Climbing in solitude at the end of summer

Fun City at Barkeater Cliffs in the Adirondacks.
Fun City, the crack on the left, is one of the most popular routes at the Barkeater Cliffs.

When is summer over? When the calendar says? When the temperature drops to the low thirties overnight (as it has in Saranac Lake recently)? Or when you go to Barkeater Cliffs on a sunny weekend and find no one there?

Yakapodu at the Barkeater Cliffs in the Adirondacks.
Atop Yakapodu.

The Barkeaters are popular climbing cliffs in Keene. They’re reached by a half-hour hike from the Rock and River lodge, up the Jackrabbit Ski Trail and a herd path. The two previous times I visited, I saw plenty of climbers. When I returned this past Sunday, a week after Labor Day, I was alone.

It was kind of eerie, as if I had stumbled upon a deserted village. Where did everyone go?

I set up a top rope and practiced climbing on two routes, Yakapodu and Good Dough. Each time I set up an anchor and tossed the rope over the cliff, I yelled “Rope!” to warn any climbers below. That’s protocol, but I felt a bit foolish. Maybe the trees heard me.

Yakapodu is a wonderful one-pitch climb, clean rock with diverse features: slab, cracks, corners, overlaps. Adirondack Rock gives it three stars (out of a possible five). Good Dough ain’t bad either, but it rates only two stars.

I enjoyed wonderful views from the top of the cliff and while climbing. No signs of civilization, just forest and sky. I felt guilty hogging down all that the scenery by myself. So I thought I’d share a little of it with you.

Barkeater Cliffs in the Adirondacks
The afternoon sky seen from the top of the Barkeater Cliffs.




About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

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