SAdkRF 2015: Abridged but Beautiful

September 15th, 2015
Some of the Gang enjoying the nice weather of Saturday, SAdkRF 2015

Some of the Gang enjoying the nice weather of Saturday, SAdkRF 2015

Rain cut a day from the festival (again) this year, but we were fortunate to have sunshine for the start, and fair weather for all of Saturday.

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SAdkRF 2015 on Crane Mountain

September 3rd, 2015

Summer is suddenly coming to a close. It’s Southern Adirondack Rockclimbers’ Festival time!

Crane Mountain in colder days. At least the cliffs are obvious!

Crane Mountain in colder days. At least the cliffs are obvious!

Crane Mountain is this year’s closest venue. With over 300 routes, there are plenty to choose from. The climbing options here run the gamut: trad, sport, and aid;first-timer easy to world-class hard, crag-style convenience to uber-extreme bushwhacker’s delight.

Climber on The Underworld Roof

Buzz rehearses the Underworld Roof, an unsent project.

Since the second edition of Lawyer & Haas’ Adirondack Rock, more than fifty routes have been added to the mountain, including Crane’s first official 5.13, Dave Buzzelli’s The Drop, on the previously-undeveloped Underworld Crag. Buzz and Jim have been visiting there this season, posting that route and two other solid 5.12s. These await second ascents, as does Mike Farnsworth’s epic arête, Four Ounces to Freedom, so if you’ve got the guns, these could use some company.

A handful of 5.11s rounds out the hard side of the scale; many of these have yet to see a second ascent as well. Kirby Girard came out and worked the long-time project Tom’s Roof with Lukasz Czyz, and Lukasz was able to send the roof just this past week, redubbing it Logging Flight Time, for the many falls this line has caused.

Lukasz clipping the key cam on Tom's Roof

Lukasz clipping the key cam on Tom’s Roof

The Measles Wall now boasts a fine, short 5.11, fittingly dubbed Rocksport 5.10, after the local gym’s penchant for sandbagging their routes. Be sure to hop on this if you are into sport climbs that require fancy footwork.

Ben Brooke leads up Action Steps

Ben Brooke leads up Action Steps

For mere mortals, Crane has a bevy of stellar 5.10 routes. All the usual classics: Critical Crimps, Black Arch Arête, Torcher, Oddy’s Crack of Horrors, and more, plus some new lines that are well worth roping up for. Be sure to take a stab at Second Amendment’s neighboring line, Second Helping.

Climber on the Jammer Wall

Bruce sampling the buffet at the Jammer Wall

Tom Lane heads up the FA of Goosesteps, 5.10b

Tom Lane heads up the FA of Goosesteps, 5.10b

Intermediate climbs abound, both well-established, popular runs and fresh additions. At 5.8, Paul Cerone’s Saratoga and Ben Brooke’s I Don’t Want No Scrub are two of the nicest new lines. If you’ve not yet climbed Stand Your Ground, at 5.7-, this is a must. Its neighbor Action Steps ups the ante to solid 5.8 and is also a must-do.

Tom follows Ben on the FA of I Don't Want No Scrub

Tom follows Ben on the FA of I Don’t Want No Scrub


Paul on the FA of Bart, Springfield Slab, Crane Mountain

Paul on the FA of Bart, Springfield Slab, Crane Mountain

Beginner Routes are sprinkled across the mountain. Closest to the trailhead, the lines at the Below-the-Measles Wall are great places for timid or very young climbers on their initial excursions. Newly-developed Springfield Slab adds another beginner crag, with routes ranging from 5.2 to 5.7, easy TR setup, and a spectacular view at the top. Finally, Peter Whitmore’s On the Fence has been thoroughly scrubbed, clocks in as perhaps the best 5.3 in the Adirondacks.

Climber near the top of the route On the Fence

Enjoying the view near the top of On the Fence

Jody heads up Waterfall Center, with The Tempest headwall crack looming above her.

Jody heads up Waterfall Center, with The Tempest headwall crack looming above her.

During the festival, we are opening a shortcut to the Waterfall area, cutting an hour off the approach to this and the other far-flung crags on the mountain. The Waterfall boasts several good slab climbs and a short classic 5.10a revived from the days when it was top-roped off a tree limb. The branch is gone, but a fixed anchor takes its place, and I’ll Fly Away is now a lead route, a very good one at that. An aid route breaks through the overhangs guarding much of the Right-Steep side of the crag; Keymaster is an open invitation to strong climbers looking to free strenuous, technically-difficult terrain. Finally, for those who’ve longed to look at Crane’s most remote crags, this is the chance to cut out a big chunk of the approach. No guarantees: the routes and cliffs out there are true wilderness adventure destinations.

Tom TRs I'll Fly Away

Tom TRs I’ll Fly Away

As always, the Southern Adirondack Rockclimbers’ Festival takes place the week after Labor Day, which for 2015 is September 11 – 13th. We will meet at Mountainside Adventures’ parking at 116 Ski Hi Road, Warrensburg NY (more accurately, the town of Thurman), beginning at 430pm. Campfire there, bring your own meal for the grill. SRCFC is arranging a meal for the event again. There are a slew of camping and lodging options available nearby, though if you plan to seek lodging, you may want to reserve now. And as always, the event is FREE.

Free, primitive camping is available at the Crane Mountain trailhead. Slightly farther afield, there are primitive sites along the east branch of the Sacandaga River along Route 8, a free primitive campground on Thirteenth Lake in North River. Several private commercial campgrounds lie nearby; the closest being Daggett Lake and Glen Hudson campgrounds. Hotel lodging is available in North Creek and Warrensburg, though there is a popular local event this same weekend, so check on availability in these places.

You can get more information by emailing:
See you soon!

Crane Breaks 300

August 11th, 2015

This season, the route count on Crane has passed the 300 mark; one of my life-long, bucket-list items is now complete. My gratitude goes out to all the folks who spent so many of their recreational hours, days, and seasons searching, scrubbing, working, and sending up here.

Climber on Cliff

Heading up the final pitch of Full Recovery

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Cedar River’s Sugarloaf Mountain

August 23rd, 2014

In preparation for this year’s Southern Adirondack Rockclimbers’ Festival, we’ve been making sporadic visits to the town of Indian Lake, scoping out the nearby climbing areas – of which there are many. Much of the surrounding land in this region was acquired by the State from Finch-Pruyn in the past year or so; as such, there are dozens of crags previously off-limits to climbers that are now open and accessible. Sugarloaf is the premiere example of these.

Garth leading up the crux of pitch one.

Garth leading up the crux of pitch one.

It’s a long drive, but a relatively short twenty minute approach to the base of this mountain’s 450′ slabs. There are over a dozen routes here, most of them established either surreptitiously or under the mistaken belief that the cliff was public property, way back when (a few of them from the 1970s). We set our sights on a modified version of these oldies, an incredible route put up on lead solo by Tad Welch, and updated by him with the enthusiastic assistance of Jim Lawyer and Dave Buzzelli as the land entered public domain.

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Southeast Flank Ice

March 12th, 2014
The main routes along the Southeast Flank of Crane Mountain

The main routes along the Southeast Flank of Crane Mountain

I’ve consolidated, updated, and collated some ice data for Crane’s SE flank. Picture links to a larger image. This is not comprehensive.

1. Providence WI 3 M2 270′: probably the best ice climb on Crane. Ascends a narrow thread of ice in a giant left-facing rock corner. Bring a run of cams from C3s to #2 C4, and a few ice screws. Needs prolonged freezing temps to form. First pitch is 170′. Rappel to the base via three raps with a single rope, rappelling on the outside of the face at the top of the first pitch (there is no intermediate rap position inside the corner).

2. West Coast Connection (M4) and Fifi’s Frozen Fingers WI 3+ 80′: WCW runs up a thinly-glazed chimney system. Bring a #4 C4, just in case. FFF climbs the fat ice flow on the steep face. There is a pitch below these routes, consisting of short steep ice and large ledges.

3. Waterfall Wall WI 2 (with top pitches from WI 4 to M3) 800′: the other contender for best climb on Crane. 4 pitches of grade 2 ice, one nontechnical pitch, and options at the top wall between WI 3, 4-, or M3.

4. Tier Drops WI 4 M1 (with harder options) 125′: this short route ascends a boulder pile to reach a large ledge with a row of 20′ curtains above it. The left side is harder than the rightmost pillar.

5. By Golly Gully WI 2- 500′: This route is more an alpine adventure than ice climb, however there are options to either side along the way that bump up the challenge considerably. And it tops out beside a nice, flat viewpoint. This gully is a potential avalanche chute.

6. Northeast Cascade WI 2- 110′: While the right side is trivially easy, the left side sports strenuous corner or face climbing.


Ice Season: November and December 2013

January 17th, 2014

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 »

Crane Mtn’s Latest Hotspot

August 5th, 2013

Bruce relaxes on the upper ledge

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, GraciasNever 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.

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Listen to Your Elders!

March 22nd, 2013

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.

Posing with Fred Beckey at Outdoor Gear Exchange

We introduced ourselves, chatted a bit – then returned him to his peace and quiet, but not before posing with him on the bench.

Sloggin’ and Scopin’

March 19th, 2013

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…

Ice cliff on Ledge Mountain

The ice wall, about 1 hr east of Rt. 28.

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Who is Fred Beckey?

March 15th, 2013

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.