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Adirondack Explorer

October, 2017

Accidents In Adirondack Climbing In 2016

Each year the American Alpine Club publishes a little book titled Accidents in North American Climbing, on the theory that reading about accidents is one way to avoid them. Usually, most of the reports are from out west or Alaska. Occasionally, an accident in the Adirondacks makes the book. This year, however, a full three pages are devoted to our region, with four mishaps described in detail. All occurred in 2016 (the year covered by the book). I will summarize them below, using the headlines from the book. Leader Fall on Ice: Thin Ice, Inadequate Protection We wrote about this >>More


September, 2017

Comparing Two Classic Climbs On Wallface and Cannon

Wallface is the biggest cliff in the Adirondacks and so naturally has attracted the attention of rock climbers from way back. The first recorded routes were put up by two of the country’s best climbers of the 1930s—John Case and Fritz Wiessner. The authors of Yankee Rock and Ice say Wiessner regarded Wallface as the loveliest climbing cliff in the Northeast, because of its “feeling of altitude” and “charm of solitude” (Frtiz’s words). Soon after I started climbing, my friend Mike and I went up Wallface with the help of Don Mellor, who is nearly as famous in these parts >>More


September, 2017

Can Any Adirondack Hike Top Franconia Ridge?

I haven’t spent much time in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, largely because there is so much to do here in the Adirondacks. It was a case of not knowing what I was missing. In late August, Carol MacKinnon Fox and I spent four days in the Whites, hiking and rock climbing. One of the highlights was a hike on Franconia Ridge. It’s a nine-mile loop that takes you over three of New Hampshire’s tallest peaks: Little Haystack, Lincoln, and Lafayette (at 5,260 feet, the highest of the three). We took the Falling Waters Trail (which lives up to its >>More


August, 2017

Guide Rescues Solo Climber Near Chapel Pond

Shipton’s Arete is one of my favorite places to take a novice rock climber. The three routes on the arête are all pretty easy. There’s a good anchor for a top rope. And the arête overlooks scenic Chapel Pond. The easiest route, Shipton’s Voyage, is rated only 5.4 on the Yosemite Decimal System scale of difficulty—meaning most beginners can do it on a top rope. However, climbing Shipton’s Voyage—or any route—without a rope is another matter entirely. An eighteen-year-old man learned that lesson the hard way this month. On August 14, the young man set about soloing the arête, with >>More


July, 2017

Climbing Crane With The King Of The Mountain

Jay Harrison lives at the base of Crane Mountain, but he probably spends more time on the mountain’s many cliffs than in his house. The guidebook Adirondack Rock devotes no less than seventy-three pages to the rock-climbing routes on Crane. This is thanks to Harrison, who has participated in about 350 first ascents in the Adirondacks—more than anyone else. Most of his routes are at Crane. He clearly is the king of the mountain. In 2013, veteran climber Don Mellor wrote a profile of Harrison for the Explorer. It’s well worth reading, both for Don’s writing and for understanding who >>More


July, 2017

Bouldering On Baker: A Non-Routine Workout Routine

Baker Mountain on the edge of the village of Saranac Lake is one of the most popular peaks in the Adirondacks. Like many other local residents, I’ve hiked it countless times and thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. Will Roth recently made the hike to Baker’s summit more interesting for rock climbers: he has established a bouldering circuit of six “problems” (miniature climbing routes), all located just off the trail. It’s just one more example of why Saranac Lake is a cool place to live. Will says the challenge is to complete the circuit while hiking to >>More


July, 2017

The Thrill Of Climbing At Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks in West Virginia is billed as the only peak in the eastern United States that can’t be summited by a mere hike. You need (or should have) ropes, helmets, and other rock-climbing gear. If you ever have the chance to see Seneca Rocks close up, you’ll see why. Seneca actually has two peaks, North and South, with a U-shaped col between known as Gunsight Notch. Over the eons, the peaks have shed layers of rock, leaving only narrow ridges leading to the summits. In places, the ridge leading to South Peak is only a foot or two wide. >>More


June, 2017

Popular Owls Head Trail Closed On Weekends

The trail to one of the most popular small mountains in the High Peaks region is now closed on weekends because of problems with parking and hikers. Owls Head in Keene has long been a favorite with families and people looking for a short hike with a great view. The trail to the summit is just 0.6 miles long. Rock climbers also use the trail to reach cliffs just below the summit. The trail crosses private land at the start. The parking area on Owls Head Lane (off Route 73) also is on private land. The trail and parking area >>More


June, 2017

ADK Finishes Overhaul Of Guidebook Series

With this year’s publication of Western Trails, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) completed the most recent overhaul of its Forest Preserve Series of hiking guidebooks—and the club is already hard at work on the next edition of the series. ADK’s hiking guidebooks used to divide the Adirondack Park into six regions. The club has pared that down to four regions (still covering the entire Park). In addition, ADK continues to publish a separate guidebook for the Northville-Placid Trail. The regions have been reconfigured to coincide with National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps for the Adirondacks. Western Trails, for example, describes the >>More


June, 2017

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Brook Is Not Flatwater

I took this photo of Big Brook early Friday evening while driving between Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Route 30. If you’ve driven that highway, you’ve probably admired this scene. And if you’re a canoeist, you’ve probably wondered if the brook can be paddled. It certainly looks inviting. Several years ago, I succumbed to curiosity. At the time, I was researching my guidebook Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures. I thought Big Brook might make the cut. It turned out to be a dumb idea. Big Brook starts as the outlet of Stony Pond in the William C. Whitney >>More


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