Archive for February, 2012

Could It Be?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Another Recon Day, at least in part. Back to Nameless Knob, this time to survey the easternmost conifer-capped ridge. One can see a rocky cliff from Route 8 when looking up at the mountain from the small vly between the Siamese Ponds trailhead and the Kibby Pond trailhead, so I figured it would be worth inspection for a summertime project, even if it doesn’t have ice.

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Yep, it has some. Not going to be an Adirondack megaclassic, but there’s enough here to make a viable sideshow for the upcoming SAdkRF 2012. The cliff ranges from diddly to perhaps 70′ at most, probably averages around 40′. There are several tempting cracklines, a 50′ slabby buttress, and some possible bouldering below the cliff. The main area is three outcrops clustered together, with a few smaller ones flanking them. I saw another cliff below me, but did not go down to inspect it; that can await another tour.

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There are definitely a few worthwhile rock lines here. I spied one potential ice line, but if it really is one, it wasn’t in shape today. Farther north, a few short tendrils hinted at possibilities in better years, but they didn’t look all that impressive.

NOTE: The following bit is, I believe, mistaken. The peak in question is probably Puffer Mountain, with a cliff famous for having the most difficult approach in the Adirondacks. Still, it looks great! – JH, 20th March, 2012

What may be more important, for both rock and ice, is the view from the top of this ridge. Looking at a map, I had to climb up on it and follow it eastward to hit the Siamese Ponds trail anyway, so I did. I spent quite awhile taking pictures of hillsides in the distance with my full-on 300mm lens. When I booted these up on the computer, one in particular grabbed my attention:

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What pile is this? I think it is Humphrey Mtn…

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If so, magnify the image a bit and one begins to see something of interest…

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…as this Sasquatch-style photo, highly clarified, reveals. If this is Humphrey, we gotta get there!

If this is indeed Humphrey Mountain, there is big potential on that southeast side. I can’t wait to get out there and really circumnavigate the massif!

Negatory Exploratory

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Sometimes, the only information from a recon is negative. You find nothing. This isn’t a good outcome: not only do you return with nothing to show for your labors, but you cannot be certain you didn’t miss something. Years roll by, and you begin to wonder about those places again. Such was my frame of mind last Thursday, when I headed out to look over the Kibby Pond surroundings.

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Rough depiction of the reconnaissance trip. Potential ice routes are marked with an “X”.
Map from Nat’l Geographic Topo! Software

Robin & I snowshoed out to Kibby Pond two years ago. I dimly recalled seeing some ice on the hillside across the lake, but couldn’t recollect a clear image of it. I returned to trailhead, hiked up to the pond (snowshoes weren’t quite necessary, but it was pretty close), walked northeast across it (discovering that is much easier to walk on the pond than on the far shore, btw), then bushwhacked up the marshy terrain at the head of the pond. I cut left, north-northwest, up the valley, then climbed a small ridge hiding the larger one behind it. From the pond, I had spied a few tendrils of ice on that conifer-topped outcrop, but up close, I didn’t see anything worth coming back for. That slope faces south/southwest, so the sun may have robbed it of otherwise stellar ice (there’s that “absence of proof is not proof of absence” thing for you); in any case, nothing stood out crying to be climbed.

I continued walking along the base of the steep slope as the snow began to fly hard. Soon, I could hear the occasional truck along Route 8, and then realized that to my left was a lot of recent logging slash. I was walking the border between State & private land. I hadn’t planned on coming quite this far northeast, but there it was: this ridge is the same one that holds the enticing ice line visible from near the Siamese Ponds trailhead. Unfortunately, as the map above indicates, this ice is on private property. I didn’t bother heading over to it. Instead, I cut across as quickly as I could to return to State Land and thence my car.

During the entire trip, I saw only one potential ice line on State land. It lies almost directly east of Kibby Pond from where the trail reaches it. It didn’t look particularly interesting: no grand hanging curtain or multipitch flow, just a fat patch of ice flowing over a steep wall below a slab. Not, IMHO, a destination worth reaching. If you want to camp out and do some exploratory ice climbing, this might be an OK choice, though even in that regard I can think of many better crannies in which to peek.

Nameless Knob Ice

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

With three trips to Nameless Knob, two with several unsuspecting victims friends, we now have enough ice routes to offer up this miniguide.

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1. Riverside
2. Highside
3. Hidden Ravine
4. Hidden Hollow
Map by Nat’l Geographic’s Topo! Program

(more…)

Another Secret Stash

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

No one to play with, and weather that makes no sense whatsoever. With the forecast threatening everything from nothing to four inches of snow, the sunshine streaming through my window finally made action imperative. I tossed some things willy-nilly into the car, and drove a short distance to one of those places I’ve been wanting to go, or rather, return to; a place I hadn’t been to in a long while. As in, a decade.

I won’t bore you with the details. No climbing done: the rock was too dirty, too wet, or too difficult, and I didn’t bring my rock shoes along; the ice was too soft and steep. I expect there will be more about this area in the near future.

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Pretty lil’ south-facing rock wall. Overhangs oh so gently, guessing it is 50 or 60′ tall.
Real nice assortment of crack lines to climb.

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What I came for, hoping it wouldn’t be beat to death.
It wasn’t, quite, but the patient was too far gone to operate.
That second tier is 30’+ tall.

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These curtains are short, 25′ tall or so. But dead vertical.

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Man! If only I had come here a month ago.

 

Exploration Day

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Lousy ice here on Crane; too warm for the steep stuff, too cold to climb rock. What’re you going to do? I chose to explore an area that has been on my hit list for quite some time. I figured if I found viable ice in these conditions, it would be dependable stuff. I also figured it was time to take the fancy camera for a walk, so today I lugged the behemoth over hill and dale.

My destination isn’t far from home, so it wasn’t long before I parked the car and began walking into the unknown. I couldn’t find the trail, but knew it would show up once I got to the river; sure enough I stumbled onto it after five minutes of easy bushwhacking and one creek crossing. The trail ran along the river, which wasn’t quite what I had in mind, so at first I veered off, walking up a narrowing hollow. Soon, the right flank of the ravine steepened, and sure enough, I spied ice flows running down it. They are about 50 – 60′ tall, short for ice routes, but adequate. The most interesting, steep ones looked anemic, but there was one fat one tucked between rock buttresses that looked to be in good shape. I hadn’t walked long, they are only fifteen minutes from the road. Not exactly a gold mine, but a decent find.

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The first flows I found. They’re about fifty feet tall.

The ravine began slicing upward; although I suspected it ran toward my destination, I didn’t want to miss anything down low. Instead of ascending, I returned to the river to see the sights along it, and to find out if the steepening hillside held anything else. The river narrowed as I entered a tight-walled gorge. Across from me, great slabs of ice issued from the banks about ten feet above the water; had they poured forth from higher promontories, they would have made excellent climbing. They were picturesque, at least.

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The ice slabs across the river.

After perhaps an hour of casual walking (interspersed with occasional foolishness, like slithering down the icy ledges to take pictures), I passed the falls I had hoped to see. They were not nearly as large as I thought they were, and they were completely hidden under ice. I could hear them, but couldn’t see them. Above them, the river quickly widened, as did the surrounding terrain. Opposite me, a small mountain, set back slightly, rose up quickly. I could see ice on its flanks, but nothing large; perhaps one worthwhile flow in a notch between two of its summits, but of course, the river betwixt me and finding out.

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Ice flows high on the mountain across the river.

My goal lay on top of the mountain I had just walked along the base of through that gorge. Although I saw plenty of ice along the riverside, there were only two or three that made it to thirty feet tall or so. I thought I might find something bigger along the steep flanks higher up. As it became apparent that I was nearing the far side of that mountain, I finally began cutting upward.

It was steep going, and very icy. Soon, I walked up through an old-growth hemlock grove, the ground a veritable jungle of ice flows, every one of them too short or too easy to make worthwhile climbing. After weaving back and forth for closer investigation of several deceptive lines, I gave up on the chase in this particular spot and made for the top. The summit of the mountain is a hodgepodge of knobs and ravines; after wandering around awhile, I found the one that looked most likely to bleed ice. The northwestern slope turned out to be a dud: far too short, and not steep enough; but when it turned and began running south, I was happy to see glistening bands running down the face. Once again, they weren’t tall, perhaps forty feet or so, but there were several good-looking options. This high, many of them were not in good shape: the sun was tearing them up, but several were sheltered enough to be climbable still.

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Short ice near the top of the mountain.

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They’re getting taller…

I continued downward, to a point where the ravine merged with another one heading upward to my right. That looked intriguing, so I followed it to its end in a small box canyon. There, I scrambled up to a level ridge, hoping for a glimpse of something on the river side of the mountain. Tantalizing bits of ice, but nothing definitive was visible. After awhile, I cut back to my original ravine. At the junction, I could see a small rise separated this drainage from the start of another, so rather than go straight down, I cut up and along the ridge to have a look at the slopes across the way.

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Lousy picture, good ice. Trust me, it’s there.

Bingo! This was the sort of thing I was looking for. Several emaciated lines lay on the face across this ravine, and they were tall enough to make a long pitch, perhaps a hundred feet or more high. Not all were sun-spoiled. One in particular caught my eye: a steep thread running down a narrow cleft in the cliff. Except for the very last few feet, the ice there looked very healthy.

What lured me back to the original ravine, I’ll never know. I keep wondering what else might be along that taller flank; doubtless the question will annoy me until I go back. In any case, I did turn back to the first ravine, following it downward, where I soon stumbled upon the ice I had first seen on my way in. I hadn’t planned to, but decided to don the gear and climb that fat line, taking the opportunity to climb one short pitch, then make my way back down, pack up, set the timer, and head out, reaching the car fourteen minutes later.