Written by Mark Schenck
It started out as a disappointment, but it was perhaps one of the most fortuitous disappointments in all my experiences. Time, money, and commitments forced us to scrap plans for Wyoming and then Scotland and Wales. We were left with the need for an inexpensive climbing trip and the Adirondacks fit the bill nicely. Isn't it strange how some of life's best experiences aren't planned?
Bob, my partner in extremis, and I backpacked and fished for a week in order to allow my foolishly ropeburned hand to heai. Brant, Schroon, and Pharoah Lakes were explored, in additon to smaller places such as Crane Pond and the Schroon River. We fished, often procuring dinner or breakfast, and marvelled at the abundence of crags that had probably never felt rock shoes nor chalk. With such visual stimulation, my hand healed faster and with the protection of a modified leather glove, tape, and gauze, we were ready to start our exploration of the vertical (and more often slabby) world of the Adirondacks.
Rogers Rock was the first stop and Little Finger with the direct finish was the route. A beautiful route in a fantastic setting was the verdict. A short new linkup variation on the Chapel Pond slabs, Hesitation on the Washbowl Cliff, and Esthesia on the Spiders Web. All provided stimulating, quality climbing in the Chapel Pond pass region. Determined to be geographically well rounded, we moved on to Pitchoff Chimney Cliff. The EL proved to be absolutely classic, Uncontrollable Desires was undesirable, and Bob's lead of P. F. Flyers was most exciting. Next, we were struck down by a broken water pump and were limited to areas close to Lake Placid. After some clandestine bivy spots, we set out for the Adirondak Loj and hiked to Mt. Jo. The setting there for bouldering is probably one of the most aesthetic around. Finally, some days spent at Poke'O Moonshine provided the final touch for the trip, with the routes there being most memorable.
The preceeding paragraph was not meant as a progress report on our trip, but as a basis for the message in this article. The Adirondacks were beautiful, clean, and uncrowded. We often had entire crags to ourselves, even at Poke'o. Initially, we were dismayed by the abundance of loose and dirty rock, even on the "popular" lines, but we later learned to "appreciate" its hidden meaning. A real sense of climbing adventure and responsibility was evoked by the settings around us. Potential for new lines abounded and we yearned for more time to explore. The few people we met were most helpful and some have now become lasting friends. Bob and I genuinely felt sad to leave, having just experienced some fantastic climbing areas with so many more that we left untouched.
Had it not been for the fateful breakdown of our original plans, we probably would have never made it to the Adirondacks. Granted, the Wind Rivers or the Lake District in Wales would have been nice, but the Adirondacks raised our eyebrows and pumped our arms to our hearts content. It is a place where one can find beauty, challenge, solitude, and reward. And for those with energy, the reward is commensurate with one's efforts. Not only did this trip illustrate the quality of climbing in the Adirondacks, but more importantly it made us realize that the whole area, not just the crags, is an area under stress and in need of care and attention. For once the surroundings disappear, rock climbing will then simply be a form of exercise that can be performed inside any gymnasium.
The only other comment I have is that I can't wait to return.