October, 2012

The Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl

We took advantage of fall sunshine yesterday to climb the historic Wiessner Route on Upper Washbowl Cliff with Matt Wiech, a guide with the Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School. Fritz Wiessner, a top climber in his day, put up the route in 1938. Like most of his routes, this one is regarded as moderate in difficulty, but it’s great fun, with interesting problems, thrilling exposure, and spectacular views of Chapel Pond Pass and the Great Range. The crux (hardest part) comes at the very beginning when climbers have to squeeze past and then surmount a rectangular block. This pitch is >>More


February, 2012

Ski trip to Avalanche Pass

Avalanche Lake

  We sent files for the March/April Explorer to the print shop Monday, so I took the next day off to ski to Avalanche Pass and, given the dearth of snow this winter, was surprised at the quality of the skiing. I also tried out our new Go Pro video camera during the descent of Avalanche Pass. It worked much better than my old system of strapping a point-and-shoot to my chest during my downhill schusses. You can check it out here: We may get rain this week, so the conditions could change, but for what it’s worth, here’s my >>More


April, 2011

Video: Mount Arab snowshoe

The Explorer‘s intern, Evan Williams, climbed Mount Arab recently with his father and captured the adventure on video. Arab is a small summit west of Tupper Lake. It’s a great destination if you’re looking for a short, easy hike. The hike to the 2,545-foot summit is only a mile. The Friends of Mount Arab have restored the fire tower, which offers a panoramic view of the western Adirondacks. But enough of my words. Watch Evan’s video. Snowshoeing Mount Arab


March, 2010

Angel Slides still unsafe

Backcountry skiers who think it’s now safe to ski the Angel Slides on Wright Peak should be aware that an avalanche risk may still exist. Two skiers were caught in an avalanche on the wider of the two Angel Slides on February 27, but they escaped with minor bruises. Last Friday, Jesse Williams of Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides dug a test pit on the narrower slide and concluded that the snow pack was unstable. As a result, Williams decided against taking skiers to the slide as part of last weekend’s Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival. Below is a video of the avalanche >>More


March, 2010

Billy Demong addresses hometown (video)

Hundreds of people lined the main street in the tiny village of Saranac Lake on Friday afternoon to welcome home gold-medal skier Billy Demong and other local athletes who competed in the Winter Games in Vancouver. Saranac Lake and nearby Lake Placid, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, sent a dozen athletes to Vancouver, including two who won medals. Not bad for two villages whose combined population is about 7,600 Many of the athletes had moved to the Lake Placid region to train, but Billy Demong grew up outside Saranac Lake, in the rural community of Vermontville. >>More


March, 2010

Skiing Mount Marcy: Phelps Brook section

Yesterday I skied Mount Marcy with Alan Wechsler, one of the contributors to the Explorer. I had skied Marcy just a few weeks ago, but I never tire of this trip. We had great weather until we emerged above tree line. The summit was a complete whiteout, and the wind was fierce, with wind chills below zero. Descending the summit bowl, we couldn’t see the bumps in the terrain or any landmarks to gauge our position. “It’s like skiing blind,” Alan remarked. It took us a while in this ghostly atmosphere to reconnect with the hiking trail. Once we got >>More


February, 2010

Telemark turns on Whiteface Landing trail

On Sunday, I skied to Whiteface Landing for the first time in a few years and was pleasantly surprised by the state of the trail. I’m not talking about the snow conditions, although they were superb. I’m referring to improvements made in recent years by Tony Goodwin and his volunteers at the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. The council removed boulders, built bridges over streamlets, and, perhaps most important, fixed the drainage problems that sometimes left the bottom of the trail’s biggest hill bare and/or icy. It so happens that we encountered Tony on the trail on Sunday afternoon. On the >>More


February, 2010

Adirondack ski video: Descent from McKenzie Pass

The Jackrabbit Ski Trail offers lots of great skiing over its twenty-four miles, but the best part is the six-mile stretch from Whiteface Inn Road in Lake Placid to McKenzie Pond Road outside Saranac Lake.  The highlight is a mile-and-a-half downhill run from McKenzie Pass to McKenzie Pond. On Sunday, I did a round trip to the top of the pass from McKenzie Pond Road. It took me nearly forty-five minutes to climb the hill (after skiing two miles to its base) and just five minutes to descend. That might seem like a lousy pain-to-pleasure ratio, but the schuss makes >>More


January, 2010

Adirondack backcountry ski video: take 2

This YouTube link takes you to my second attempt at making a short backcountry ski video. For this one, I strapped my camera–an Olympus 1030SW–to my chest and skied down a small peak outside Saranac Lake. The clip is only a few minutes long. Unfortunately, when I converted it to QuickTime for the Web it lost a lot of resolution. That’s why the titles at the start are blurry. I’m still learning. I hope to post more in the future.