Peregrines are on the state’s endangered-species list, and so each spring DEC closes cliffs to protect their nesting sites. Cliffs will be reopened if no nesting occurs on them. Those cliffs used for nesting will be reopened in the summer after the chicks fledge. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Climbing’
Last winter, at age fifty-nine, I took up ice climbing. My first route was the popular Chouinard’s Gully above Chapel Pond. Don Mellor, the author of Blue Lines: An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide, led all three pitches.
Later in the season, I climbed four classic routes with Dan Plumley: Roaring Brook Falls, the Cascade (between Cascade Lakes), Multiplication Gully in Wilmington Notch, and Chapel Pond Slab. On each climb, Dan led and thus assumed the lion’s share of the risk. » Continue Reading.
Giant Mountain offers a diversity of ascent options, but I’ll admit to playing favorites. Ascending the Ridge (Zander Scott) Trail and climbing the expansive East Face sets the stage for a day with breathtaking views on approach and a challenging slide climb as the main event. The steep dominant ledges that traverse much of the face set this apart from many other slides.
I’ve scaled the great scar several times over the years so finding new ways to breach the crux becomes part of the fun as I plan each outing. For crying out loud, the beast is over ¼ mile wide and 1,200 high so the choices are as diverse as one’s imagination and comfort level.
Giant’s proximity to Route 73 also makes it a good option when seeking a late start as my partner, NP, and I had planned. My trips often begin at 5 am. Here I can begin hours later and still return before dark. We parked near Chapel Pond and ascended the Ridge Trail under a bright morning sun. Conditions were perfect with temperatures hovering around 10 degrees at elevation. There were stunning vistas from the southwest ridge. » Continue Reading.
ADKHighPeaks.com has gained popularity in recent years due to a well-organized format and plethora of hiking/scrambling information contributed by a broad base of members. For those unfamiliar with their layout, a variety of sub-forums (trip reports, general hiking information, ADK 100 Highest, Slide Climbing Reports, New England Hiking etc.) are organized by broader categories (hiking, Adirondack Slides, Special Interest, etc.).
The newest sub-forum, Fitness and Training, is an exciting new addition to the Foundation’s site located under General Hiking – those serious about training won’t want to miss this. Steve House and Scott Johnston, authors of Training for the New Alpinism, are the mentors for the sub-forum. They bring an incredible depth of knowledge to the table and offer forum members a rare chance to interactively tap into the collective knowledge of two experts in the climbing and training fields. » Continue Reading.
In 1971, the year before the State Land Master Plan was adopted, Trudy Healy published the second edition of A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks. It was a slim, staple-bound booklet that described about seventy rock-climbing routes.
Last year, Jeremy Haas and Jim Lawyer published the second edition of Adirondack Rock, a two-volume affair with descriptions of more than three thousand routes. In addition, other authors are working on guidebooks for bouldering and slide climbing in the Adirondack Park.
Haas points to these books as evidence of the growth in popularity of technical climbing and mountaineering since the early 1970s. He and other climbers are hoping the Adirondack Park Agency recognizes this growth when it considers amendments to the State Land Master Plan.
Abbreviations and acronyms continue to mushroom in popularity with each passing day. As an increasingly face-paced world collides with new and ubiquitous technologies, these short cuts will likely become more invasive in our language. Their burgeoning use coincides with the development of many modern means of communication, such as text messaging and social networking, which may eventually prove as the death knell to clear and concise communication.
What does this have to do with the Adirondacks?
Despite the prominence of these short cuts in popular culture, one annoying Adirondack abbreviation predates this social media trend. My first encounter with it goes back as far as the 1990’s, but it most likely was in use well before then. Although it does not appear to be in widespread use yet, I still hear it from time to time, and it never gets less annoying. Finding a more demeaning abbreviation would be a difficult task, especially when applying to such a beautiful place as the Adirondack Park.
» Continue Reading.
Panther Gorge’s scenic wonders were featured in Adirondac Magazine’s September/October issue—the secluded talus fields, beaver ponds, a waterfall, the moss covered forest floor and meandering brooks. Above the forest lies the technical climbing area. A multitude of cliffs adorn the sides, but one stands out from the rest – Mount Marcy’s Agharta Wall.
The name was inspired by the Miles Davis’ Agharta album after Christian Fracchia and Charlie Dickens made the first ascent of the Agharta ice route in 1999. The alternate meaning, a Buddhist reference to a mythical subterranean world “also fit with how the gorge feels,” noted Fracchia. Walk deep into the gorge, especially on a dreary day, and you’ll realize how true this is.
Rock climbing routes are continually being created or “put up” on cliffs inside the blue line. Adirondack Rock’s recently published second edition adds 1,162 new routes to those in the first edition. In comparison to many areas, Panther Gorge has seen little route development. The first recorded technical ascent in the gorge was in 1936 when local guide and climber Jim Goodwin ascended cliffs on the Marcy side of the north end; his exact line is not clear. Only eight more routes were put up between 1965 and 2010, five of which involved Bill Schneider during 2003 and 2004.
Since 2012, six more have been added. Two lie on Marcy’s East Face, three lie on the Haystack side (including a free-standing pillar) and another called Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald ascends the Agharta Wall. » Continue Reading.
Local climbers have been eagerly awaiting the second edition, and it’s now evident that their eagerness was justified: although the first edition, published in 2008, is an excellent guidebook, the new one is a major improvement.
Most important, it contains 1,240 new climbing routes and adds a number of cliffs not found in the first edition, including Sugarloaf Mountain (acquired by the state this year), Shelving Rock on the east side of Lake George (72 routes), and Silver Lake and Potter mountains (a combined 150 routes). In addition, the new guidebook documents more than 200 new routes at Crane Mountain, largely the work of Jay Harrison and his cohorts.
All told, Adirondack Rock describes about 3,100 routes (with more than 4,000 pitches) on 320 cliffs scattered around the Adirondack Park. As Tad Welch, one of the region’s most prolific climbers, notes in the foreword: “That’s over 65 miles of climbing, in case you’re wondering.”
Eighty-one years ago—on September 3, 1933—three Plattsburgh youths in their late teens, accompanied by a schoolteacher, climbed Wallface Mountain in the Adirondacks. Their purpose was not to ascend the infamous steep cliffs there, but instead to retrieve a length of rope valued at $40 (about $720 today) and deliver it to the Lake Placid Club. For such a mundane outing, the press coverage was extraordinary, extending to newspapers in many faraway locations. And therein lies a harrowing tale.
Five days earlier, those same boys had embarked on another trip to Wallface, reaching the base of the cliffs at Indian Pass early in the morning. The trio—Tyler Gray, 19, Robert Glenn, 17, and William LaDue, 16—were all Boy Scouts, so they were better prepared than the average youths taking to the woods. Accompanying them was William’s younger brother, 14-year-old Robert LaDue. » Continue Reading.
In some respects, Roaring Brook Falls isn’t such a great climb. The rock can be loose, mossy, or wet. And there are places where you can’t find cracks to insert protective gear—cams or chocks that are clipped to the rope to catch a fall. In short, it can be slippery and dangerous.
Nevertheless, R.L. Stolz regards it as an Adirondack classic. Since the 1980s, he has climbed the lower part of the route maybe a hundred times and done the whole 520-foot route about twenty times. “This is a very pretty climb,” says Stolz, co-owner of Alpine Adventures in Keene. “It’s unique in that you’re climbing next to a waterfall. The downside is that it’s a little grungy in places.”
Not just any waterfall. Roaring Brook Falls is a landmark, one of the most well-known (and photographed) cascades in the Adirondacks. It plunges about three hundred feet in full view of passing motorists on Route 73. The base of the falls is reached by a short hike from the Giant Mountain trailhead in St. Huberts.
Since taking up rock climbing several years ago, I have been intrigued by the prospect of ascending the falls. This is not a new idea. In 1938, Jim Goodwin mentioned the climb in an article for the Adirondack Mountain Club. Roaring Brook Falls also was included in A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, the region’s first rock-climbing guidebook, published in 1967. » Continue Reading.
The Olympian skier Betty Woolsey climbed in the Adirondacks and Gunks with such pioneers of rock as Jim Goodwin, John Case, and Fritz Wiessner. Circa 1950, she put up the first Adirondack route led by a woman—the Woolsey Route on Rooster Comb Mountain.
The guidebook Adirondack Rock says it’s not exactly clear where Woolsey’s route went, but it most likely followed a corner near a climb established by Wiessner known as Old Route. It is rated 5.8 on the Yosemite Decimal System scale, a tough climb for its time and considerably harder than Old Route.
Trudy Healy was another woman who took to climbing decades ago. She wrote the region’s first climbing guidebook, Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, which was published by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1967. According to Adirondack Rock, Healy participated in at least two first ascents in the Adirondacks: Four Plus (rated 5.5) on the Brothers near Keene Valley, in 1965, and a variation (another 5.5) of the Wiessner-Austin Route on Big Slide Mountain in 1970. In both instances, she was following the leader.
It would be a few more decades before an all-female party made a first ascent in the Adirondacks, a route now considered a classic climb.
Just in time for the holiday weekend, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is giving rock climbers access again to Moss Cliff, one of the region’s better crags. Moss Cliff had been closed to avoid disturbance of peregrine falcons during nesting season, but DEC has detected no nesting activity on the cliff this year.
Located in Wilmington Notch,the 400-foot cliff towers over Route 86 and the West Branch of the Ausable River. It’s a landmark to motorists, but climbers know it for its clean rock and tough routes. » Continue Reading.
Most people who know me are familiar with my fascination with Panther Gorge. Its isolated location draws me annually like a moth to a flame. The site is home to some of the most intriguing and rugged Adirondack terrain—technical cliffs, beaver ponds, tranquil streams, shadowy talus fields and a beautiful slide that sparked my initial curiosity.
If you have climbed Mt. Haystack then you may be familiar with Grand Central slide, at least from a distance. This predominantly southeastern aspect slide delineates the east face slab from the steeper cliffs farther north in the gorge. Its release point begins in a sea of dense evergreens near the crest of Marcy’s southeast ridge. It ends 700 vertical feet below at the top of a cliff split by a right-leaning crevasse with a waterfall. Like nearly all venues in the gorge, the view from its curving track surpasses words. » Continue Reading.
The northern cirque of Dix Mountain hosts one of the region’s best slide climbing destinations with numerous tracks of quality rock. Even if you’re not an adventurer, it’s difficult not to appreciate the artistry and power of nature while driving from Keene to Keene Valley on Route 73.
Collectively known as the Finger slides, the array is arranged from southwest to northeast spanning ½ mile beginning with the Thumb slide and ending with the Pinky (Per Drew Haas’ Slide Guide). Multiple slides sometimes make up one finger.
Though several slides existed prior to the cloudburst, they were recreated in their current incarnation during the second week of August in 1993; Adirondacks Alive by Olaf Sööt and Don Mellor shows an excellent photo of the fresh slides. Not surprisingly, climbers began exploring soon thereafter. A few years later the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reported that a scrambler was injured by a falling rock; a reminder of the inherent danger of slide climbing. While the approach is fairly long, it’s via a scenic trail that passes Round Pond and traverses along the North Fork Boquet River. » Continue Reading.
My friend (who goes by the nick-name NangaParbat) and I descended the well-known cliffs of Saddleback and shortly thereafter cut left into the woods. Within 10 minutes we found ourselves out in the open with huge views on the Saddleback South slide. This must be a very old landslide because the once-exposed rock is now mostly covered in moss. Small trees are beginning to grow in. Lower down on the slide the water flow increases and the rock slab is exposed but we found it to be very slippery and stuck well to the edges.
Over to our right was Basin’s East Face, our ultimate destination. In between the slide and Basin lies a most impressive feature that I know as “Big Pink”, which is a huge, bare slab of pinkish smooth rock. We walked along the 60 degree base of Big Pink and then we picked up the drainage that runs down from the East Face of Basin. » Continue Reading.