Posts Tagged ‘Climbing’

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A November Climb Up Gothics North Face

Saddleback MountainGothics North Face is like an old friend — engaging, fun, familiar, and even a bit moody. I look forward to visiting it annually, usually during mid-winter. Early-season climbing conditions involving thin ice and expanses of bare anorthosite generally set up in December or January, so a trip during November is a novelty.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend than by involving another old friend in my visit, Adirondack Forest Ranger Scott van Laer. Together we’ve explored several of the Adirondacks’ most dramatic backcountry slides: Marcy’s East Face, Saddleback’s Chicken Coop Slide, and Big Slide Mountain. While he’s certainly in it for the adventure, he also views each trip through the lens of a rescue professional. The more he knows about the approach and exit, features of the slide, types of available climbing protection, etc., the easier he can assess it if a rescue is needed. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Adirondack Rock Climbing Rendezvous Sept 28-30

High Peaks Cyclery of Lake Placid is sponsoring the second annual Adirondack Rock Climbing Rendezvous the weekend of September 28-30. The agenda includes climbing clinics, tours of local cliffs, slide shows, and music.

Colin Loher, a climbing guide and one of the organizers, said the goals of the three-day rendezvous are to promote safe climbing and to celebrate the region’s  natural resources – “the  vast constellation of cliffs, walls, and precipices that bejewel the Adirondack Park.”

Not to mention have some fun. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Fritz Wiessner’s Historic Climbs Are Still Challenging

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. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Adirondack Ice Climbing: Laying Siege to the Tower

phil brown crystal ice towerIf you’ve done any rock climbing at Chapel Pond Gully Cliff, you’ve probably passed a steep granite wall on your way to the routes. It’s wet, dark, and manky, nothing you’d want to get on in summer.

In winter, however, the wall is transformed into the beautiful Crystal Ice Tower, one of the oldest and most popular ice-climbing routes in the region.

The tower is just one pitch, about eighty feet long, but it’s possible to keep climbing for three more pitches all the way to the top of Chapel Pond Gully Cliff. The route above Crystal Ice Tower — a mixture of snow and ice — is known as White Line Fever. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Recent Adirondack Rescue Operations

DEC Forest RangerNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Climbing: The Lure of Thin Ice at Poke-O-Moonshine

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.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Friends Rally For Keene Climber Injured In Fall

Matt HornerMatt 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.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Don Mellor Publishes New Ice-Climbing Guidebook

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.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Place Names of the High Peaks Wilderness

erik schlimmerErik Schlimmer is a man who likes to make lists, and check them off. After he climbed all the highest peaks in the Northeast he decided to climb all the less-than-high peaks of the Adirondacks, hundreds of them. Then he designed and hiked the Trans Adirondack Trail, a route that bisects the Park north-south from Blue Line to Blue Line.

With his beaver-like energy and red-squirrel enthusiasm Schlimmer has also written four books about the Adirondacks. The best of them, My Adirondacks, Ten Stories from Twenty Years, contains personal essays that are funny, thoughtful, and well-written. It recently won the Adirondack Center for Writing’s first prize for memoir. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

John Turner’s Classic Climbs At Poke-o-Moonshine

climber climbing gamesmanshipElection Day started out beautiful. Mild temperatures. Not a cloud in the sky. After voting, Will Roth and I drove from Saranac Lake to Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain to climb one of the cliff’s mega-classic routes, Gamesmanship.

There was just one other party at the cliff: two guys were roping up for Gamesmanship as we arrived at the base. Two parties, with more than 300 routes to choose from, and both opted for Gamesmanship. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Recent Adirondack Forest Ranger Search and Rescues

DEC Forest RangerNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Dr. Brad VanDiver’s Cliffside Brush with Death

longspeak2005wikiResearching Dr. Bradford VanDiver’s life and telling his full story isn’t possible in this brief format, but if you read last week’s account, you’re at least privy to the amazing and varied highlights. There remains one stunning and frightening event that he failed to mention during published interviews about various achievements and key moments in his past.

While plumbing for details that might have occurred prior to his professional career, I encountered reference to VanDiver’s participation with the National Speleological Society in exploring several new caves in the Howe’s Cavern area of Schoharie County in 1948. Some of the underground sites there involved drops of more than 100 feet, for which the spelunkers’ group called upon Brad VanDiver and his close friend, Ernest Ackerly, to handle the rigging of ropes, ladders, and other safety equipment. They also joined in the exploration of new passages. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wiessner Left His Mark On Cliffs All Over Northeast

The legendary Fritz Wiessner put up a dozen or so rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks in the 1930s and 1940s. That doesn’t make him the most prolific climber in the Adirondack Park, but he was one of the earliest.

In truth, Wiessner is better known for his exploits elsewhere. Perhaps his greatest contribution to rock climbing was his “discovery” in 1935 of the Gunks outside New Paltz, now one of the most popular climbing destinations in the country. In 1937, he famously led Bill House and Lawrence Coveney on the first technical ascent of the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming – an extraordinarily bold feat for its time.

Wiessner also did notable first ascents on cliffs in New Hampshire and Connecticut, among other places. In 1935, he put up a route called Vector at Connecticut’s Ragged Mountain that may have then been the hardest in the country. It’s now rated 5.8 in the Yosemite Decimal System. 

Last weekend, while visiting New Haven, I had the chance to check out another early route in Connecticut established by the master: Wiessner’s Rib in Sleeping Giant State Park.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016 Adirondack Peregrine Falcon Monitoring Summary

peregrine falconDEC staff and volunteers monitored 26 peregrine falcon nesting sites located throughout the Adirondack Mountains and along Lake Champlain during the 2016 breeding season.

Of the 26 monitored eyrie (nesting) sites, 17 were confirmed to be occupied by territorial pairs – all of these were confirmed to be active eyries. At two of the 26 sites, Cascade Lakes and Eagle Mountain, only a single territorial bird was ever seen. Of the 17 confirmed active eyries, 14 were successful, producing 27 chicks for a total of 1.59 young/breeding pair and 1.93 young/successful pair. This represents an average level of production for this region, however 2016 was much more successful than the 2015 breeding season. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Dr. Bradford VanDiver: Adirondack Renaissance Man

bvdiver1976Bradford B. VanDiver, president of the ADK Laurentian Chapter four decades ago, had a deep impact on my life, which is not surprising because he was a lifetime teacher. But the truth is, I never met him — at least not in person. His passion for many pursuits was first revealed to me through the pages of one of several books he authored. What I discovered was a native New Yorker and eventual North Country transplant who was truly a Renaissance Man.

At a young age, innate curiosity across many fields of science drove my quest to know more about animals, plants, rocks, and “bugs” that were routinely encountered on all sorts of outdoor expeditions. When VanDiver’s book, Rocks and Routes of the North Country, New York (1976) was released in 1976, I immediately obtained an autographed copy, which still resides on my desk to this very day. He presented a wealth of knowledge supported by scientific terms, but written for the layman as a practical guide to discovery. The book accompanied me on hundreds of hours of exploration across the Adirondacks, and in part led me to write my own first book.

But VanDiver was much more than a professional rock hound — professional as in a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Washington. He also taught at universities in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and for a year in Munich, Germany, during a sabbatical from Potsdam State, where he spent 24 years as professor of geology. » Continue Reading.