SAdkRF 2011 Wrap-Up

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Once again, the Festival has come and gone. The weeks of preparation, planning, and fretting paid off well this year, and the weather was wonderful. We had a great turnout on Saturday; Justin reported 40 contestants signed up for the bouldering contest, at least a dozen spectators also attending; and I counted over 30 people coming and going at Lost T that day. Basecamp was filled past capacity Saturday night, and this year, I can squeeze in the hyperbole that a climber from Germany attended (OK, Gabe happened to be visiting family in the States, but that’s where he lives now)!

Friday
Arriving late as usual, I planned a quick trip to Lost T to check conditions, but was saved the effort by my friend Tim Trezise, who came jogging out of the woods as I geared up. He told me my destination was still wet from the past week’s worth of rain, and that he was heading to McMartin along with several friends. I decided to join this gang, and scope out the possibilities there.
The walk to McMartin takes a bit less than an hour. It is a mellow hike, passing through rolling small hills without any steep walking until reaching the cliff. Taking the left fork (where the right turn would lead to Lost T and the Annex), the path drops into the major flow leading to Chub Lake, then rises up along Sherman Mountain. At a wide, swampy creek, it crosses a rotting log; where another lefthand turn leads to McMartin (straight ahead goes to Lost Hunter’s Cliff). After weaving through several small outcrops, I came up to the main wall, which rises above a sloping ramp before dropping in the opposite direction. At the apex of the path, my friends were inspecting the choices.

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Tim Trezise conjuring a way up Harry Potter & the Witches Crack

Things were still wet, but a few lines were dry enough to consider. Tim chose to rope up and climb Harry Potter and the Witches Crack, while Peter Whitmore opted for the bolted 5.9 to its left. Tim got a head start, but the shower plummeting from 100′ above slowed his progress substantially; Peter quickly caught up. A tight squeeze chimney, poorly-protected and trickling a steady thread of water, further impeded Tim’s progress, while Peter clipped safely past the worst dampness on his line and pulled ahead. In the end, time constraints and an impassable swathe of wet rock turned Tim back. Lowering off his high piece, he began packing to go, while Peter clipped the anchor and lowered to clean Tim’s gear. Those of us remaining said farewell as Tim and Kathy headed homeward.
In the interim, Charlie Stoker had arrived. Like Tim and Kathy, he could only participate in the festivities today, and the afternoon was growing long in the tooth already. However, the late hour brought with it brilliant and breezy sunshine. The rock was noticeably drier within moments of that sunlight streaking around the shoulder of the cliff, so Charlie picked a nice-looking, short bolted line around the corner left of us and geared up to lead it. Emily took the helm belaying him, while John, Mark, and I took turns on Peter’s route. It was John’s first outdoor climb, and soon he was swinging around that big corner as his feet flew off slippery holds, enduring a sort of sink-and-swim introduction to the sport. Undaunted, he continued to work the holds, ultimately slapping the chains in victory.
Meanwhile, Charlie held it together and pulled off a brilliant lead despite a few critical, and critically damp, holds along the way. We all took advantage of the top-rope to try it out ourselves. After struggling through my turn, I had to say good-bye.
The Festival was officially underway by this time. Val, Kevin, and Todd were working hard to prepare basecamp when I pulled in. Todd introduced me to Alan, who had come to sample the Adirondack goods from his home in Lebanon, NH; and soon more people were coming in. Justin Sanford, location manager for this year’s Festival, arrived with his Nine-Corners crew. They had spent the afternoon cleaning and drying every boulder in the next day’s competition. With the breeze and sunshine, he was confident that tomorrow everything would be in perfect shape. Other cars began to pull in, and Justin’s phone began buzzing with messages from boulderers trying to find basecamp in the dark. Soon, Gary Dean’s property was sprouting tents and the parking lot filled.

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The breakfast crowd at Basecamp. Early-risers, we are not!

The Festival is casual, no part of it moreso than Friday night. We milled around, meeting old friends and making new ones, discussing plans for Saturday, and either stoking up the campstove to make dinner or sneaking off to a diner. Not many stayed up late that night; with some sweet new crash pads from Stonelick and a wealth of other prizes, the boulderers were getting rested up for the big comp; while the craggers stored their energies for the challenging leads they had in mind.

Saturday
With Lost T being so wet the day before, I decided to head there in order to set TRs so people who didn’t want a longer hike could at least get some climbing in. I figured there was no rush, so a few of us went out for a relaxed, long breakfast. After stuffing ourselves, we pulled into the trailhead, squeezing the last few inches out of it in order to park. John Ploss, area ranger, was there, talking with Gary Thomann, one of the major crag-scouts in this neck of the woods. We became part of the second wave heading toward Lost T. I wondered what we would find there: a bunch of unhappy climbers staring at wet walls? An angry mob, perhaps?

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A rather busy bit of Lost T Cliff.

I needn’t have worried. The cliff still had some serious wet spots, but the major lines were beautifully dry. Ropes were going up all over the place, climbers were swapping belays, running up and down the path to find open ropes, or sitting at the base resting their fingers.
Those two prominent crack lines, Little Kisses and Five-Star Crack, were adorned with one climber or another the entire day. The hard route running up the face between them saw a lot of action (much of it, like my contribution, in the downward direction), and several of the routes farther left kept equally occupied.

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The buzz at the base of Lost T Cliff.

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Stretching on one of Lost T Cliff’s harder routes…

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…and bending to send another.

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More action at Lost T Cliff.

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Plenty of entertainment there Saturday.

Gary mentioned that Little Kisses had once been led with 16 pcs. of gear placed. I decided to beat that record, and found out just how hard it really is to purposefully sew up a route. Even at 90′ high, I couldn’t quite get 20 pieces off my rack into the crack. Emily, fresh after resting up from McMartin the day before, decided to establish a record on Five Star Crack, and racked up correspondingly, looking like a Big Wall climber as she lugged her load over to the start of the climb. Diligently, she began the sequence of step – place gear – repeat, thickly painting the route with a myriad cams, chocks, and even one Ball-Nut. By the time she reached the top, Emily had placed 25 independent pieces of gear; about one protection point every three feet.

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Emily launching out on her sew-up record of Five-Star Crack.

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Nearing the finish line, still plenty of rack to go…

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A nice stitch-up job!

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Did I mention, it took her so long, she paused to eat a Clif Bar?

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Robin and I stayed well into the afternoon, welcoming stragglers, meeting people, and enjoying the atmosphere. As evening approached, duties pulled us back to basecamp. The place was filling up quickly. We ran down to the group area to see how Todd was making out with preparing the dinner donated by Solid Rock Climbers for Christ. One look at the crowd and we decided to make an emergency run to Johnstown for more food. An hour later and well after dark, we pulled in to a still-crowded basecamp. The extra food was good to have, so a big thank you goes out to Calvin, Todd, and the SRCFC for providing a great meal that night; sorry that it was too dark for good photos; but we’ll leave Saturday with some miscellaneous shots from Lost T:

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Kevin and Todd

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Louie and Marley

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Gary Thomann, developer of Lost T and several other area crags.

Sunday

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Typically, the last day of the festival sees a lot of people filtering off throughout the early afternoon hours, with different groups heading various ways; and this year was similar. One group headed for McMartin, while another headed up Good Luck. After cleaning up around basecamp, I followed the Good Luck league for the rest of the day.

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Peter Whitmore models the MadRock Long-Sleeve T.

Worth Russell had just finished leading a hard 5.8, and Peter Whitmore had just finished leading Mystery Achievement when I arrived at the cliff. Of course, I grabbed a ride on both of these, and then Worth and I set a TR on Medecine Man. With that added to my list, I was happy with the day. With a ton of details to tie up, I had to head homeward.

A big thank you to those who help me year after year, organizing, planning, and carrying out the Festival: Todd Paris, Bruce Monroe, Valerie Bachinsky, Kevin Heckeler, and my longsuffering wife, Robin. Equal appreciation to Justin Sanford for handling location management this year (suhweet, Jus!); to MadRock, Stonelick, Clif Bar, and National Geographic for their ongoing support and donations, and to SRCFC for their willingness once again, to feed a pack of ravenous Northeast climbers!

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Peter gets his turn on Medicine Man.

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Worth Russell workin’ the stone.

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Emily hams it up near the top of Mystery Achievement.

 

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