Rogers Rock

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.

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