Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor to Adirondack Almanack, Kimberly Rielly. Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau / Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the accredited destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for promoting the Lake Champlain, High Peaks, Schroon Lake and Whiteface regions of Essex County.
A lifelong resident of the Lake Champlain basin, Rielly will be writing about the destination marketing and planning issues that affect the region’s tourism economy.
Matt McNamara, Founder and Chairman of the Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA), has some great ideas for easy places to mountain bike. McNamara recommends that young mountain bikers start with simple trails such as the Hardy Road trail system in Wilmington. He recommends this coniferous trail because for the most part the trail is smooth with no significant climbing.
“In the Adirondacks it may be difficult for people to know where to start to begin mountain biking with children,” says McNamara. “It is always about having fun and finding your comfort level.” » Continue Reading.
Earlier this summer close observers noticed a small white soul patch etched on the southern (Lake Placid) face of Whiteface Mountain. Tropical storm Irene embellished it into a brilliant, narrow v-shaped slide. Whiteface mountain today (and ever after) is showing a bit more of the anorthosite that gave it its name.
On Sunday, September 4, the public is invited to the fourth annual Adirondack Habitat Awareness Day at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center, in Wilmington.
Visitors can meet timber wolves, coyote, fox, bobcat, and opossum up close, along with owls, hawks, osprey and falcons. Naturalists will show how wildlife interact with each other and with the natural environment. The event starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. There is no admission charge, although donations are welcome.
Steve and Wendy Hall own and operate the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center under state and federal permits for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education. They are able to help injured creatures with the help of community donations. » Continue Reading.
On Sunday over 200 cyclists participated in the Wilmington/Whiteface 100 K race. While some were hoping just to complete the challenging 57-mile course, others were aiming to qualify for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race (LT100). People from all walks of life competed in this event, from professionals to Olympic athletes.
The Leadville 100 was created in 1994 and participants previously had to gain access by using a lottery system; now, athletes hoping to complete in the prestigious race can qualify through one of the qualifying races in Wilmington, Tahoe, and Crested Butte. Each of the three races allow 100 racers to qualify for spots in the LT 100; 50 of these slots are based on age group performance, while the other 50 with a drawing among the athletes who finished within the time standard. Wilmington’s race, along with the other two in the western part of the country, is one of the inaugural races, as 2011 is the first year ever to allow athletes to qualify. » Continue Reading.
Baseball has its World Series, football the Super Bowl and mountain biking has the Leadville Trail 100. The Leadville 100 (LT 100) is legendary. Since 1994, the 103 mile long race, set 13,000 feet up in the treacherous Colorado Rocky terrain has tested each rider’s determination. Among those tested at LT 100 have been seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, and Levi Leipheimer, the 2006 winner of the Dauphiné Libéré, and 2005 Deutschland Tour champion.
For the first time, one of the LT100 qualifying races will take place this Sunday, June 19, in Wilmington. The inaugural Wilmington/Whiteface 100k is expected to bring more than 300 top cyclists to the area, each hoping to grab one of 100 coveted spots into the LT 100. The race is part of the second Wilmington/Whiteface Bike Fest, a four-day event which also includes the Whiteface Uphill Road Race and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride.” The Bike Fest is expected to bring an additional 4,000 bike enthusiasts to the Wilmington area. » Continue Reading.
Team Placid Planet, a cycling and multisport club based in Lake Placid and the High Peaks Region, will host the 4th Annual Wilmington-Whiteface Road Race on Saturday, June 11th and the 3rd Annual Saranac Lake Downtown Criterium (NYS Criterium Championships) on Sunday, June 12th. Both races are sanctioned by USA Cycling, the national cycling sanctioning body, and provide opportunities for men, women, and youth of a variety of experience levels as well as first-time racers to participate.
More than $4,600 in cash and merchandise prizes, medals and trophies will be awarded. A portion of the proceeds from the race will be donated to local charities in Wilmington and Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
The June 16-19 Wilmington/Whiteface Bike Fest celebrates the bicycle with activities and events including the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k bike race (one of three qualifiers for the Leadville 100), the Whiteface Uphill Road Race and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride.”
The festival kicks off Thursday, June 16, at 8 a.m., when the Wilmington Dirt Jump/Skills Park opens in the Wilmington Bike Park. Registration for the Uphill race and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride” will also continue at the Whiteface Business and Tourism Center from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday also includes a “Fun Not Fear” MTB instructional clinic on the Flume trails from 4-6 p.m. Friday’s schedule features the opening of the Whiteface Mountain bike downhill park, at 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., a free dirt jump clinic with Kyle Ebbett, 5-6 p.m., a jump jam & trials exhibition, 6-9 p.m., and the “Brainless Not Chainless Gravity Ride.” The parade of bikes begins at 4 p.m. with a Mass LeMans start at Santa’s Workshop and takes the participants downhill, 1.6-miles to Route 86. Awards will be presented at the Wilmington Bike Park for the best themed bike and for best costume.
The opening of the Bike Fest Village, at Whiteface Mountain, a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the Hardy Road Trail Network, at 10 a.m., and the 10th annual running of the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race highlight Saturday’s schedule. The village opens at 7 a.m. and throughout the day visitors can enjoy vendor displays, children’s event, food and entertainment. Admission is free.
The Uphill race begins at 5:30 p.m., and more than 340 cyclists are expected to climb New York State’s fifth highest peak via the Veterans Memorial Highway. The race is open to both road and mountain bicycles. The Whiteface event is the first race in the nine-race “Bike Up Mountain Points Series” (BUMPS) Series. An award ceremony and barbeque will be held at Santa’s Workshop beginning at 7 p.m.
Sunday’s Wilmington/Whiteface 100k begins at 6:30 a.m. and the festival’s village re-opens, at Whiteface at 7 a.m. More than 800 cyclists will race from Whiteface to Lewis and back to the Olympic mountain on the area’s paved and dirt roads, mountain bike trails and the Whiteface Mountain trails. It’s a test of determination, guts and even sanity for the opportunity to earn one of only 100 coveted entries into the Leadville Trail 100, mountain biking’s most prestigious race.
The weekend long festival is expected to bring 4,000 biking enthusiasts to the Wilmington region. For more information about the second annual Wilmington/Whiteface Bike Fest, log on to www.whitefaceregion.com.
Rock climbers call it the sharp end of the rope. That would be the end attached to the lead climber, the one taking the risks. Some say you haven’t really climbed until you’ve been on the sharp end.
Cambridge University Press’s online dictionary defines “sharp end” as the part of any activity “where the most problems are likely to be found.” Having experienced the sharp end of the rope for the first time last weekend, I would say that about sums things up.
Unlike the following climber (the “second’’), a leader risks injury or even death if he falls. Although the leader places protection during the climb, meant to hold him in a fall, if he slips, he will plummet twice as far as he ascended above his last piece of “pro”—and a bit more if you factor in slack and rope stretch. Thus, if he is ten feet above his last piece, he falls more than twenty feet. In contrast, when the leader belays the second climber from above, he keeps the rope taut, so if the second slips, he falls hardly at all. Although I never led a climb before Sunday, I had climbed solo on multi-pitch routes on Chapel Pond Slab. You’d think that solo climbing, with no rope or protection, would be more unnerving than leading a climb. Strangely, I found that wasn’t the case.
Anybody attempting a lead climb for the first time should choose a route well within his ability. I did two short routes — “Return Home” and “And She Was” — on the Roast and Boast Slab in Wilmington Notch (my son, Nathan, belayed me). Both are rated 5.2 in the Yosemite Decimal System. Essentially, they’re novice climbs.
So why did I feel less comfortable leading the 80-foot And She Was (named for a Talking Heads song) than I did soloing the 800-foot Regular Route on Chapel Pond Slab, which is rated 5.5?
For one thing, I think my reaction says something about the subjectivity of the rating system. Most of Regular Route is straightforward slab climbing that requires little technique. And She Was, in contrast, follows a series of cracks. Which route you find easier will depend on whether you prefer slab climbing or crack climbing. I enjoy both, but for whatever reason, I felt more comfortable on Regular Route.
More important, though, lead climbing is simply harder than solo climbing. You’ve got all that heavy gear—wired nuts, cams, and carabiners—hanging off your harness. It tends to get in the way. You’re also dragging a rope behind you. It sometimes tugs at you, and it might even throw you off balance. Finally, you have to stop frequently to wedge a nut or cam into a crack and clip the rope to it, trying to maintain your position on the cliff with one hand while the other fiddles with the gear. To top things off, if you’re new to leading, you’re bound to have doubts about whether that protection will hold in a fall. I sure did.
I suspect the fears and doubts will subside as I gain experience, but I don’t imagine they ever go completely away, and that’s probably a good thing. Fear keeps you alert.
But why climb at all? Why take any risk? I pondered that question after taking an unroped fall on the Eagle Slide last summer. I wrote about the fall briefly in this story in the Adirondack Explorer. In the newsmagazine’s current issue, I describe the fall in more detail with my commentary. Click here to read it.
With summer on the way, biking at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park is about to begin. High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid stepped in to operate the park in 2005 after the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) decided to eliminate the biking to focus on winter improvements, while Gore Mountain’s biking program was also discontinued.
“Downhill Mike” Scheur, a representative of the bike park says, “That’s when [High Peaks Cyclery] decided to step up with doing 100% of trail maintenance, take over shuttle operations and all work associated with running a successful bike park at Whiteface”. All ages and abilities can enjoy mountain biking, even though it is commonly considered a risky sport. Like skiing, the bike park has novice, intermediate, and advanced trails. The unique aspect of mountain biking is the terrain, however, which is often through woods and over rocks and streams, providing an entirely different experience from regular biking. Beginner mountain bikers should stay at the lower mountain, as the upper mountain trails are indeed some of the most advanced trails anywhere. A gondola transports advanced riders to the upper mountain. A shuttle is available for beginner and intermediate transport, and a lift pass for $35 per day provides unlimited transport via the gondola or shuttle bus. With a little bit of practice, beginners should be able to graduate from beginner trails, to intermediate, and finally to advanced. For new bikers, lessons are available for $35 an hour.
Lift service mountain biking became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when ski resorts started adding mountain biking to their list of mountain-based activities during the summer. According to Scheur, the potential is enormous for mountain biking in Lake Placid: “At least 25 resorts within a few hours of Lake Placid run their lifts in the summer for bikes. Whistler actually profits more in the summer than the winter now, due to their bike park”.
There is more than just mountain biking available at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park – the facilities also include a pump track. Pump tracks are oval shaped tracks with rolling bumps on the straight-a-ways and banked corners, which enables the rider to gain speed without pedaling. The track also teaches the rider efficiency skills which will increase their mountain biking prowess and provides a fun diversion from the mountain trails.
For those without equipment the park handles rentals, service, and sales at the base area. “We also have regular (cross country) bikes and kid’s bikes,” Scheur said. “It turns out many are afraid to ride Whiteface thinking it’s only for the very experienced. Then when they get here, they notice most others are just like them.”
Scheur has high expectations for this coming season. “We have seen an increase of over 350% since we took the bike park over,” he said. “Basically, you need bikers to run the bike park and skiers to run the ski center”.
The Park opens a week before June 17th, which is the date for the Whiteface/Wilmington Bike Fest.
The Town of Wilmington has announced that the region will host the Wilmington/Whiteface 100k on June 19, 2011. Wilmington will serve as one of three qualifier series race host venues for the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, the best known and most prestigious mountain bike race in North America.
The event’s schedule coincides with the annual Wilmington Bike Fest, which includes the Whiteface Uphill Bike Race, which will be held on Saturday, June 18. Wilmington/Whiteface 100k participants are invited to “Warm UP” by riding in the mountain bike division that is being introduced this year; a five mile race to the top of the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. “The event is a perfect fit for the destination, as it supports the Whiteface Region‘s brand as a biking destination, and will increase visitor activity during the typically slower shoulder season,” said James McKenna, President of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid CVB. “This is another event that resulted from the cooperative partnerships that were cemented in order to successfully host the Empire State Winter Games. Kudos to the staff at the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) who facilitated the connection with the event organizers that ultimately brought this event to Wilmington.”
Showcasing some of the best places to ride in America, the Leadville Qualifying Series races will be held in America’s great mountains with races in the Adirondacks, Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies. The other two qualifiers will be held in North Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on July 10 and Crested Butte, Colorado on July 31. Each qualifying race will provide 100 qualifying spots to the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race. The spots will be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers.
The Adirondack qualifier will traverse 100 kilometers of backcountry trails in the Towns of Wilmington and Jay and finish on Whiteface Mountain.
Since 1983, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race has been the pinnacle of the mountain biking world. Currently 103 miles in length and 11,500 feet of climbing, the ultra-distance event is a single- and double-track-style mountain bike race on one of the world’s most challenging courses. The weekend event is produced by Life Time Fitness and challenges both amateur and professional mountain bikers to steep climbs and descents, with elevation topping out at more than 12,500 feet. More information on the Leadville Qualifier Series can be found online.
There’s more than 160-inches of snow at Whiteface, in Wilmington, N.Y., and you know what that means. More great skiing and riding for the entire family well into March at the Olympic mountain, not to mention the longer days, more sunshine and warmer weather.
Celebration activities have been planned to welcome spring at Whiteface Mountain. the events kick off with Mardi Gras, March 5-6 when visitors can ski, ride, collect beads and enjoy food and drink specials and live music from the funk, R &B and soul group Jocamo at the Cloudspin Lounge. Kids will have the chance to play in the snow with Curious George, March 4-6. The PBS character can be found at Kids Kampus each day and parents who enroll their children in a full day kids Kampus program with Curious George will receive a $20 discount off a one day lift ticket. More information about Curious George and the Whiteface Kids Kampus can be found online.
On March 12 and 13 Whiteface will celebrate St. Patty’s Day including Super Shamrock Sunday, March 13 when visitors can ski and ride all day for just $35 for adults, $30 for teens and $25 for juniors. Afterward there will be a party in the Cloudspin Lounge with live music by Trenchtown Oddities.
It’s Reggae Weekend, March 19-20, with music in the Cloudspin Lounge from the Big Take Over, Saturday, March 19, and the following weekend, March 26-27, it’s a Pirate Party at Whiteface, featuring music from Y Not Blue.
Every Wednesday it’s Coca-Cola Why Not Wednesday’s?, Present any empty Coca-Cola product and get a one-day adult lift ticket for only $38. Offer not valid with any other offers, programs, promotions, discounts, or frequent skier products. Limit one ticket per can.
There will be free mountain tours each Saturday and Sunday and on March 5, Lake Placid’s own Andrew Weibrecht, the 2010 Olympic Super G bronze medalist, will be at the mountain to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
There will be a meeting to discuss Wilmington’s recreation options now and in the future and to develop a Wilmington Recreation Plan on Thursday, February 24th at 7:00 PM at the Wilmington Fire Station Meeting Room. The purpose of the meeting is to gather residents to identify Wilmington’s recreation resources and determine what resources currently exist; current and future project needs; priorities; how residents can work together to develop and maintain their resources; available funding; and what kinds of information residents and tourists need to take the best advantage of local recreation resources. Speakers will include Town Supervisor Randy Preston, who will provide an update on current recreation projects; Highway Superintendent Bill Skufka, who will discuss roadways for bikes and pedestrians; Matt McNamara on Mountain bike trails; Carol Treadwell, who will provide an update from the Au Sable River Association; Department of Environmental Conservation Forester Rob Daley, Wilmington Wild Forest’s Unit Management Plan; Josh Wilson, of Rural Action Now/Healthy Heart Network on shared roadways and a recreation plan model; and Meg Parker of the Wilmington Youth Commission, who will discuss the Park.
Most Adirondack ice classics line the road near Keene Valley or Cascade Pass, clustered together, but Multiplication Gully stands alone, hiding deep in a crevice along Route 86 near Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort. Breaking the fortress of impenetrable cliff lining the road, that crevice glistens white once temperatures dip below freezing. Only a glimpse is afforded drivers as they pass the fault, so it isn’t surprising that Multiplication Gully wasn’t discovered for so long.
Six years after Yvon Chouinard brought front-pointing and short tools to the Adirondacks, two relative unknowns reported ascending the slot that hides within that crack. Alan Spero and Tom Worthington snagged what has become one of the most sought-after ice climbs in the Park, then they practically vanished to the annals of Adirondack climbing history. Every winter, I visit this crystalline gem at least once. The combination of claustrophobic crevice and mind-boggling exposure, with its view of Moss Cliff framed by the surrounding rock walls, creates a unique experience. I’m not alone in that regard: Multiplication Gully is one of the most popular routes in the Northeast.
This popularity comes at a price. On weekends, there’s a queue clumping up at the base, often several parties awaiting their chance to head up the ice. Since the route follows a natural channel, anything falling from above heads directly down it, so following parties become the unexpected targets of ice, dropped gear, and plummeting climbers. If another car is parked in the lot, look for climbers already on the route, and if possible, wait until they are nearing the top before hiking up to it.
Climbers should park in the pullout on the opposite side of the highway, about 200 feet east of the boulder marking the start of the access path. While the route appears close to the road, the trail to it winds among a thick stand of conifers, then meanders up a treacherous, icy talus pile to reach it, so the approach takes about ten minutes.
Once at the base of the route, place gear and the belay to the right, sheltered by a rock overhang. Handy trees provide a quick belay anchor and an initial protection point just as the real climbing begins. Be careful to put any gear staying at the bottom off the wet ice in the rock alcove, where it won’t get covered with snowfall or damaged by falling ice. Be mindful that other climbers will almost certainly be arriving; keep your items together and compact.
The first pitch provides a good warm-up for the difficulties to come: it is a moderate WI3 with plenty of rests between steep spots. These ledges accrue a lot of snow, but since the route is popular, they get packed down quickly. Work up the line as desired, but don’t stop at the fixed anchor on cedar trees to climber’s left. Instead, continue up another twenty feet to a wide, level area, then walk climber’s right along a ledge and build an anchor well out of the bomb zone (I usually place a screw in the ice face above the ledge to redirect the belay and provide a first piece of protection for the second pitch).
The second pitch begins with a short, steep WI3 wall, then narrows considerably as it winds up toward the top. Above the first step, the ice rears up briefly, with a dead-vertical pillar on the left and a bulging rock wall on the right. Most parties opt to climb the thread of ice lying between these two barriers, gaining height by chimneying with crampons on the pillar, back against the rock, and tools lashing desperately in the wasp-waisted strip overhead. Another brief respite lies after this, and then the final obstacle: the line, almost strangled by an overhanging wall of rock on the right and a steep rock ramp to the left, twists through a twelve-inch slot. There are two options for this spot: either pick oh-so carefully up the verglas on the ramp to a vertical ice pillar finish, or squeeze along that slot, making the most of rock holds and shallow ice before sinking a tool in the duff on top and working left to the fixed anchor. With two 60 meter ropes, rappel the route, being careful of climbers below. Stay to the left, gaining that anchor near the top of the first pitch.
Jay Harrison lives in the southern Adirondacks, works as a climbing guide, and occasionally writes about his antics on his own blog.
Photos: Above, climber Travis King on the second pitch; Middle, look for this stone marking the approach path’s start; Below, view of Moss Cliff from the top of Multiplication Gully. Photos courtesy Jay Harrison.
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