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. Jake says

    Looks like someone finally cleaned up the trash. It’s important that we as climbers clean up our own messes and don’t leave unsafe old gear on the rock. Regardless of who placed it. Just remember Lynn only sent the nose because they pulled a pin to use that crack as the crux hold. This behavior is completely acceptable.

  2. ChapelPondGirl says

    People do clip, and fall, on fixed pegs all the time, especially those who never went through a mentorship period with a knowledgeable and experienced leader. There are folks who regularly climb the slab these days who lack that formal education.

    Some Pins pull remarkably easy. The older they are, the easier they pull. I’ve been responsible for more than one broken piton in the Gunks (all backed up with other gear). One of them came from a classic 5.9 at Millbrook called White Corner, and had to be over 40 years old. It still decorates a shelf in my house. I claimed that right when I took a thirty footer on it and snapped it in half.

    Why are we so quick to paint the climbing community as would be thieves? These things are probably all similar ages, and thus would stand to reason that they would fail at a similar time. Most likely someone fell on it and ripped it out, or tested its merits with a funkness device, and found it dangerously loose.

    Consider it a proactive safety mitigation and be happy someone didn’t die clipping that relic.

    • Phil Brown says

      I would hope anyone leading a multi-pitch climb on the slab would possess enough common sense not to clip a piton as old and rusty as those on Empress and Bob’s Knob Standard–especially since it’s not necessary, given the good cracks nearby. Those ring pitons had been there for decades, perhaps since the 1940s or ’50s. It’s too much of a coincidence to think they both pulled out this summer. And what about the angle piton on Empress? Did that also pull out this summer? The only reasonable assumption is that someone removed them.

  3. ADKClimber says

    The title of this article is misleading and dangerous. There’s no evidence presented that these pitons were stolen. Saying so is accusatory and demeans the climbing community. Old fixed hardware rusts out overtime and whether a human was there to remove it or not could never be known.

    • Phil Brown says

      See my reply to earlier comment. I have no doubt the pitons were taken. Saying so doesn’t demean the climbing community, only the person who took them.

  4. Bill Keller says

    I understand leaving this piton behind in the 1940’s was acceptable, but “leave no trace” applies today. Remove all the human litter you find.

  5. Seth Gross says

    Phil, your perspective on this is bizarre. If those pitons could be removed by hand, then the person who removed them was doing a great service to the cliff and the community. Your blithe insistence that no one would ever rely on these relics for safety is unrealistic. People would and very likely did, until someone with better sense took these time bombs away.

    • Phil Brown says

      Seth, I’m familiar with the piton on Empress. I don’t think it could have been removed by hand. It’s even less likely that the angle piton on the first pitch could have been pulled out by hand. Hard to imagine someone skilled enough to lead a multi-pitch climb clipping a rusty ring piton on the fifth pitch.

  6. Paul Hekinon says

    I’m a little confused. Were they stolen, which implies a crime, or are they … not there? Oddly clickbaity headline for the Explorer.

    I’d say more, but Seth Gross already did.

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