Southern Adirondack Rockclimbers’ Festival 2012

Rocky points the way to the 2012 SAdkRF

HERE is the lowdown on what went down during this year’s Southern Adirondack Rockclimbers’ Festival. Those of you who missed it, missed a great time, fantastic climbing, and an incredible storm...


Mike Prince leads up Hydrophobia

Seems familiar: the forecast molted from good to bad as the week preceding SAdkRf 2012 dwindled. By Thursday, NOAA was predicting a sort of second-cousin to the Apocalypse, weatherwise: damaging winds, lightning, hail, tornadoes, the works; all to come some time Saturday. I knew this would cut attendance substantially, but with the most dire effects slated for mid-afternoon, hoped enough stalwarts would brave the day. I wasn’t disappointed: by Friday evening, a dozen courageous souls sat around Mountainside Adventure’s campfire, roasting kielbasy and toasting marshmallows, discussing plans for the next morning.

Mike, this time on his route, Halotosis

Many of us had spent at least part of the day climbing already. Jeff, finishing off a week’s climbing vacation, went out with Lukasz, helping with final preparations and climbing Parallel Passage and Plumb Line. Mike came early; along with supplies to build the fire ring; we managed that task until Garth and Ryan arrived; then spent awhile at the Measles Walls, climbing routes on the Under, Upper, and Top’o’ Measles Walls (Garth even soloed a short FA on the slab above these). Brian and Taylor swung by around 4pm, I pointed them upward just before heading to the mountain myself. I know there were more climbers up there.

Garth belays at the Measles Walls

While we rested from our toils and recreation, we discussed Saturday’s itinerary. With that forecast looming, I recommended climbing in the Black Arches Wall area of Crane Mountain. The original plan to head for Shanty didn’t seem wise, considering how prone that region is to lightning, likewise with most of the southern flank of Crane. But just north of the South Corner, signs of lightning were few, and a couple overhangs might afford shelter through a downpour. Also, that side of the mountain is generally in the lee of prevailing winds.


The gang chows down at SRCFC’s homestyle breakfast

Early the next morning, climbers began filtering in to the breakfast sponsored by SRCFC. A quick registration, schwag bag dipping, and then everyone headed to the table. Eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, hash browns, OJ, and coffee provided the climbing fuel, and a tightening noose of nasty weather fanned the flame for haste. There was plenty casual banter, but each party added their share, filled their tanks, and then trickled outward; by 9am, the last straggler was wolfing down a plateful.

Jeremy Haas on Long Play 

I headed out toward the Black Arches Wall around 10:30. The Measles Walls were silent, no one plied the terrain of Stairway to Heaven; but as I reached Oddy’s, I began to encounter climbing clusters. Erika Schielke was shredding her digits as I hailed the troupe, and a small queue awaited their turn. At the nearby Long Play Wall, its eponymous route was already rigged. Willies’s Danish Prince saw some action, and a few people were heading toward the Diagonal Ramp Wall. After climbing a few feet up Long Play, I descended to join that migration. There, Lukasz was following Keith up Val’s send, Kill It Before It Spreads, while Jeremy and Erika tackled Norman’s Crack of Joy.

Keith on Oddy’s

Erika and Jeremy starting Norman’s Crack of Joy 

After watching the antics there for awhile, Jeff and I headed to the Isobuttress. Three years ago, Jeff had top-roped the first pitch of E-Stim, now he wanted to lead it. He tied in and quickly dispatched the first pitch, then onsighted the second just as easily. We rested at the top, enjoying a bird’s eye view of the action around us. Climbers were top-roping Long Play still, and farther in the distance, Bodhi Tree was getting a lot of attention. The wind was fierce but not quite dangerously so yet. The sky was a theater of clouds frantically sailing by, but still no rain. Despite the ominous forecast, all around us were signs that the festival was a success.

Keith Meister works the 5.10a start to Recuperation Boulevard while Lukasz spots.

Keith, farther along, on the sharp end of the same route

Lukasz cleans up

We rappelled the route to find a crowd working some of the other lines on the wall. After watching their antics awhile, we walked back to the TeePee Wall, where Jeff led up Yodellaybackloon. This short line offers a moderate 5.6 layback pitch as an alternative means of reaching the Oddy’s anchor, but it does require big cams (e.g. a #5 C4) to protect.


Next door, Oddy’s was getting a lot of company. The rope set on it saw frequent action, and Mitch Hoffman even pulled it aside for an onsight lead, an uncommon feat on this thin crack testpiece.

Mitch Hoffman sends Oddy’s Crack of Horror
lies in the corner to his right.

Jeff and I were pretty tapped out after Yodel, opting to put away the rack and simply TR a thing or two between lengthening bouts of spectating.
People were having a good time,it looked like everyone was climbing a lot. Many were beginning to look a bit tired; I was well past the “looking” stage. So when the first peal of thunder rumbled from the sky, I was more than ready to call it a day and head homeward. From the BAW, one can normally sneak another half hour of climbing in after the first sign of thunder and still get out ahead of the rain, but this storm wasn’t normal. We tarried only a couple minutes before beginning to walk, yet in a few more it was obvious this storm was racing toward us like a runaway train. My pace quickened from casual saunter to a harried jog as that predicted apocalypse trundled our way.
I expected a dry escape, but before reaching the Measles Walls, the rain hit. Soon, we were drenched. And lightning! Several strikes were frighteningly close: I had judged the BAW a relatively safe place to be, but hadn’t considerred the intervening terrain, which comes around the south corner and runs pretty high along a ridge below all those lightning-scarred trees around the Belleview. We found ourselves jumping as several bolts pounded groundward less than a thousand feet away. Far too close for comfort, especially when running with a packful of metal through a trail-turned-torrent.
All turned out well; we made it to the shelter of vehicles after the worst of the storm had passed overhead. We slogged into the house, completely drenched, gathered a motley assortment of clothes to replace our wet garb, then sat down to relax awhile, eating cold leftovers from breakfast: the power was out.
Soon, a ragtag assemblage of bedraggled climbers were popping in to say goodbye, the deluge precipitated an exodus of mass proportions from the Festival. Jeff, having tucked over a week into his climbing vacation, elected to head home also. It wasn’t elating to see the party crumble so suddenly, but it wasn’t surprising, either. People were soaked, their gear was soaked, doubtless a few tents were soaked from the horizontal rainfall. It was great to have so many people willing to come despite the forecast.



Entry Fee to Shanty Cliff: wet, cold feet!

Sunday’s forecast was much better, so while the sky wasn’t permablue the next morning, it wasn’t rainy either. The remaining crew wound their way toward Shanty Cliff. Fortunately, the rain hadn’t raised the river appreciably, though it made for a brisk crossing. After unofficially corralling two unsuspecting climbers who happened to be heading up there, a baker’s dozen made up the Festival crowd that day.

The Festival swings into action at Shanty Cliff


Most of us headed directly for the large corner, climbing routes between Soweto and Blue Toes for most of the day. No big lead falls to commemorate Jamie McNeill’s escapade at the last Festival held here, but a few interesting slips and skitters occurred, mostly on TRs, so minimal damage was done.

Lukasz sets pro at the crux of Shantytown 

Garth heads up Rocinha

 After covering that area as thoroughly as our talents allowed, we moved back down to the Shantytown region, where Lukasz took the sharp end up to the anchors for us. We were able to play on that, its harder neighbor to the right, and a variation splitting the two before calling it a day. Everyone else had already passed by us, trickling downward in the fashion that all Festival Sundays share. All were happy with the day, tired from the weekend.

Unsuspecting affiliate to the 2012 Festival

…and her equally unsuspecting partner

We joined the final exodus deep into the afternoon, content that SAdkRF 2012 was, in spite of the weather, a great success.

Bit more belaying than climbing toward the end…

…but Lukasz had enough energy to hold the sharp end together….

…and Ryan enough stamina to square up against Hooverville

A big shout of Thanks to all who helped make this year’s festival so great:

  • Calvin Landrus of SRCFC for that spectacular breakfast
  • Brian Nasser of EMS for standing behind the Festival 100%
  • Glen Griscom of CAMP for the incredible swag and prizes (whoa, those Photons look sweet!)
  • ClifBar for their tasty, healthy, and satisfying donation to the Festival’s hungry horde
  • Valerie Bachinsky for her treasure trove of prize donations
  • Terry and her Climb Addict lineup of Climber-oriented T-Shirts
  • Bruce Monroe for talking the Festival up around the country
  • Mike Prince for donating bricks, sweat, and toil to make the fireplace
  • Lukasz Czyz, Jeff Peck, Tom Lane, and a host of other friends who cleaned routes, prepped paths, and made the way possible
  • And Robin, for putting up with a houseful of wet, grimy climbers, a week full of frenzy, and a life full of all the frustrations living with a climber entails.

A very tired pair of climbers at the end of Day Three

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