Jekyll & Hyde couldn’t be happier with this season’s weather. We’ve had extended bouts of wickedly-cold weather, bounded by bursts of springtime warmth, which usually involved lots of rain. Which always meant severe deterioration of the ice. We have not been stymied however. It has been a decent season so far. Read the rest of this entry »
Bruce came up last week to sample the newest “classic” line on Crane, a multipitch run up the South Corner Cliff. I’ve eyed the cracks on the higher walls of this area for decades. Slowly, those lines have seen traffic: way back when (2010?), Tom & I made a late-season onsight of Solar Grace, a route offering good 5.6 climbing with poor protection: the crack we chose turns out to be shallow and flaring for much of the way. I took a few better stabs a year later, adding Solo, Gracias, Never Alone, and with Peter Whitmore leading, On the Fence. to that same patch of rock. Last year, Tom & I worked a face lower and to the right, putting up Riprovando, a nice 5.10b; and in the waning days of 2012, I cleaned up the natural crack line to its left and posted Provando, at 5.7- a kinder, gentler way up the same wall.
And we did just that. The snows of Monday kept us from making it to Lake Placid, so we headed to Burlington’s famous Outdoor Gear Exchange to see Fred Beckey’s presentation.
We arrived early enough to give two of my climbing buddies a chance to look around what may be the greatest climbing/skiing/outdoor gear store east of the Mississippi, Outdoor Gear Exchange.
As we walked in, our eyes fixed toward the climbing department, Robin nudged me and pointed to the bench we stood beside. There sat the man himself, reading books near the store entrance.
We introduced ourselves, chatted a bit – then returned him to his peace and quiet, but not before posing with him on the bench.
With winter hanging “claws-teeth-and spines” full on, I surrendered to the obvious and pulled the ice gear out of storage. I was reluctant – downright resistant – to going back to any of the established stuff here at home (Crane), on Starbuck or Black, but Mike Prince cajoled me into a trip up Route 28 for a look-see of Ledge Mountain. Adirondack Rock mentions the cliffs there, but doesn’t give the area high ratings. However, it is pretty close to the road, and with no mention of ice rats scouring the place, there was a chance it might have something new to play on. We did eventually find some, but the real story lies in the what we didn’t do – couldn’t do, because we didn’t bring rock shoes…
If you have any sense of climbing history, you recognize the name. For those who don’t know, Fred is the most productive ascentionist in North America. With hundreds of first ascents on mountains all over North America, I don’t think anyone even comes close.
He’s also the consummate climbing bum, the paragon of the species, if you will. He started climbing back in the days when it wasn’t just considered weird or insane, it just plain wasn’t considered. He lived in a car, in a tent, crashed on couches across America, did whatever it took to pursue his passion without distractions. He climbed through the eras when climbing came into social observation, first as abherrent behavior, then as fringe element, and finally as fad. He didn’t climb with sponsors supplying his every need, didn’t climb any way or any thing to satisfy the Facebook crowd.
He’s also 90 years old. And still climbing.
You have a chance to meet this guy. He will be chatting with climbers and signing book/s this Sunday at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley. He will be speaking at the Northwoods School in Lake Placid. And he will be speaking at Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington VT on the 21st.
Our paths have crossed a couple times. Fred is personable, gentle, and fascinating. You may not see thrilling videos of narrow escapes and wild climbing moves, but you will be caught up by the passion of our sport exemplified in Fred’s experiences. If you can make one of these events, don’t miss it.
Way too much snow still on Crane. Ra and I escaped to the southlands for a chance to touch real rock. Little Falls is slightly closer than the Gunks, so that was the place to go.
We met Bruce Monroe there, already tuggin’ a line on Jeff Loves Eileen. This would be Bruce’s first climbing since the onset of a hip injury way back in September. He did fine, experienced no real problems, and even tied into the sharp end and led the route!
We saw a few other familiar faces there as well: Justin, the man who organized the Southern Adirondack Festival back in 2011, and Mitch, who seems to get around a lot, at least where climbing is concerned. We also met a couple new folks, Kevin and JP, who had come along from Mexico with Mitch, and were sampling a bit of NY-style climbing.
With rain and continuous 40-degree temps in the forecast, I’m putting the ice tools away. Soon, the wire brushes will come out of storage and I’ll be poking around Crane’s cliffs, looking for that next great project…
Nothing is writ in stone yet, but with the extended forecast calling for mid-40 temps and my work schedule, today’s morning jaunt to the Waterfall Wall may well be the last of this season.
I’ve been cussing this late snow-dump since it came, swamping paths and curtailing exploration as the season winds down. It has, however, provided a protective blanket that is preserving low-angle ice. The Waterfall Wall has decent ice…below a lot of snow. It’s more of a mountaineering route than ice route right now. I had to head to the Tempest variation in order to justify two tools, and there I found thoroughly sun-baked, rotten ice. I had to chop through 6 or 7 cm of ice to reach trustworthy material.
I did not bother going beyond the first pitch; it was totally swathed in snow. Both the uppermost pitch and Fifi’s are visible from the ridge, but I expect both are highly sun-baked. I wouldn’t recommend leading either one.
Hard telling how much longer it will last. I’m guessing it will be good through this weekend, but be out before the next.
I’ve been extremely lax about posting updates in the past two weeks. A lot went down, including a trip to Hoffman Notch with Jason Brechko, more FAs on Starbuck with the usual motley crew, and one more FA on Black Mountain with Todd Paris. I hope to post some “backlogs” on these.
ROCK SEASON IS COMING!!!
No pics to speak of, sorry. But we kept the flame burning today, as five hardy souls marched in to Starbuck Mountain to climb ice. We split into 3 groups and each took one of the threesome of easy slab routes that sit up in the broad gully that separates Starbuck Left from Starbuck Central. These were all “gimmies,” admittedly; and none were outstanding.
I had the opportunity to hike to the top of the ridge. There are tendrils of ice here and there, but nothing notable enough to warrant the steep terrain to reach it. The view is nice, with open vistas to the southwest, west, and northwest. In better ice conditions – perhaps a low-snow, early January day – it might be nice to climb a line below, then link up to some of the better bits and pieces to finish with the vista from the ridgetop for an “alpine” climb.
Returning to my friends, they had shared TRs and were packing up to move along. We all headed toward Starbuck Left to see what was left to snag. Tom grabbed a chance to climb the short, steep ice route left of Ben’s first ice lead. I wandered over to the main slabs, which were a couple hundred meters farther along. These slabs form the right side of the main climbing of Starbuck Left. They had been fully covered with ice on our first-ever visit, but were now mostly open, wet rock. We’ll have to get to these early next season.
However, there was one line that looked feasible yet. A ribbon of ice clung to the slab, sheltered somewhat by the left-facing corner system it hugged as it curled upward to a final fat headwall, where the thick ice ran up just right of a gigantic hanging block at the top of the cliff. I set up to rope-solo this line, and had made it past the headwall when Todd and Tom arrived and offered a real belay. Good thing, too: the exit moves were tricky. But there is now a 160′ WI 3+ here. I just gotta name it!
Finally, we rappelled part way down the cliff to climber’s right of the new route, and TR’d a slab with a longer vertical headwall. That was a hoot. We each chose different paths to reach the headwall, because the slab at the start directly below was ice-free. Todd took the sensible approach, up a brushy iced corner/crack to reach the real ice. Tom wandered way right and climbed a short vertical ice wall. I dry-tooled my way up to the ice, using a crack beneath an overlap.
My goal for the day was mapping the currently-done routes on Starbuck. I did not succeed at doing this. But we did have fun, and put up a couple great routes having it.