Archive for July, 2011

Another Crane Sending Day

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Michael Farnsworth came back up for another dose of route dev this morning. I went ahead and set a rope on his Isobuttress project. He arrived shortly after this was done, and commenced work cleaning and prepping the route, while I went out and set a rope down his longterm target, the awesome outside corner at the right end of the Amphitheatre. I began setting another rope on my own project, to the right of Amphitheatre Crack, when Tom arrived. He and Mike went over to take a shot at the Isobuttress project while I began scrubbing.

I descended to see how things had gone for Mike. Not great, as it turned out; he had pulled on gear within mere feet of finishing the send. Tendonitis in his arm was partly to blame; a bit too much scruff still on the cliff played a part, too. But Mike felt he had had a loss of will, a moment of fear, and was not happy about the way things turned out. Uncertain whether his arm would allow another attempt, there was nothing to do but wait and see.

We continued our cleaning tasks for a few hours, then Mike and Tom went off to climb Moehammed, Larry, & Curly while I settled in to prepare mentally for a shot at my line. I wasn’t sure it would go. The bottom 20′ are strenuous, particularly the gear placements. Done right, the crux isn’t bad, but it’s easy to get out of sequence on it, and it becomes very difficult if that happens. While I had TR’d the line a few times, it was more for cleaning purposes than a sending test. I still didn’t have the sequence firmly in memory.

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FA of Pinch an Inch

My two partners arrived from their ascent. Mike settled into the belay seat while Tom grabbed a camera and began searching for good angles. I racked up, put on the magic shoes, and the attempt began. There really isn’t much more to say; it went without a hitch. In a short while, I clipped the anchors and lowered, pleased to have another fine line at the BAW.

It isn’t quite ready for prime time; the upper 25′ is unprotected 5.6 climbing, so until decent pro is found, that will turn the crowds away. But once that obstacle is overcome, the route makes a fine addition to the burgeoning list of Crane Mountain Climbs. I dubbed it Pinch an Inch, in part because it requires several pinches, one or two of which are “backwards,” open-palm pinches; and in part because I’m so out of shape right now (blueberry season does that to me). At 5.10a PG 5.6 R, it’s a challenging lead.

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Mike places the crux pro for the FA of Scaredy Cat.

Mike decided to take one more shot at the Isobuttress project, so we moved over there. Tom held the rope, I held the camera for this attempt. Mike was determined on this go, fighting fear and soreness as he worked up to and through the crux. A tense moment ensued as he worked gear in to protect the last difficult moves leading to the ledge, but resolutely, he placed, clipped, and climbed those last few feet free. There’s a new 5.11b on the Isobuttress, Scaredy Cat, that deserves a go by anyone climbing at that level.

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Swinging up into the crux moves of Scaredy Cat.

Rogers Rock

Monday, July 25th, 2011

It’s an amazing era. When I first started climbing, one found partners “the old-fashioned way,” by hanging out at the Uberfall and looking for other likely solitaires as the hex-clanking crowds passed by. Networking could only occur in situ, at the moment, and with little time to get to know the stranger chosen to share a rope. Now, we can meet and get to know climbers digitally. This is one place where the present is way better than the Old Days.

Such an arrangement made for a great day on Roger’s Rock this Friday past. From the virtual realm of Mountainproject, a climber emailed me to ask about climbing the slide while she was visiting the Lake George area. The weather was stifling all week, but we managed to set aside the afternoon, minimizing exposure to the sun, and moreover, arrived there in style, via motorboat.

I headed up to the YMCA Lodge at Silver Bay, where I met Sylke. From there, we hitched a ride on Russell’s boat, speeding north to the slide in about ten minutes. The sun was still shining on us when we arrived, at about 3pm, but no longer directly on the slide. Also, a frequent breeze kept us cool enough to be comfortable.

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Sylke nears the top of the first pitch of Bill Route. Our transport vessel lies below.

Any concerns I had about Sylke’s climbing ability were cleared moments after we arrived. She had her own equipment, knew her knots, and knew how to belay. When it came her turn, she took a few moments to adjust to the peculiar technique required on the slide, then she sped up the rest of the pitch without hesitation. This was gonna be fun.

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We flew through the next pitch, connecting Bill Route with Little Finger. From there, we continued up the Direct Finish, climbing through the small overhang and continuing up the crack system to its end. I had placed a cam low above the overhang and mentioned that Sylke could use it if desired to manage the difficulties, but after stepping up, she chose to downclimb and do it on her own. Which she did handily.

The fixed anchors to the right mark the standard end of the climb these days, however we were well ahead of schedule. We discussed our options, and decided to climb the traditional last pitch. Despite its overgrown, dirty state, I thought it might be fun, and it always seems to be an unfinished symphony, stopping with a hundred feet of slab still above us.

Rather than take the original finish up the corner system to the right, I opted to go up toward a left-facing, left-arching corner system. This turned out to be a bit tricky to finish off, having a stubborn clump of grass thoroughly welded to the key handholds, but we managed to claw enough on either side of it to find finger purchase and pull the flap onto the low-angle, filthy rock blending into scrub above.

The one question mark of the day came up at this point. Sylke had never rappelled before, so her initiation would be this 500+’ route. There was nothing to worry about; by the first ten feet, she was an old hand at the job, and the entire descent went without incident. We were down, packed, and back on Russell’s boat before 6:30. After a quick dip to cool off, we sped back to Silver Bay, thanked Russell for the ride, said our good-byes, and I was able to get home before 8pm and settle in for the evening with Ra.

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Sylke, rappel-pro, on the way down the slide.

Sylke attends the Friends’ Convention at Silver Bay every year, so we may be able to do this again. And several kids who rode the boat and watched us ascend the slide are interested in climbing a pitch of it, so perhaps next year we’ll have a group climbing day there.

Rods & Guns Wall

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

West/Hadley Mountain

Hadley Mountain is a high point along a ridge called West Mountain, a name that is sure to cause confusion with a half-dozen or so other mountains of the same appellation. There are a lot of untouched cliffs and boulders along its southeast flank, south of Hadley Mountain Trail (see this post  and that post for examples). To date the only cliff actively developed is the Rods & Guns Wall.

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Map compliments of Nat’l Geographic’s Topo! software.

We plan to place cairns on the path from the Hadley Mtn. trail to these cliffs some time this summer.

The path from Hadley Mtn Trail passes several other cliff bands, one of which tops out close to 100′ and has at least one extremely tempting line and a dozen other nice possibilities Steep, very steep. And dirty; but cleaned up, it would be a stellar crag. There are also several good boulders, though these are spread out rather than clustered in one tight group.

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Simple One Tree Top-Rope

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Matt W. asked for a pictorial step-by-step for a simple top-rope setup. Here, after a month or two, it finally is. Thank you for your patience, Matt.

Equipment Used

  • One Stout Tree, provided by M. Nature
  • One Static Line, 50 to 75′ long
  • Two Locking Carabiners
  • One Climbing Rope, at least twice as long as the route we’re climbing

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Here we have the perfect scene for potential catastrophe: dirty, damp slab leading to a nice cliff. No sufficient cracks for gear anchors exist, but behind us, well back from harm, is a good, stout tree. It lines up nicely with our intended route, so we can use it for our anchor.

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Sky High Update

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

For those among the crowd slavering to climb on Crane Mountain, Sky High Road has been repaired. It is now in as good a shape as ever, meaning of course, that it’s a rough, steep dirt road typical of southern Adirondack backcountry. I’ve driven back and forth to the trailhead several times now without destroying my lil Elantra, so unless you’re driving a low-rider or just have no clue how to drive rough roads, you should be fine.

A lot of hard work by the Thurman Town Crew, helped extensively by neighboring municipalities like Chestertown, Warrensburg, and Stony Creek, did what neither the State nor the Feds could manage: they pitched in, worked together, and rebuilt sections of every road in Thurman. Forget globalization; localization is the only way to survive up here!

Busy Season Slam

Friday, July 8th, 2011

So yeah, it has been awhile since my last post. Things have become a bit crazy, and I’m way behind right now. Here’s a quick update of what has been going on.

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Sending Pump Action

Work at Tom’s secret crag continues, and finally we’ve made some real headway, sending, in fact, more than half of the projects we’ve begun there. Tom put it together and led Pump Action cleanly; at 5.10a PG, it’s a strenuous – well, pumpy – addition to the list, about 10′ left of Lever Action. Without hardly a pause, he moved over and led through that gorgeous overhanging dihedral. He did come close to a big whipper on the upper difficulties, but managed to back down to a rest stance and recompose before firing to the finish line. Winchester Dihedral is a four-star route, with a direct finish awaiting a rope gun with the power to send it. Can’t miss this line: it lies on the right edge of the huge roof system.

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Working the wild stems of Winchester Dihedral.

 We’re not done – like that’s even possible – in particular, we’re working the face just to the right of Winchester Dihedral, which is another fantastic route, probably in the 5.10c range. 

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Dan Sandberg fires Bozeman Bullet

A bit later, I met up with Dan Sandberg, manager of the Eastern Mountain Sports guide school in Lake Placid, for a short session at Deadwater Cliff. If you haven’t been there yet, put it on your tick list. One of the nicest 5.6’s in the state, Bozeman Bullet, is there. Dan led it, we TR’d several lines next door, then finished the day on the 5-star Tombstone, a not-to-be-missed 5.10a.

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Heading up the first pitch of Recuperation Boulevard.

Finally, the first “official” EMS guided trip took place this week. I guided two teenagers out, first to the Measles Walls to get started, then on to the Isobuttress. We were able to TR a bunch at the MWs: Cracklosis, Scared for Life, Hamburger Face, and H1N1; then we climbed all of Recuperation Boulevard, using the by-now standard crossover to Carpenter & Das.

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Nearing the top of Recuperation Boulevard.

Now I’m in Lake Placid, pulling a three-day stint of guiding here, and trying to catch up with things like the Southern Adirondack Rockclimbers’ Festival, and this’ere blog. Way too late and tired to make much progress, but at least there’s something here that’s new. Don’t forget that festival, though! We’re camping near Caroga Lake, and bustin’ out to a bunch of fantastic crags in the area, both new and classic. Hope to see you there.