By Mike Lynch
A leading Adirondack guide service doesn’t plan to open this summer for rock climbing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adirondack Rock and River owner Ed Palen told the Explorer that after discussing the issue with his climbing guides they decided they couldn’t take clients out without the risk of spreading the virus.
“You can’t social distance in rock climbing in our opinion,” said Palen, whose business is based in Keene.
Guides have to share handholds and many of their teaching methods require being in close proximity of the clients.
“They decided they didn’t want to guide under those conditions,” he said.
Adirondack Rock and River’s guides include Matt Horner, who is considered one of the best ice climbers in the Northeast; Jeremy Haas, co-author of the “Adirondack Rock” guidebook; and several other accomplished climbers. The guide service partners with The Mountaineer gear store in Keene Valley to host the Mountainfest, an annual ice climbing festival in January.
Palen said he will consider hiring out hiking guides this summer, but that’s only 5% of his guiding business. Meantime, he said he would monitor the pandemic and re-evaluate in the fall and winter when the time comes.
Rock and River will take a revenue hit from not using climbing guides, but 75% of its income is from its two lodges, Palen said. Those will continue to operate on a more limited basis and won’t open until mid-June even though they are legally allowed to open now.
“It’s the guides that I feel sorry for,” Palen said.