Archive for March, 2013

Listen to Your Elders!

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

And we did just that. The snows of Monday kept us from making it to Lake Placid, so we headed to Burlington’s famous Outdoor Gear Exchange to see Fred Beckey’s presentation.

We arrived early enough to give two of my climbing buddies a chance to look around what may be the greatest climbing/skiing/outdoor gear store east of the Mississippi, Outdoor Gear Exchange.

As we walked in, our eyes fixed toward the climbing department, Robin nudged me and pointed to the bench we stood beside. There sat the man himself, reading books near the store entrance.

Posing with Fred Beckey at Outdoor Gear Exchange

We introduced ourselves, chatted a bit – then returned him to his peace and quiet, but not before posing with him on the bench.

Sloggin’ and Scopin’

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

With winter hanging “claws-teeth-and spines” full on, I surrendered to the obvious and pulled the ice gear out of storage. I was reluctant – downright resistant – to going back to any of the established stuff here at home (Crane), on Starbuck or Black, but Mike Prince cajoled me into a trip up Route 28 for a look-see of Ledge Mountain. Adirondack Rock mentions the cliffs there, but doesn’t give the area high ratings. However, it is pretty close to the road, and with no mention of ice rats scouring the place, there was a chance it might have something new to play on. We did eventually find some, but the real story lies in the what we didn’t do – couldn’t do, because we didn’t bring rock shoes…

Ice cliff on Ledge Mountain

The ice wall, about 1 hr east of Rt. 28.


Who is Fred Beckey?

Friday, March 15th, 2013

If you have any sense of climbing history, you recognize the name. For those who don’t know, Fred is the most productive ascentionist in North America. With hundreds of first ascents on mountains all over North America, I don’t think anyone even comes close.

He’s also the consummate climbing bum, the paragon of the species, if you will. He started climbing back in the days when it wasn’t just considered weird or insane, it just plain wasn’t considered. He lived in a car, in a tent, crashed on couches across America, did whatever it took to pursue his passion without distractions. He climbed through the eras when climbing came into social observation, first as abherrent behavior, then as fringe element, and finally as fad. He didn’t climb with sponsors supplying his every need, didn’t climb any way or any thing to satisfy the Facebook crowd.

He’s also 90 years old. And still climbing.

You have a chance to meet this guy. He will be chatting with climbers and signing book/s this Sunday at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley. He will be speaking at the Northwoods School in Lake Placid. And he will be speaking at Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington VT on the 21st.

Our paths have crossed a couple times. Fred is personable, gentle, and fascinating. You may not see thrilling videos of narrow escapes and wild climbing moves, but you will be caught up by the passion of our sport exemplified in Fred’s experiences. If you can make one of these events, don’t miss it.


Rockin’ at Little Falls

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Way too much snow still on Crane. Ra and I escaped to the southlands for a chance to touch real rock. Little Falls is slightly closer than the Gunks, so that was the place to go.


We met Bruce Monroe there, already tuggin’ a line on Jeff Loves Eileen. This would be Bruce’s first climbing since the onset of a hip injury way back in September. He did fine, experienced no real problems, and even tied into the sharp end and led the route!

We saw a few other familiar faces there as well: Justin, the man who organized the Southern Adirondack Festival back in 2011, and Mitch, who seems to get around a lot, at least where climbing is concerned. We also met a couple new folks, Kevin and JP, who had come along from Mexico with Mitch, and were sampling a bit of NY-style climbing.

With rain and continuous 40-degree temps in the forecast, I’m putting the ice tools away. Soon, the wire brushes will come out of storage and I’ll be poking around Crane’s cliffs, looking for that next great project…

Farewell Tour to the Waterfall Wall

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Nothing is writ in stone yet, but with the extended forecast calling for mid-40 temps and my work schedule, today’s morning jaunt to the Waterfall Wall may well be the last of this season.


I’ve been cussing this late snow-dump since it came, swamping paths and curtailing exploration as the season winds down. It has, however, provided a protective blanket that is preserving low-angle ice. The Waterfall Wall has decent ice…below a lot of snow. It’s more of a mountaineering route than ice route right now. I had to head to the Tempest variation in order to justify two tools, and there I found thoroughly sun-baked, rotten ice. I had to chop through 6 or 7 cm of ice to reach trustworthy material.


I did not bother going beyond the first pitch; it was totally swathed in snow. Both the uppermost pitch and Fifi’s are visible from the ridge, but I expect both are highly sun-baked. I wouldn’t recommend leading either one.

Hard telling how much longer it will last. I’m guessing it will be good through this weekend, but be out before the next.

I’ve been extremely lax about posting updates in the past two weeks. A lot went down, including a trip to Hoffman Notch with Jason Brechko, more FAs on Starbuck with the usual motley crew, and one more FA on Black Mountain with Todd Paris. I hope to post some “backlogs” on these.