Adirondacks – New York State

Climbing in the Adirondacks is often characterized by rain and blackflies, but changes in nature during the cool autumn months as the trees take on their fall colours. The views become brilliant, but the climbing can quickly take on a serious nature if the weather turns.

For more information, pick up the guidebook Climbing in the Adirondacks by Don Mellor.

The Diagonal – 5.8 Wallface

Wallface is a wilderness adventure, far from the trailhead. I suggest hiking in from the South which is shorter, getting a very early start and carrying emergency gear. Few people make it in from the trailhead then back out by dark in the short fall days, so be sure to carry headlamps and spare batteries.

The first time I climbed the Diagonal, we ran into a couple of idiots we quickly named ‘Beavis and Butthead.’ Beavis was a self- proclaimed weak 5.8 leader and his partner, Butthead could barely climb 5.5. The Diagonal gets progressively harder the higher you go, so they slowed to a crawl in the last pitches until they came to a halt on the last pitch. Their glorious leader managed to aid climb to the top, but Butthead couldn’t get off the ledge.

By this time, a cold wind was coming up and wearing nothing but T-shirts, the two of them were quickly going hypothermic. We quickly lead through and set up a hauling system at the top and hauled his sorry ass up. Once at the top, they sulked off into the woods without even a thank-you as we cleaned up the gear.

Knowing that they had no flashlights, matches or warm cloths (they had hauled an empty pack!?!), we searched for them on the decent as night fell. A few hours later we reached the bottom and found their gear still at the base of the route and we had not seen them. No longer caring, we left them to the dark and cold and began picking our way back through the house sized talus back to our camp which we didn’t reach until after midnight.

We could not have passed the two of them easily on the decent unless they got lost in the dark and wandered down the West side of the mountain. At the very least, they spent a long, cold night and sometimes I wonder if they’re still up there. If you guys are still alive, send me a note and let me know what happened.

Gamesmanship – 5.8 Poco Moonshine

A beautiful hand crack leading up from the ground, followed by a couple less than memorable pitches, then another perfect crack and some pleasant slab to the top. Despite the unpleasant middle pitches, this is still one of the climbs to do at Poco. “High Value!”

By the way, what is a Poco?

Hesitation – 5.7 Upper Washbowls

Whenever I find one of John Turner’s routes, I know that I am in for an experience. We decided to do this route the day after another climber had taken a bad fall and the memory of him coming down on a stretcher left us a little spooked. The Hesitation is at the top of the first pitch and is what had gotten the other climber. It is a committing balancy move up to the belay without the best pro.

The second pitch is the technical crux. It climbs a dirty corner system, then traverses way out right under a roof. It then surmounts a small overhang before a scary bit of 5.6 climbing with no pro and wicked rope drag.

The third pitch allows you to relax a bit, it is a 5.4 that just requires some judgment with loose rock. The final pitch is amazing. It is rated at 5.6, but is the hardest six I have ever done. Typical for Turner (see Sweat Dreams at Bon Echo, another of his routes). It climbs up a steep corner and overhanging chimney till you hop over the top. Don’t let those jugs tempt you, ’cause their not!