Although this winter has been disastrous for backcountry skiing, it hasn’t been all that bad for ice climbing. One of the most reliable places for ice is Chapel Pond Canyon, which doesn’t see a lot of sun.
The March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer features on its cover a photo of Sabrina Hague climbing Positive Reinforcement in the canyon (that’s me on the ground belaying her).
Positive Reinforcement was the canyon’s first ice-climbing route, put up in 1982 by, not surprisingly, Don Mellor, a longtime Adirondack climber and the author of Blue Lines: An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide.
The story inside, headlined “Frozen Feat,” describes the climb and profiles Sabrina, a New Jersey native who with her partner bought a cabin in Keene so she could pursue her passion for climbing rock and ice.
R.L. and Karen Stolz of Vertical Perspectives Photography (and owners of Alpine Adventures in Keene) took the photos. They came out so well that we chose them for our centerspread as well as the cover.
The Stolzes are veteran climbing guides, but they also are meticulous photographers. The day before our climb, they set up a rope on Positive Reinforcement. R.L. hung from the rope to get close-ups of Sabrina — including the cover shot — as she climbed. Meanwhile, Karen took photos from above.
Some may feel the piece de resistance is a photo of Sabrina that R.L. and Karen took with a camera mounted on a ten-foot aluminum pole. Karen manipulated the pole while R.L. controlled the camera via an iPhone. The photo looks as though it were taken from midair. It takes up nearly a full page of the centerspread.
In a related story, the Explorer interviewed an ice climber who survived a 130-foot fall on the north face of Pitchoff Mountain—though not without breaking a femur and his sternum and fracturing his skull. His tale is a lesson for all ice climbers.
Despite the lack of snow, we did our best to bring our readers a story about backcountry skiing. Carol Fox and I traveled to the Tug Hill Plateau to ski around the rim of Whetstone Gulf. This is one the most scenic ski tours in the North Country. And speaking of good photography, we found a spectacular winter shot of Whetstone Gulf taken by Carl Heilman II.
Those who are looking forward to spring should enjoy Bill Ingersoll’s story about hiking a new section of the Northville-Placid Trail. It cuts out miles of road walking near the southern end of the long-distance trail.
As always, this Explorer features several articles on environmental issues. Staff writer Mike Lynch wrote the fifth article in a six-part series on climate change in the Adirondacks. This one focuses on extreme weather. The forecast calls for more deluges. Mike also filed stories on an insect threatening balsam firs and on road-salt pollution in Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake.
The Adirondack Park Agency has been busy lately. The new issue contains a lengthy article on the APA’s approval of a plan to divide the Adirondack rail corridor into a trail segment and a rail segment. This has been one of the most contentious controversies in recent years, and the battle may not be over. In addition to the article we include a debate on whether pulling up some of the tracks will destroy a piece of history.
In another article, we examine the claims in an environmental lawsuit filed over the management plan for the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, which the APA approved last fall. Finally, Ken Aaron’s writes about the reactions to the agency’s proposed amendments to the State Land Master Plan.
For wildlife lovers, we offer pieces by Ed Kanze on walleyes, John Thaxton on the northern shrike (a k a “the butcher bird”), and Larry Master on cavity-nesting ducks.
Adirondack historian Philip Terrie reviews a book on the relationship between religion and environmentalism. Michael Virtanen reviews one on the history of rafting and other adventures in the Hudson Gorge. In her Book Explorer column, Betsy Kepes profiles Larry Gooley, the author and/or publisher of numerous books on local history.
Our Outdoor Skills page illustrates two simple emergency shelters in winter: the snow trench and tree well.
Publisher Tom Woodman interviews Bob Blais, the longtime mayor of Lake George, in Talk of the Towns, and visits Wanakena to talk to the folks restoring the historical footbridge over the Oswegatchie River.