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Monday, June 18, 2018

Adirondack climbers want voice in High Peaks plan

Chapel Pond Slab

A climber ascends the Empress route on Chapel Pond Slab on Sunday. Photo by Phil Brown.

The Adirondack Climbers Coalition is urging its members to submit comments to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ensure that the rock-climbing community’s voice is heard as DEC prepares changes to the High Peaks Wilderness management plan.

The ACC is concerned about DEC’s plan to ban parking along the shoulders of Route 73, which passes by many of the region’s premier climbing cliffs.

“Don’t reduce parking. In fact only increases in parking should be considered,” ACC President Will Roth writes in a notice posted on the group’s website.

DEC is proposing to build two parking areas near Chapel Pond Slab that would be used by hikers, climbers, and other visitors. It also wants to expand the Round Pond trailhead lot a bit farther south.

ACC fears the competition for parking spaces and ban of roadside parking will mean climbers will often be unable to climb at the many cliffs in Chapel Pond Pass. In an article that will appear in the July/August Explorer, Roth says climbing guides may lose business.

DEC and local officials are concerned that roadside parking creates a public-safety hazard. To alleviate the problem, ACC suggests lowering the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph from Round Pond to St. Huberts and installing flashing lights to warn drivers of the speed reduction.

The coalition supports a number of DEC’s proposals, including:

  • Stabilization of soils on cliff tops and bases.
  • Kiosks with climbing-specific information.
  • Stabilization of the approach trails to cliffs.
  • Maximum group size 10,
  • Creation of a focus group to come up with fixed-anchor policy.

The coalition recommends that DEC adopt a number of climbers’ approach trails, including those at the King Phillips Wall, Spanky’s Wall, King Wall, Jewels and Gems, Creature Wall and Upper Washbowl, Chapel Pond Slab, Tilman’s Arete, Spider’s Web and Lower Washbowl, and Beer Walls.

ACC is urging climbers to write DEC before the June 27 deadline for submitting comments on the department’s management proposals. Comments can be emailed to r5.ump@dec.ny.gov. Visit the coalition’s website for tips on what to include.

The coalition is also urging climbers to attend a DEC public hearing on the High Peaks plan at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Lake Placid Conference Center.

The Adirondack Park Agency is expected to approve the department’s proposals this summer, perhaps as early as July.

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Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

One Response

  1. Paul Fekete says:

    If hikers were bused into the trailheads, from either exit I-87 exit 30 or Keene Valley, that would leave more parking for rock climbers in the new parking lots. Another idea is for rock climbing groups to get permits in advance to park in the new lots. A permit system could help control the crowds in this area.

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