The legendary Fritz Wiessner established more than a dozen rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks, according to the authors of Adirondack Rock. I’ve written about a few of the better ones, including Empress on Chapel Pond Slab, Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff, and Old Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.
One reason I’m drawn to Wiessner routes is their historical interest. Arguably, Wiessner was the strongest rock climber in the United States during the 1930s. Indeed, the authors of Yankee Rock and Ice suggest that the German immigrant “was so far ahead of what others were willing to try that he did not significantly improve the general standard.” In other words, few of his contemporaries could repeat his harder routes.
That said, Wiessner’s routes are considered easy or moderately difficult today. Advances in equipment and techniques have enabled climbers to get up routes that would have been impossible in his era. He climbed with a hemp rope tied around his waist, wearing mountain boots or rope-soled shoes, pounding in an occasional piton to protect against a fall. Modern climbers have stretchy nylon rope (not liable to break), sticky-rubber slippers, fancy chocks and cams, and comfortable harnesses.
Photo: Matt Shove by Phil Brown.