Mt. Colden’s Trap Dike is a well-known feature among hikers, climbers and geologists. It is not, however, the only trap dike in the High Peaks. Take notice and you’ll find smaller dikes crisscrossing most of the slides and treeless summits. Most of these are interesting and perhaps photogenic, but irrelevant to climbing.
One of the best-kept backcountry secrets is a large vertical trap dike capped with a diagonal car-sized capstone on Mt. Marcy. It lies in a northeastern facing cliff deep in Panther Gorge and looks like a pencil-thin shadow from the summit of Mt. Haystack. This is Marcy’s Great Chimney. » Continue Reading.
Four and a half hours after our 4:30 am departure from the Garden trailhead in Keene Valley, my two climbing partners and I dropped our packs and looked around. We were surrounded by cliffs: free-standing pillars, tiered walls, slabby slides, and vertical stone faces, some more than three hundred feet high. There were caves, hidden talus fields, and giant fins of rock. Vertical cracks abounded.
I gaped in wonderment at one of the most remote and beautiful rock-climbing destinations in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
I’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.
My 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.
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.
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