on the state’s plans to comply with historic-preservation law.
Until the judge issues a ruling, the state is barred from removing the tracks. The state hopes to begin the work this year.
Matt Horner, a talented ice climber featured in the current issue of the Adirondack Explorer, took a bad fall while climbing above Chapel Pond last week, suffering serious injuries.
Horner, who lives in Keene, was climbing a route called Rhiannon when he fell about fifty feet and hit the cliff, breaking most of the bones in his face and suffering a concussion and a brain hemorrhage, among other injuries.
The news spread quickly among climbers on Facebook. When Horner posted photos of his swollen and bruised face from a hospital in Vermont, he received comments from more than three hundred well-wishers.
“I am blown away by all the love and help! Thank thank thank you!” he wrote in another post a few days later. » Continue Reading.
A State Supreme Court justice has ruled that Protect the Adirondacks’ lawsuit against the state over the legality of “community-connector” snowmobile trails in the Forest Preserve should go to trial.
In a decision signed January 25, Justice Gerald Connolly denied motions to decide the case without a trial, saying there are factual disputes that must be sorted out through a trial.
Protect the Adirondacks contends that the community-connector trails – which are nine feet wide (or 12 feet on curves) and often graded – violate Article 14, the clause in the state constitution mandating that the Forest Preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands.”
Three media outlets will host a forum on the future of the Boreas Ponds Tract at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Schroon Lake Central School auditorium.
The Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine, Sun Community News, and Adirondack Daily Enterprise invited a number of stakeholders to take part in the forum, including environmental activists and local-government representatives.
The Adirondack Park Agency has yet to decide how to classify the 20,758-acre parcel under the Park’s State Land Management Plan. The state Department of Environmental will later write a management plan for the property, but the types of recreation allowed and the degree of motorized access will be partially predetermined by the classification. » Continue Reading.
After months of delay, lawyers for the state and the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society squared off in court Monday over the future of a 34-mile stretch of tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake.
At the end of the 45-minute hearing in Malone, acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. reserved decision on whether to block the state from tearing up the tracks and converting the corridor into a multi-use recreational trail.
The judge also asked the state to provide more information on the ownership of the railroad corridor.
Several years ago the Adirondack Park Agency mapped all the “Remote Areas” in the Park—those lying at least three miles from a road and at least two miles from any lake where motorboats are allowed. Less than 3 percent of the Park meets those criteria.
A caption states that the map “indicates the truly remote areas of the Adirondack Park are relatively small and therefore a precious resource.” They are the dark areas shown on the accompanying map.
Given the region’s network of roads, there aren’t many opportunities left to create new Remote Areas in the Park.
Boreas Ponds is one of them.
Recently, I dug up a copy of the map and traced a circle with the Boreas Ponds dam at its center and a radius of three miles based on the map’s scale. The results, though not surprising, are worth noting, given the controversy over the pending land-use classification of the 20,758-acre Boreas Ponds Tract:
The APA recently reported that it received more than 11,000 comments on the classification of the Boreas Ponds Tract.
Adirondack Wilderness Advocates has reviewed the comments (more than 16,000 pages worth) and found that more than 37 percent support classifying the entire tract as motor-free Wilderness.
Altogether, 84 percent of the comments support either AWA’s or BeWildNY’s plan, according to AWA, whereas only 15 percent support a Wild Forest classification that could allow motorized access all the way to Boreas Ponds.
BeWildNY, a coalition of eight environmental organizations, and Protect the Adirondacks all support opening Gulf Brook Road to within a mile of Boreas Ponds. Adirondack Wilderness Advocates and Adirondack Wild propose classifying nearly all of the Boreas Pond Tract as Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
Don Mellor’s second edition of Blue Lines: An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide, published this month,describes almost 600 ice-climbing routes — a testament to the popularity of an erstwhile fringe sport.
The growth in ice climbing is mirrored by the growth in the heft of previous guidebooks.
In 1976, Tom Rosecrans published a slim guidebook called Adirondack Rock and Ice Climbs. Though rock and ice received equal billing in the title, only nine of the 124 pages were devoted to ice climbing. Only a few ice routes were named and described.
In the 1980s, Mellor came out with a bulkier guidebook, Climbing in the Adirondacks, with a substantial section on ice climbing. The 1995 edition described more than 140 routes.
Mellor published the initial edition of Blue Lines in 2006, the region’s first guidebook devoted exclusively to ice climbing. It described about 350 routes.
The Adirondack Park Agency held public hearings on Boreas Ponds at eight different locations around the state in November and December. Hundreds of people spoke, offering a potpourri of opinions. But one constant was a sea of green T-shirts bearing the slogan “I Want Wilderness.”
BeWildNY, a coalition of eight environmental groups, created the T-shirts to push the idea that Boreas Ponds should be classified as motor-free Wilderness. » Continue Reading.
Maurice Isserman’s Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering is a scholarly work that covers the exploits of mountaineers in the United States and Canada from colonial days to 1963, the year that an American team reached the top of Everest.
Everest is a world away from the northeastern United States, the starting point of Isserman’s book. In 1642, Darby Field, a resident of what is now New Hampshire, climbed White Hill, known by local Indians as Agiocochook and by moderns as Mount Washington, the highest mountain in New England.
Others in the Massachusetts Bay Colony thought Field daft for climbing a mountain. It just wasn’t something people did. Isserman writes: “Following his death in 1649, it was remarked that his was a life of ‘merriness marred by insanity.’”
Some time ago I came across a book titled Fifty Favorite Climbs: The Ultimate North American Tick List. The author, Mark Kroese, asked fifty celebrated climbers to reveal their favorite climbs on the continent.
Most leaned toward big or exotic routes. Conrad Anker, for example, picked an alpine rock climb on Baffin Island near the Arctic Circle. Alex Lowe chose the Grand Traverse, his eight-hour dash over seven summits in Wyoming’s Tetons.
But I was especially interested in the choice of Jeff Lowe, one of the greatest mountaineers of his generation. Lowe (no relation to Alex) has climbed all over the world and put up hundreds of first ascents. His favorite climb in North America? A four-pitch ice route on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain that overlooks the Northway. It’s called Gorillas in the Mist.
The Adirondack chapter of the Nature Conservancy has purchased 753 acres with a two-mile stretch of the Main Branch of the Moose River on the western edge of the Adirondack Park.
The conservancy bought the property for $880,000 and intends to sell it to a buyer who will protect it.
The two miles of river are part of a 13-mile stretch of whitewater that is rafted in the spring. “It’s nice to know that this section of the Moose River will be preserved in its wild state,” said Garry Staab, a rafting guide and owner of Adirondack River Outfitters.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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