On the spring equinox of March, 1969, I snowshoed and skied into Bushnell Falls, on the slopes of Mount Marcy, with Sam Lewis and two friends of his from college: Henry, a young English professor, and Doug, who had recently graduated with Sam from Franklin and Marshall. It had been the first of a series of major snowfall winters, and we made our way along the John’s Brook Trail after the usual college kids’ late start in the gloom of another approaching storm. The accumulated snow lay seven feet deep in the pine plantation, as we judged from the height of the telephone line to the ranger cabin that we had to step over periodically as it zigzagged back and forth across the trail. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Keene Valley’
There’s certainly no finer way to show off for non-climbers. Roaring Brook, a 300-foot waterfall split into an upper and lower falls, is visible in both directions on Route 73, just east of Keene Valley. There’s a parking lot at the base and a pull-off right on the highway, so anyone who sees those dark spots on the ice can pull over and shiver at the thought of someone actually ascending such a route.
Last weekend I finally had the chance to climb this famous line. And, for the first time, I lead an ice route — meaning I was the first to go up, placing screws into the ice at regular intervals to protect me in case of a fall.
Two weeks ago, Roaring Brook was a brown Niagara, teeming with runoff from the late January thaw. But last Sunday it was in fine condition — fat, blue and begging for an ascent.
We were not the only ones to hear the call. The route was a veritable highway of climbers all day long, with their helmets, ropes, ice tools, stiff boots and crampons.
Best of all, the route was so well frozen over that the usual “window” at the top of the falls was sealed. In leaner times, climbers have to gingerly ascend past this open window, nearly 300 feet up, as gushing water splashes only a few feet away. In fact, Don Mellor’s climbing book Blue Lines warns, “A fall into this would be FATAL.”
The route is rated WI3+, which means it wasn’t quite vertical. Still, the first pitch was a bit dicey, with a series of overhanging bulges that made me glad my partner, Steve Goldstein of Latham, was leading. I volunteered to take the lead for the second pitch, a short climb to a flat, snowy spot below the final 170-foot second tier of the falls.
You can never quite forget that you’re climbing a live waterfall. At the base, there was a clear ice tube, about a half-inch thick, that sealed off a section of running water. It flowed silently below the ice until I chipped a hole and the sound of water had a place to escape. Soon after I started the climb, I ascended past a giant black maw where the ice met the bare rock. Part of the waterfall was visible here too, and the icicles that formed looked like the mouth of a giant beast.
When our team of three arrived at the base of the last pitch, Steve aske me:
“You want to keep leading?”
“Why not,” I said. I had been practicing placing screws and have led rock for years in the summer, but never ice before. With its forgivingly gentle terrain — but a steep gulley in the middle to offer a little challenge — the top of Roaring Brook seemed like a good place to start. I was feeling confident and strong, so I loaded up on ice screws and grabbed my axes.
The ice was perfect — thick, solid and soft enough to get a pick in easily. Near the top, the ice turned to snow, and I had to be more careful that my tools were solid. Again, the sound of flowing water was audible through the ice.
When I reached the top — with just enough rope left to anchor myself to nearby trees — I was sorry to see it end.
Interested in climbing ice for yourself? Several guide services offer climbing classes. While you may not be able to start on Roaring Brook your first time out, it wouldn’t take long to develop the skill. Try:
If you still want to take courses at the 14th Annual Adirondack International Mountainfest in Keene, you’d better act now.
The festival, which takes place January 15–17 (Martin Luther King Jr. weekend), is nearly sold out. The only seminars still open are an ice-climbing and slide-climbing course on Sunday and courses on avalanche safety.
However, those who love the mountains and are happy to appreciate them from a heated room should consider two events that weekend. At 8 p.m. Friday, January 15, world-famous mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer will give a slide show and lecture. Weihenmayer is the only blind climber to not only have summited Mt. Everest but also the highest peaks of all seven continents. Weihenmayer recently climbed The Naked Edge, a rock-climbing testpiece in Colorado’s Eldorado Canyon, rated a stiff 5.11.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 16, extreme mountaineer Steve House will also do a presentation. Considered one of the best alpinists in the world, the climber and author has made dozens of dicy ascents up high-altitude snow, ice and rock routes all over the world. He is known for free-soloing (no ropes or partners) massive faces with little gear. In 2005, in one of his greatest accomplishments, he and a partner completed a new route on the deadly, 13,500-foot-high Rupal Face, the most technical of the many dangerous faces of Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat (26,600).
House is also leading an ice-climbing seminar on Saturday but—sorry, kids—that one’s sold out.
The slide shows, $10 each, will be at the Keene Central School on Market Street in Keene Valley, off Route 73 (just follow the cars if you can’t find it). There’s also an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner at the nearby firehouse from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday. And you can demo climbing gear for no charge at Rock and River’s manmade ice wall, located at the end of Alstead Hill Lane, located on Route 73 just west of Keene. All events benefit local charities.
For more information, click here.
Cooler weather and changing colors seems to bring out the classical concerts (my that’s a lot of “c’s”). There are so many great performances to choose from this weekend. I feel a bit more intelligent just writing about them; imagine how you’ll feel if you actually get out to hear these great musicians and instruments.
Tonight in Jay is a meeting of the Acoustics Club at the Amos and Julia Ward Theatre at the junction of routes 9N and 86 next to the Village Green. The meeting starts at 7 pm and is for beginner musicians to play, learn and share experiences with music and sound in a casual setting. Any and all instruments, including the voice, are invited. Call Janet Morton at 946-7420 with any questions.
Friday in Glens Falls a Beeman Organ Concert will be held at the First Presbyterian Church. Organist Alan Morrison will play at 7:30 pm. Mr. Morrison has a very impressive resume having played at most of the fine concert halls and cathedrals in the States and Canada. You can call 793 – 2521 or go to www.fpcgf.org for more information.
In Lake Clear on Friday, local favorite Steve Borst will be performing at Charlie’s Inn. Steve has written some lovely original songs and is great at taking requests. He starts at 6:30 pm and you can call 891 – 9858 for more information.
Saturday in Keene Valley, Adirondack Brass will be holding a concert at the Congregational Church at 4 pm. Check out their myspace page – they sound great. Keene Valley has some cool restaurants to check out after going to what is sure to be an inspirational evening of music. The event is sponsored by The East Branch Friends of the Arts. For more information call 576-4769. A donation is appreciated.
On Saturday in Saranac Lake, High Peaks Opera will be performing Italian Opera at Will Rogers. This is the same group that blew folks away in Tupper Lake earlier this year and features Metropolitan Opera bass George Cordes. What a fantastic voice—I’ve heard him before and you can check it out for yourself by clicking on the link. The performance starts at 7:30 pm. A donation is appreciated.
Later on Saturday in Saranac Lake at the Waterhole the Rev Tor band gets going around 10 pm. This is in the great-to-play Upstairs Music Lounge, where the cocktails start flowing at 9 pm when the doors open. There aren’t a lot of places to sit, but at that hour it’s usually more fun to dance and sway then stay planted anyway. Rev Tor has some fine musicianship going on in their band. I’m particularly impressed with the keyboards and guitar solos.
Also on Saturday in Glens Falls the Saratoga Chamber Players are giving another Degas and Music concert at 3 pm. The performance is at the Hyde Collection Art Museum located at 161 Warren St. Call 584-1427 for more info.
You have two chances to hear Dan Gordan “International Man of Saxophone.” The link I connected to is all about a book he wrote detailing his journeys as a street musician in Europe. It looks fun—I’d like to read it—and it gives a little insight as to why he considers himself an international man of sax. This is the beginning of the new Piano By Nature season, which means that pianist Rose Chancler—who will be accompanying Mr. Gordon—is back presenting and giving concerts in her community. The Saturday concert starts at 7 pm and the Sunday one at 3 pm; both take place in the Hand House Parlor in Elizabethtown. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for 15 and under. Reservations are required due to limited seating: 518-962-2949.
Lastly, there are two chances for some open mic action this weekend: First, there is an ongoing Coffee House and Open Mic that happens on the last Saturday of every month at the Universal Unitarian Church in Queensbury. It is held 7:30 – 10 pm and you can call 793-1468 for more details. Then on Sunday at 7 pm there is an Open Mic being held in Lake Placid. The Luna Java Coffee Shop is located at 5794 Cascade Road. I can’t find a phone number for them so… I’ve no other details other than to say, Go and perform or cheer on the local talent. Thriving open mic scenes are essential for a musical community.
Photo: Alan Morrison
Goat’s milk cheeses from Asgaard Dairy of Au Sable Forks collected second place awards in National and New York State competitions earlier this month. Such achievements in the first full year of production took owners Rhonda Butler and David Brunner and cheesemaker Kirsten Sandler by surprise.
At the National Cheese Society annual meeting in Austin, Texas, August 7, the dairy took silver for its goat’s milk feta. “It’s kind of like the Academy Awards of cheese,” said Butler. Last week at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, the placing entry was a fresh chevre with cilantro, hot pepper and garlic—all from the Asgaard garden.
Butler and Brunner, with help from daughter Johanna operate the dairy from the iconic Adirondack farm once owned by artist and political activist Rockwell Kent. They retail their cheeses and a new line of goat’s milk soap direct from the farm, at farm markets in Elizabethtown, Keene and Lake Placid, and at natural food markets in Keene, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. Lake Placid Lodge also features Asgaard’s “Whiteface” chevre on its menu.
Looking forward, this year the family plans to add ten more milking goats to their herd of twenty. The sudden success arrives at a bittersweet moment: the family lost one of their original two goats—Kelly (pictured above with Johanna)—this spring.
There are several interesting upcoming Keene Valley Library Adirondack History Lectures (beginning tonight) that will include Adirondack writer Andy Flynn, historian Fran Yardley, and NCPR journalist Brian Mann. The full schedule details are below.
A unique Adirondack treasure, the Keene Valley library was created in 1885 with an initial gift of $200.00 and a collection of just 167 volumes. Today the library holds more than 20,000 items thanks in part to members of the Keene Valley Library Association, organized in 1891. The library building was completed in 1896 and the organization was granted a charter in 1899.
The Library has been expanded several times over the years beginning with the addition of a childrens’ room in 1923 and a fireproof room to hold the historical collection in 1931 which includes the Archives of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. The library also includes a small collection of 19th and early 20th century landscape paintings which hang in the main reading room. They have been selectively chosen to reflect the tradition of artists finding inspiration in the High Peaks.
Adirondack Lecture Series:
Fran Yardley: A Photo Presentation: Stories and History of the Bartlett Carry Club on Upper Saranac Lake Wednesday, July 29 at 7:30 PM
Fran will present a portion of the wealth of material she has discovered as she researches the history of Bartlett Carry on Upper Saranac Lake from 1854 to 1985 for her upcoming book. Bartlett Carry is a short portage from Upper Saranac to Middle Saranac Lake, part of the historic transportation route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake used for centuries. Photographs date back to pre-1890. Spend an evening diving into this rich history. Bring stories of your own about this venerable, historic spot in the Adirondacks.
Andy Flynn: Turning Points in Adk History
Monday Aug. 3 at 7:30 PM
Andy is the educator at the Visitor’s Interpreter Center in Paul Smiths. He is the author of Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, a series of books with stories based on artifacts found in storage and on exhibit in the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake. His books will be available for purchase and Andy will do book signings.
Brian Mann: Ten Years at the NCPR News Bureau Monday, Aug.10 7:30 preceded by dessert reception at 6:00
Brian Mann, News Reporter and Adirondack Bureau Chief for North Country Public Radio. Brian moved from Alaska to the North Country in 1999 to help launch NCPR’s News Bureau. Brian is a frequent contributor to NPR and writes regularly for regional magazines including Adirondack Life and the Adirondack Explorer.
New York Times Middle East correspondent Robert F. Worth, recently returned home from Tehran, will provide his perspective on the unfolding events in Iran that have captured the people’s attention around the world as thousands have taken to the streets to protest the Iranian election as a fraud.
Worth will provide his insights tonight, Thursday evening, June 25 at 7:30 PM at the Keene Valley Library on how Mir Hussein Moussavi, a political insider became the leader of a popular upwelling that has resulted in a harsh crackdown, the reported death of 17 protesters, a harsh clampdown and beating of Iranian citizens, and a flood video clips reaching the international media through the efforts of people defying the orders of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Guardian Counsel and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader in the largest anti- government demonstration in Iran since the 1979 revolution.
Son of Bob and Blaikie Worth of Keene Valley, Worth joined the Times in 2000, began reporting from Baghdad in 2003 and became their Middle East correspondent in 2007.
For more information contact Naj Wikoff at email@example.com or 576-2063.
Five years ago only a third of the 1,000 households in the town of Keene had broadband Internet service. By the end of this year John LaFountaine, lineman for Keene Valley Video (KVVI), the town’s locally owned Internet service provider, expects to string high-speed fiber-optic cable to 90 percent of the homes in the hamlets of Keene, Keene Valley and St. Huberts.
If you live inside the broadband bubble it can be hard to grasp that there are still people out there whose service disconnects or grinds on for ten minutes if someone tries to e-mail them a photograph. But a lot of Adirondackers are still in a dial-up world (there is no parkwide estimate of the number).
A few years ago a coalition of Keene residents, school officials, parents and KVVI teamed up to try to figure out how to keep school enrollment strong, how to keep KVVI in business despite a small customer base, and how to wire the town. Their thinking was that with broadband access, more families with school-age children would be able to move to Keene and work from home, and that their own kids wouldn’t have to leave to find work.
Senator Betty Little helped obtain a $100,000 state economic development grant to purchase equipment, and yesterday townspeople and a selected handful of Keene Central School students thanked her in a little ceremony at the Keene Town Hall.
Because of its mountainous topography Keene chose to run state-of-the-art fiber-optic cable house to house, and some other Adirondack towns are looking at using towers to beam wireless signals to far-flung homes. Keene organizers hope their project might serve as an example for other mountain communities trying to expand network access. “We’re ahead of the curve on this,” volunteer Jim Herman said. “This is Keene at its finest. So many people worked together to make this possible.” The first phase of the project will cost about $300,000; $200,000 of that amount has been raised privately, much of it from seasonal residents, and KVVI has donated labor.
Spring = snowmelt = big rivers = paddle porn. Snowmobilers had their spread in February; now whitewater gets equal time.
Most of these linked videos were made by Lake Placid-based Split Rock Video, which travels widely for fast water and film. This ultimate crash and burn highlight reel features the North Country’s own Black and Moose Rivers alongside the Zambezi and Gauley.
Here is some “classic old school” river running.
An even worse day on the Oswegatchie ends with a broken back.
The conquered-but-still-insane Split Rock Falls on the Boquet River.
Creekin’ on Johns Brook, in Keene, might not look quite as hard, but what the camera doesn’t show is that small streams like these offer few exits.
And lastly, another montage for the rafters: “2007 Hudson River Highlights.”
If you want to know when flows are at optimum levels, gauge data and timing of dam releases in the Hudson and Black River watersheds can be found at the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District Web site.
Rivermede Farm owner-manager Robert “Rob” Hastings of Keene Valley, NY, was selected from more than 60 nominees from more than 20 states for the sixth annual Glynwood Harvest Farmer Award. The awards recognize leaders in the farm community who practice sustainable production and have developed cutting edge approaches to production, processing or marketing.
The Glynwood Center of Cold Spring, NY, is a not-for-profit organization that helps communities sustain local agriculture and preserve farmland through economically-productive and environmentally-sensitive practices. The Glynwood Harvest Awards Selection Committee includes representatives of farming, conservation, culinary and community food security interests from across the U.S. The awards were presented at Beacon Restaurant in New York City.
Hastings is recognized as an exceptional innovator and community leader for New York’s Adirondack Mountain region. He has pioneered advances in season extension and pesticide-free production of vegetables, fruits, maple, cut flowers and holiday greens.
Hastings uses a photovoltaic system to meet the farm’s electrical needs and plans to install a geothermal or solar heating system to heat his greenhouses. He says that he hopes to be ninety percent free of oil dependency in the next three years.
Hastings is a founding member of Adirondack Harvest, the community-based farms and foods program. He serves on Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) Horticulture Sub-Committee, helping to guide the regional research, education and outreach program that funds projects to enhance the productivity and profitability of farms in New York’s six northernmost counties.
Adirondack Harvest Chairman Thomas F. Both helped make the nomination of Hastings for the Glynwood Award.
Hastings participates in NNYADP on-farm research and regularly hosts workshops for other growers interested in learning more about his use of high tunnels for extending the growing season for horticultural crop production. He shares his experiences with the pros and cons of the various types of tunnels, construction, glazing, and cropping patterns. He says his goal is to develop production practices that will allow me to grow multiple crops 12 months a year in the challenging Adirondack climate.
Rivermede Farm Market at 1925 NYS Route 73, Keene Valley, NY, is open May through December daily 9am to 6 pm. That’s Rob Hastings of Rivermede Farm in the center of the photo receiving the 2008 Glynwood Harvest Farmer Award from Glynwood Center President Judith LaBelle and Chairman of the Board Chip Allemann.
The 13th Annual Adirondack International Mountainfest is scheduled for January 16-18, 2008 in Keene Valley. Local guides Chuck Boyd, Emilie Drinkwater, Jeremy Haas, Carl Heilman, Matt Horner, Don Mellor, Jim Pitarresi and Jesse Williams will be returning to offer clinics on snowshoeing, mountaineering, avalanche awareness and ice climbing (pre-register soon). Guest athletes include Conrad Anker (a key member of the search team which located the remains of George Mallory on Mount Everest), LP Ménard (who with fellow Quebecer Max Turgeon climbed a new route up Denali’s 8,000 foot South Face in just 58 hours in 2006), Janet Bergman (who has climbed in Peru, Argentina, Canada, China, Nepal, South Africa and around the US) and longtime climber and guide Jim Shimberg (who has guided throughout North America and the world, including trips to Iceland, Peru, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, China, Scotland, Thailand and Canada. Jim has climbed in Alaska since 1987, with 7 expeditions to Denali, Mt Hunter, Mt Huntington, and more).
According to the folks at the Mountaineer, who hosts the event:
Telluride Mountainfilm, one of the premier film festivals in the country, opens the Mountainfest on Friday night with a custom compilation of the best films from Mountainfilm’s 9-year history on tour, with a focus on ice climbing and mountaineering videos. This will be preceded by a short slide show by Olaf Sööt and Don Mellor about Alpine Americas, their new book of fantastic photographs and essays about “an odyssey along the crest of two continents.” Both authors will be available to sign books offered for sale before and after the Mountainfilm on Tour presentation. Friday evening’s festivities begin at 8pm at Keene Central School and entry is $12 at the door.
Jennifer Lowe-Anker and Conrad Anker will hold a special presentation about the life of the late Alex Lowe on Saturday evening at Keene Central School. Jenni’s new book Forget Me Not tells a complex and candid story of how three people’s lives became intertwined to a degree that none could have foreseen; Jenni and Conrad will tell the story through a slideshow and readings. Forget Me Not will be available for purchase before and after the presentation, and Jenni and Conrad will be signing books afterward. The evening’s presentation will be preceded by raffles and tomfoolery as well as a short award-winning film by Sam Lowe on the Antarctic. The show begins at 7:30pm at Keene Central School and entry is $10 at the door.
On Sunday evening Janet Bergman will present a slideshow of her often-humorous efforts to satiate the climbing obsession. Janet is a New Hampshire climber and world-class Mountain Hardwear athlete who has climbed in Argentina, India, Nepal, Peru and throughout New England. This show begins at 7:30pm and will be held at the KVFD fire hall on Market Street, just down the street from Keene Central School in Keene Valley. Entry is $10 at the door.
For more information visit the Mountainfest 2009 web page.
The 2000 census lists the population of Keene Valley, NY at 1063. In summer the population nearly triples, and this influx of summer residents is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because the village is largely dependent on the business generated by summer residents and taxes raised from these (generally) wealthy summer people to fund its necessary and more optional institutions.
Furthermore, pressure to buy land and build second homes on it has driven the cost of living here to levels that make it nearly impossible for young locals to stay at home, work, and raise families. It’s a blessing, because the money makes it possible for this village to thrive in many ways, providing retail opportunities, service, and government jobs that otherwise might not be available.
Essex County, located in the northern corner of the Adirondack Park, is huge, about 500 square miles larger than Rhode Island, but has amassed a population of only 38,000. This rural village in the heart of the Adirondack wilderness is a thriving and lively place and the home of the annual Keene Valley Fire Department Field Day. Volunteer fire departments in the US are facing something of a crisis. Volunteerism has declined while the performance standards for membership have risen. Members of volunteer fire departments, at least in New York, must constantly train to upgrade their skills and raise money to upgrade their equipment. But a village like Keene Valley would be in jeopardy if it weren’t for the existence of the KVFD and its ambulance/rescue squad. Almost all the housing in the village and on the surrounding hills is wood frame. The nearest hospital is thirteen miles away. Without the fire department and the ambulance squad, houses would burn and people would die.
Each year on the last Sunday in July the KVFD holds its annual field day. After years of running this annual event, the Fire Department has got it down to a science. The day begins with a demonstration of fire fighting and rescue equipment and techniques. Continues with a range of activities for young children, including face painting and Tim Dumas, a magician, offers a variety of raffles and Chinese auctions with small and large prizes donated by local businesses, and culminates with a widely known and justly appreciated barbecue chicken dinner, which each year sells around 600 meals, many eaten in the fire house meeting room, while others are taken home.
A local bluegrass band, Three Doug Night, plays bluegrass through the late afternoon and early evening. Several 50/50 drawings are held during the day with half the proceeds going to the fire company and half to each lucky winner. All is calculated to encourage people attending the event to gladly let loose of goodly amounts of cash in an easy and enjoyable way to provide needed support for the fire company. Big sellers each year are the KVFD t-shirts, collected and prized by local and summer people alike. Beer flows. Music abounds, Drinking laws are enforced. People come for the party and stay to spend. While the Keene Valley Fire District is tax supported and pays the major portion of the fixed costs of operating the fire company and ambulance squad, the fire department itself runs the field day. Proceeds from this event are often earmarked for purchasing a specific, needed piece of equipment or helping defray additional costs not covered by tax revenue. As such, the Field Day stands as the major annual fund raiser for the fire company.
Perhaps as interesting as the economic needs met by this annual party are its social implications. While it has narrowed in recent years, a social and economic gulf between local residents and summer visitors has long existed. Summer people come to stay in their cottages and purchase services, which they expect to be prompt and efficient. Local people offer these services, but the gulf cannot be denied. That is, except on field days. It’s as if the fire department serves as a leveling ground, providing a place where people can meet on neutral ground and, for a fairly brief time, interact on a more equal than usual basis. Captains of industry, construction workers, media moguls, corrections officers, retired military officers, retired town workers, slackers, entrepreneurs, you name it; they’re all here. Some may seem like out of place creatures checking out the “local scene,” but real affection and cordiality is also plainly in evidence. Relationships in this community run deep and old and have a long history. They are complex and convoluted, perhaps more the stuff of a novel than a blog entry. The American story of narrowing the gulf between classes and economic status is writ large in this gathering.
In recent years the KVFD Field Day has become more contained and less wild. The hours have been shortened, beer sales curtailed, kids activities increased, bluegrass music added, and a community party has been established. Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Keene Valley Fire Department. You should mark your calendar, too.