Crane Breaks 300

This season, the route count on Crane has passed the 300 mark; one of my life-long, bucket-list items is now complete. My gratitude goes out to all the folks who spent so many of their recreational hours, days, and seasons searching, scrubbing, working, and sending up here.

Climber on Cliff

Heading up the final pitch of Full Recovery

As has been usual for a long while, the bulk of route development has been on the Southeast flank, particularly along the East Path corridor. What began with reasonable access to the Black Arches Wall has embraced several clusters of good climbing along the way: the Measles, Long Play, Diagonal Ramp, and TeePee Walls, the Belleview and Bella Vista Slabs, to name a few. It seems each year, we’ve discovered (or rediscovered) places burgeoning with possibility and begging to be climbed.

Climber on the Jammer Wall

Bruce sampling the buffet at the Jammer Wall

If you haven’t visited in a few years, the greatest activity has centered around the Upper Walls of the South Corner Cliffs, particularly the Jammer Wall. While it’s a steep uphill walk to get to it, it takes no longer than getting to the BAW, and once there, there’s a full day’s worth of climbing to be had.

Climbing Route Ledgehopper

Ledgehopper, a 5.5 PG multipitch adventure climb up Crane Mtn’s South Corner Cliffs

For those who are interested, several “multipitch” lines allow a long adventure, starting from the East Path and running all the way to the top of the South Corner, by linking different routes and pitches together. The current favorite starts on the first two pitches of Stairway to Heaven, walks right to the terrace at the base of the Provando Wall, climbs Fireworks, then finishes on Firecracker; four pitches of 5.7/7+ climbing, with a short optional penultimate 5.7 pitch of Provando for purists. There are also a few “original” lines that do the same, although in many cases these routes include parts or variations of other routes. One can start from the Measles Walls and climb Mike’s Mountaineering Route, picking and choosing among pitches from 5.1 to 5.7, climb Ledgehopper, a 5.5 PG running up the South Corner Cliffs, or tackle the much-harder Rise & Shine, which boasts 3 pitches of 5.9 and 2 of 5.8. On all these adventure-style routes, expect to find rough conditions along the way.

In the past two seasons, the route count hasn’t been the only thing increasing: the difficulty grade is gradually going up as well. When Michael Farnsworth* moved south, his contributions to Crane Mountain came to a regretful halt. Last year, Tom and I struggled to achieve what Mike had managed so naturally, working hard projects to completion. We focused on the uppermost of the Upper Walls, the Animal Charm Wall. The results: three routes that probably register in the low 5.11s, and there remain a few equally-challenging lines to be had up there. For those who fit the job description, Chesty PullerThe Slash, and The Clash are good testpieces.

Lucas on a lead attempt of Tom's Roof

Lucas on a lead attempt of Tom’s Roof

We’re not the only ones doing this. My good friend Lucas Czyz has gotten into projecting hard routes, or rather, has never thought of doing much else, since he began climbing just a few short years ago. This season, he has focused on the conveniently-locatedTom’s Roof project. This ceiling is part of the appropriately-named Land of Overhangs, sitting just off the East Path, quietly daring someone to pull it off since 2010. Lucas is closing in on a clean run – almost got it last weekend – and will hopefully have it in the hat before September.

Climber on The Underworld Roof

Buzz rehearses the Underworld Roof

More profound have been the routes turned in by Jim Lawyer and Dave Buzzelli this season. Jim and Buzz drew first blood on the Underworld, a cliff band lying beneath the BAW’s Isobuttress, and it has been a potent pint: to date, two 5.12s and a 5.13a grace that cliff. They’ve also paid their respects to a long-time project down there, and are getting close to sending The Underworld Roof. They expect it to register in the hard 5.12 range.

For those of us mortals, there are a lot more moderate climbs to choose from. The Upper Walls host a plethora of routes in the 5.7 to 5.10 range. Of particular note, Stand Your Ground is perhaps the best pitch of 5.7 on the mountain, Action Steps and Saratoga two of the better 5.8s here, and Jammer Direct and Rise & Shine dish up demanding, heady 5.9. And the list of excellent 5.10s has swollen more with each year: Animal Farm, Second Amendment, Second Helping,  Goosesteps, and Lawyers, Guns, & Money provide plenty of entertainment value to go along with the classics at the BAW.

Climber near the top of the route On the Fence

Enjoying the view near the top of On the Fence

Finally, Crane Mountain has some of the best easy climbing in the northeast. A thorough cleaning of Peter Whitmore’s On the Fence reduces the grade two notches, and provides one of the steepest 5.3s anywhere. Paul Cerone joined the FA clan this year, and has worked hard to develop a new area, boasting eight routes from 5.2 to 5.7, all named after Simpsons characters.  And don’t forget the Below-the-Measles Wall, where Mike Prince’s beginner routes are seeing a lot of traffic nowadays. If there are timid first-timers in your retinue, Crane is the place to go. Beautiful views, easy climbs, good times.

With the the 300+ milestone achieved, it is fitting that this year’s SAdkRF will be hosted by Mountainside Adventures, here in the shadow of Crane Mountain. The festival starts the Friday after Labor Day and runs through the weekend. Come on out and join the fun!

*As yet, Mike’s masterpiece, Four Ounces to Freedom, has not seen a second ascent, leaving a lot of room for doubt as to its real rating; I am anxious to see a hard climber step up to the plate on this one.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.