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Adirondack Explorer

October, 2017

An Adirondack Climber Discovers Spanish Limestone

The Adirondack Explorer’s editor enjoys a day on a rock tower overlooking the Mediterranean.


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


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

Climbers Encounter Bear Near Chapel Pond

Rock-climbing guide Will Roth was rappelling down a cliff near Chapel Pond with two clients this week when they saw a bear below—climbing toward them. The climbers yelled and clapped their hands, but the bear kept coming, its claws scratching the rock like fingernails on chalkboard. When the bear got within fifteen feet, Roth tossed a small rock and struck its shoulder. The bear seemed unfazed but nevertheless wandered away. “It walked off the side of the slab into the trees and then reappeared. It was standing at the top of the slab, staring back down at us,” Roth said. >>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

Fritz Wiessner’s Old Climbing Routes Still Hard

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 >>More


May, 2017

John Case’s Historic Climbing Route In Adirondacks

Bob’s Knob Standard is not the best rock-climbing route on Chapel Pond Slab, but for the novice it’s a superb introduction to multi-pitch climbing. As one of the oldest routes in the Adirondacks, it also lays claim to some interesting history. I climbed Bob’s Knob Standard last weekend with my girlfriend Carol. We had done it twice last year, but because she is new to climbing, she wanted to do it again for practice. Once again, she loved it. Though considered easy, it posed a few challenges and always kept our interest. The scenery as we climbed got better and >>More


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