Classic Rock-Climbing History Gets Update

Climbers hike on slabs in the Trap Dike high above Avalanche Lake. Photo by Phil Brown.

Laura and Guy Waterman’s Yankee Rock and Ice, a history of climbing in the Northeast, won high praise when first published. But that was twenty-five years ago. A lot has happened since then, and so Stackpole Books recently released an updated edition.

For the new book, Laura Waterman (her husband is deceased) worked with Michael Wejchert, a New Hampshire climber, to produce four additional chapters covering the climbing scene from 1990 to the present. 

The second edition.

Incidentally, the authors define Northeast as New England and New York State, so you’ll find plenty of references to the Adirondacks (and the Shawangunks) in these pages.

We plan to review the book for the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine. For now, we just want to link to a few articles from the Explorer archives that touch on Adirondack climbing history. Yankee Rock and Ice covers these topics as well.

The Trap Dike. The famous gash in the side of Mount Colden was first climbed in 1850 by Robert Clarke and Alexander Ralph. Clarke’s letter to his mother describing the ascent is one of the earliest written accounts of mountaineering in the United States. Click here to read our story about this historic climb and our own adventure in the Trap Dike.

Fritz Wiessner. In the 1930s, he was arguably the most skilled rock climber and alpinist in the country. He gets his own chapter in Yankee Rock and Ice. Wiessner is celebrated for his hard climbs in Connecticut and the Gunks, but he also established about twenty routes in the Adirondacks. One of the best is Empress on Chapel Pond Slab. Click here to read our story about climbing Empress and another historical route on the slab. 

Matt Horner. Fast-forward to the present: Matt Horner is one of the best ice climbers in the Adirondacks. As noted in a recent post, he suffered a horrific accident in 2017, but he has made a comeback. The new edition of Yankee Rock and Ice describes Horner’s efforts to repeat a notoriously difficult ice climb called Gorillas in the Mist on Poke-O-Moonshine’s cliffs. The book footnotes an article in the Explorer. Click here to read that article.

The second edition of Yankee Rock and Ice is 264 pages (softcover), with lots of black-and-white photos. Stackpole is selling the book on its website for $19.95. It also can be found in regional bookstores.

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.

Reader Interactions


  1. laura waterman says


    Thanks for your “feature” of Yankee Rock & Ice and especially thanks for writing a review — at some point — for Adirondack Explorer — all helpful to spreading the word and greatly appreciated!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *