September, 2013

Climbing Roaring Brook Falls on Giant Mountain

One of the most well-known (and often photographed) waterfalls in the Adirondacks has to be Roaring Brook Falls, which can be seen from Route 73 plunging down the shoulder of Giant Mountain. Since taking up rock climbing several years ago, I have been drawn to the prospect of climbing the three-hundred-foot falls. This isn’t a new idea: Jim Goodwin described climbing Roaring Brook Falls in a 1938 article for the Adirondack Mountain Club. The falls also are mentioned in A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, the region’s first climbing guidebook, published in 1967. Adirondack Rock, the modern guidebook, rates Roaring >>More

August, 2013

Rockfall on Wallface climbing route

Veteran climber Don Mellor regards Free Ride on Wallface as one of the better rock-climbing routes in the East, but when he scaled it last weekend it was not the same. Mellor discovered that thousands of pounds of rock had fallen from the belay station at the end of the sixth pitch, known as the Lunch Ledge. “What’s left is an arch propped up by blocks,” he said. Not trusting the stability of the arch, he climbed ten feet past it (and to the left) to set up a belay in another spot. “It doesn’t affect the climb at all,” >>More

July, 2013

Family takes the Saranac Lake 6 challenge

After lunch today, I climbed Baker Mountain for the first time since the village of Saranac Lake inaugurated its Saranac Lake 6er challenge in May. Baker always sees a lot foot traffic on a sunny summer day, but there seemed to be an unusual number of cars at the trailhead. I suspected that at least some of the hikers were in pursuit of their 6er patch. My suspicion was confirmed when I reached the summit and met my neighbors, Steve and Sunita Halasz, with their two sons, Galen, 8, and Oliver, 4. They were picnicking with their friend Jessica Seem >>More

July, 2013

Climbing A New Slide In The Adirondacks

Soon after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, I climbed several slides in the High Peaks that had been created or much enlarged by the storm’s deluge. Some of these have become somewhat popular, such as the so-called Catastrophic Chaos on Saddleback and the slide leading from the Trap Dike to the summit of Mount Colden. A few weeks ago, I climbed a new slide that apparently has seen almost no traffic. I went there with Kevin “Mudrat” MacKenzie, who first climbed it last year, and a Canadian known only as NP. Mudrat has named it the Buttress Slide as it >>More

July, 2013

Artist Sheri Amsel Creates Champlain Valley Map

The artist Sheri Amsel has created a beautiful map of the Champlain Valley with illustrations of region’s wildlife and habitats. It also shows the region’s many hiking trails. I suppose a hiker could fold it and put it in a backpack, but I’ll bet more people will frame it and put in on their wall. Amsel, a resident of the town of Essex, made the map to draw attention to the natural history and beauty of the valley. “I think the Champlain Valley is an untapped resource,” she said. The 24-by-37-inch map shows roads, hiking trails, lakes, wetlands, peaks, boat >>More

July, 2013

Wooden Canoes Gather At Paul Smith’s College

Some 250 new and vintage canoes will be on display at the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association’s annual assembly at Paul Smith’s College on Lower St. Regis Lake this week. More than four hundred wooden-canoe aficionados are expected to attend the assembly, which began today and will last through Sunday. The general public is welcome to visit. One event of note: on Friday evening, starting at 6:45, there will be a parade of wooden boats on Lower St. Regis. Those who pay a registration fee ($15 a day or $60 for the whole event) will be able to take part in >>More

July, 2013

Parsing The Options For The Finch, Pruyn Lands

In an article in the July/August issue of the Adirondack Explorer, I examine the various options for classifying the former Finch, Pruyn lands acquired by the state from the Nature Conservancy. You can read the article here, but it also helps to peruse the table and maps included with the story. That’s what this post is for. The above  table, designed by Jason Smith, shows at a glance how the seven options compare with respect to recreational uses and access. As you can see, the most restrictive options are Wilderness 1B and Primitive. Canoeists would face a portage of about one >>More

June, 2013

Photos of old climbing routes on Noonmark

The other day I posted an item on Adirondack Almanack about old climbing routes on Noonmark Mountain. I focused on the Wiessner Route, vertical crack rated 5.8+ on the Yosemite Decimal System scale, making it the hardest route put up by Fritz Wiessner in the Adirondacks. The post contains photos of the route and an unusual piton in the crack.  I thought it might be interesting to post here photos of all six of the routes on Noonmark. All are one-pitch routes that lead to the summit. The gallery shows the start of each route in order, from climber’s left >>More

May, 2013

Upper Washbowl reopened to climbers

Rock climbers will have a few more routes to climb this weekend, according to Joe Racette, a biologist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation who monitors the nesting of peregrine falcons on cliffs. Racette said the Upper Washbowl cliffs near Chapel Pond are now open to climbers. DEC closes Upper Washbowl and Lower Washbowl each spring at the start of the falcons’ breeding season. DEC has ascertained that that this year the falcons are nesting on Lower Washbowl. Upper Washbowl has twenty-one climbing routes, including one established by Fritz Weissner, one of the top climbers of his era, in >>More

April, 2013

Early-season rock climbing

On my lunch hour, I took a short hike to check out the rock-climbing cliffs on Baker Mountain on the outskirts of Saranac Lake. A few weeks ago, a huge wall of ice hung nearby, with its tongue extending along the base of one of the routes. Today the ice was gone, and the cliffs were dry. I expect I’ll be climbing there soon, but Don Mellor beat me to the punch. Baker, it turns out, is on Mellor’s list of cliffs suitable for early-season climbing. “You’re looking for southern exposure with no drips from above,” says Mellor, a Lake >>More

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