Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rockfall Brings Changes to Wallface Climbing Route

Heilman aerialVeteran climber Don Mellor regards Free Ride on Wallface in the High Peaks as one of the better rock-climbing routes in the East, but when he scaled it last weekend it was not the same.

Mellor discovered that thousands of pounds of rock had fallen from the belay station at the end of the sixth pitch, known as the Lunch Ledge.

“What’s left is an arch propped up by blocks,” he said.

Not trusting the stability of the arch, he climbed ten feet past it (and to the left) to set up a belay in another spot.

“It doesn’t affect the climb at all,” he said. “It’s a reminder that things are moving.”

This isn’t the first time that Wallface, one of the biggest cliffs in the Northeast, has shed a substantial amount of rock. Its base is littered with huge blocks of talus.

“There’s rockfall all the time. It’s creepy,” Mellor said. “The geology is wrong. It tilts out.”

Free Ride is a 735-foot route climbed in nine pitches, or stages. It’s rated 5.11a in the Yosemite Decimal System, meaning only elite climbers can scale it.

The guidebook Adirondack Rock says it was first ascended in 1999 by Tim Beaman and Dennis Luther. “The route took two years to create, then another year to climb it, with all bolts drilled by hand,” the book says.

And Mother Nature changed it in an instant.

The post Rockfall on Wallface climbing route appeared first on Adirondack Explorer.

Photo: Wallface is one of the largest cliffs in the Northeast. Photo by Carl Heilman II.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of 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.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

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