Posts Tagged ‘Climbing’

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rock Climbing: Old Route Up Rooster Comb

Rooster-combEach year hundreds of people hike to the summit of Rooster Comb for its great views. Far fewer reach the summit by scaling its cliffs, but the mountain has a long and storied rock-climbing history. Whether you hike or climb to the top, the 2,788-foot peak offers a wonderful vista of the lower Great Range, the Brothers, and Johns Brook valley.

Rooster Comb is one the trips chosen for the Adirondack Explorer’s new guidebook, 12 Short Hikes Near Keene Valley. Since I planned to hike Rooster Comb for the book, I figured I’d squeeze in a rock climb as well. My neighbor, Tim Peartree, agreed to come along. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rock Climbing: A New Route Deep In Panther Gorge

Panther Gorge-The Huge ScoopI’ve taken thousands of photographs in the High Peaks, different areas I want to bushwhack, climb or pitch a tent. I’ve been focusing on Panther Gorge over the last several years and my collection of photographs has grown accordingly. I was studying the photos and dreaming of warmer days last winter when a close-up of a rectangular scoop at the southern end of the Marcy cliffs caught my eye. The lines in its face begged to be climbed. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Panther Gorge: Climbing New Routes on Haystack

Panther Gorge Climbing-Allison RooneyMy anticipation reached a crux; the snow was gone and the rock was exposed. It was time to venture again into Panther Gorge. Two local climbers, Adam Crofoot and Allison Rooney, were my willing partners, eager to explore new routes in the gorge after a winter of backcountry skiing. The only disagreeable partner was the weather, which left us only a small window of time on Saturday, May 30th.

Adam and Allison trekked to Slant Rock Lean-to from the Garden in Keene Valley on Friday afternoon and I joined them near midnight. The lean-to was full, so I found a comfortable place in my bivouac sack in the woods nearby to watch the moonlit clouds blow by. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 30, 2015

DEC Closes Rock-Climbing Cliffs For Falcons

Nesting falcons. Photo from DEC website.You know winter is coming to an end when the state Department of Environmental Conservation closes rock-climbing cliffs where peregrine falcons are known to breed.

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.


Friday, December 19, 2014

New ‘Adirondack Explorer’ Features Ice Climbing

CoverALast 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.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Slide Climbs: The Icy East Face Of Giant

Sunset on the summit of Giant Mountain.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.


Friday, December 5, 2014

A New Online Alpinism Fitness And Training Forum

High Peaks ForumADKHighPeaks.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.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Climbers Seek State Land Master Plan Recognition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 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.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Commentary: It Ain’t The ‘Dacks, Dude!

Paper birch forest on Jay Mountain's northern slopeAbbreviations 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.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Panther Gorge Rock Climbing Route:
Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald

Kevin MudRat MacKenzie climbs partway up pitch one of Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald.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.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: New Edition Of ‘Adirondack Rock’ Superb

slipcase with booksThe second edition of Adirondack Rock is out. If that doesn’t seem like a big deal, you must not be a climber.

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.”

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

81 Years Ago: An Amazing Rescue on Wallface

Wallface3boysEighty-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.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Roaring Brook Falls: Climbing A Classic

Great_rangeIn 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.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

First Ascent Of Tilman’s Arete Was A First For Women

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARock climbing has always been a male-dominated sport, and it was especially so in its early days. But not exclusively so.

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.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Moss Cliff In Wilmington Notch Reopened To Climbers

falconJust 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.