Posts Tagged ‘Giant Mtn Wilderness’

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tim Rowland’s Fourth Of July Adventure

view of Giant from High BankI am a firm believer in the celebrated “Ten Essentials” that every hiker should carry in his pack when he sallies forth into the bush — which for me generally amounts to a map, a compass and eight Advil. Of course the list of essentials includes a lot of other stuff, as well, and is readily searchable online.

It’s good to be aware of the list because you never know about weather, you never know about a bad step on a rock, you never know when you are going to need a little extra gas in the tank and, well, you just never know. It’s amazing to me how just a few steps off a well-beaten path can leave you feeling just as lost as Fred Noonan over the South Pacific.

But we all backslide a bit. I frequently fail to carry Essential #10, Emergency Shelter on a two-mile out-and- back to Baker Mountain. But within reason I’m pretty good about it, partly out of prudence, partly because I don’t want to get “that look” from other hikers on the trail, the one that says “Look Carol, he is wearing COTTON. To the STAKE with him.” » 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.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

DEC: Postpone Hikes Above 2,500 Feet During Mud Season

Mud Season Muddy Trail Adirondacks (Adirondack Mountain CLub Photo)It’s mud season, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 2,500 feet until higher elevation trails have dried and hardened.

Spring conditions arrived early and are present at the lower elevations of the Adirondacks, but backcountry trails at higher elevations are still covered in slowly melting ice. These often steep trails become a mix of ice and mud making them slippery and vulnerable to erosion by hikers.

DEC asks hikers to help avoid damage to hiking trails and sensitive high elevation vegetation by avoiding trails above 2,500 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, including: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DEC: Avoid Muddy Trails In High Peaks

DEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until mid-June.

DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. » 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.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Giant Mountain Wilderness: New Russia To Chapel Pond

Rocky Peak Ridge

On Sunday a group of us hiked the Rocky Peak Ridge to Giant traverse from New Russia. The weather was warm, definitely felt like summer. The climb goes over various peaks. Colors were vibrant red and orange from Blueberry Cobbles to Rocky Peak Ridge. As we approached Giant we noticed more yellows than reds. The elevation gain is 5,300 ft but the countless views on the ridge trail make this such a rewarding hike. The trailhead is found off Route 9 in New Russia.


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.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ice Skating In The Wild

dellicechase2-600x388Skating off the beaten track brings a sense of freedom to my soul. No matter how cold it is outside, I will haul my family to frozen ponds to lash skates to their feet. I know the Adirondack chill will be driven out with a few swift glides on the ice.

I often go far afield from Saranac Lake in search of places to skate, such as along the shores of Lake Champlain and Lake George, and I always ask people to share their favorite skating spots. More often, though, I am drawn to a stretch of Route 73 between Lake Placid and Keene Valley known for its consistent ice. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

High Peaks History: The 1913 Fire at Chapel Pond

Putnam Camp 1913 Fire AftermathOne hundred years ago this September the Keene Valley faced the second massive fire to threaten it from the south since the dawn of the young century.  The irrepressible artist Harold Weston, then a young man of nineteen, was on the front lines along with his family; his father, secretary of Adirondack Trail Improvement Society (ATIS) at the time, was chief adviser to the Army platoon that President Woodrow Wilson had sent to help fight the fires.

In his collection Freedom in the Wilds Weston recounts the progress of the fire up the ridge of Noonmark and over the southern part of Round Mountain to Chapel Pond as crews of men, pressed beyond the point of exhaustion, tried to stop it with fire lines and back fires set at the edges of the 1903 fire’s advance. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Climbing Roaring Brook Falls on Giant Mountain

RB Falls 225One of the most well-known (and often photographed) waterfalls in the Adirondacks has to be Roaring Brook Falls, which can be seen from Route 73 plunging down the shoulder of Giant Mountain.

Since taking up rock climbing several years ago, I have been drawn to the prospect of climbing the three-hundred-foot falls. This isn’t a new idea: Jim Goodwin described climbing Roaring Brook Falls in a 1938 article for the Adirondack Mountain Club. The falls also are mentioned in A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, the region’s first climbing guidebook, published in 1967. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Climbing and Peregrine Falcons:
Upper Washbowl Reopens, Shelving Rock Routes Close

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARock climbers will have a few more routes to climb this weekend, according to Joe Racette, a biologist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation who monitors the nesting of peregrine falcons on cliffs.

Racette said the Upper Washbowl cliffs near Chapel Pond are now open to climbers. DEC closes Upper Washbowl and Lower Washbowl each spring at the start of the falcons’ breeding season. DEC has ascertained that that this year the falcons are nesting on Lower Washbowl. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lost Brook Dispatches:
The Incredible Story of Charles Brodhead, Surveyor

Giant from Amy's Lookout.  Many new Irene slides.On June 2nd, 1797, twenty-five years after Archibald Campbell surveyed part of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, another surveyor named Charles C. Brodhead, tasked with working to the same line but starting from the east and chaining to the west,  made the following entry in his field journal: “3 Miles, 20 Chains: assg. Ye mountain, Top ye mountain – (snow 24 inches deep) Timber Balsom and Spruce.  3 Miles, 23 chains: desending steep rocks, no Timber.

This relatively pedestrian entry has at least the curiosity of recording so much snow in June but it otherwise causes one to long for the florid prose and colorfully descriptive thoroughness of Verplank Colvin.  Colvin’s accounts of his surveying journeys make for real drama, whereas this journal, typical of the time, offers the barest details beyond the numbers, with only occasional comments on the quality of the land or detours that needed to be taken.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Climbing The Wiessner Route On Upper Washbowl

We took advantage of some fall sunshine last week to climb the historic Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff with Matt Wiech, a guide with the Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School.

Fritz Wiessner, a top climber in his day, put up the route in 1938. Like most of his routes, this one is regarded as moderate in difficulty, but it’s great fun, with interesting problems, thrilling exposure, and spectacular views of Chapel Pond Pass and the Great Range.

The crux (hardest part) comes at the very beginning when climbers have to squeeze past and then surmount a rectangular block. This pitch is rated 5.6 on the Yosemite Decimal System scale, which is pretty easy by today’s standards, but the pitch would have been a lot harder in Wiessner’s era, when climbers wore mountaineering boots instead of sticky-soled slippers. In fact, one of Wiessner’s partners, M. Beckett Howorth, avoided the block altogether, according to the guidebook Adirondack Rock. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Hal Burton’s Peak

When I first set out to explore Lost Brook Tract one of my burning curiosities was to discover what views there might be.  After all I knew the land was situated on the side of a high ridge surrounded by significant mountains; surely there had to be some great sights.  Like everyone reading this I love my Adirondack views, so I could hardly wait to go hunting. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some High Peaks Areas Reopen, NPT Trail Warning

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) have reopened access to several High Peaks wilderness areas and facilities. The Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness and the Giant Mountain Wilderness have reopened, although the Dix Mountain Wilderness and several area trails remain closed. ADK has reopened the Adirondak Loj and Wilderness Campground at Heart Lake and the Johns Brook Lodge in the Johns Brook Valley.

Roads to those facilities were among several that were washed out when the remnants of Tropical Storm Irene slammed into the eastern slopes of the Adirondacks causing widespread damage and destruction, especially along the Ausable and Bouquet Rivers, into the Keene Valley, and the High Peaks. State Route 73 is now open between Lake Placid and Keene Valley, and may be accessed by taking Route 9N from Elizabethtown. Route 73 remains closed between the Hamlet of Keene Valley and the Route 9 intersection, but is expected to open by next weekend. » Continue Reading.


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