2015 Climbing Year in Review

Ice on the Early Side – Ditto for Late

There is little to tell about ice climbing in the January – March side of 2015. For various reasons, I would only climb ice a total of 11 times, so I wasn’t in on a lot of the action. I was able to direct many folks to the pleasantries of the Waterfall Wall, Fifi’s Frozen Fingers, and Providence, so Crane didn’t get left out in the cold (pun intended)

Lukasz on an early top-rope run of his project Polish Roast, which he led successfully early in 2015. Congratulations!

Lukasz on an early top-rope run of his project Polish Roast, which he led successfully early in 2015. Congratulations!

The lone bright light in an otherwise dim FA season is Lucas Czyz’ send of his longtime project, Polish Roast. At M7, it is one of the more difficult mixed routes in the Southern Adirondacks.

The Big Split as Lukasz approaches the finish line of Polish Roast. The hardest climbing lies just before reaching the ice.

The Big Split as Lukasz approaches the finish line of Polish Roast. The hardest climbing lies just before reaching the ice.

The Late-Year Ice season did not exist for 2015. Warm temperatures remained well after Christmas, with never a long-enough cold spell to form sane quantities of ice.

The Waterfall Wall as it looked on New Year's Day, never having iced up enough in December to climb.

The Waterfall Wall as it looked on New Year’s Day, never having iced up enough in December to climb.

Rock Season

What began inauspiciously lasted far longer than anyone expected, indeed, longer than most had the persistence to see through. Considering its late, slow, and miserable start, the extended dry spell we enjoyed, and the prolonged season, came as welcome change.

March proved impossible to use for rock climbing here. April would begrudgingly allow some modicum of the sport, although the early outings barely fit the definition. Tom and I slogged up to the Jammer Wall for our first go. As with last year, this area would be our most-frequented climbing destination for the season. And not us only: there were several days that were actually crowded here. Together with the Second Amendment Wall, this would be the prime destination for most Crane Mountain rock climbers in 2015.

After the first outing, quite a few cold, wet days were spent alone developing my first project of the year, Cabin Fever, a dubious route on the Upper Measles Wall. I would solo it for the first ascent half way through the month.

Paul on the FA of Bart, Springfield Slab, Crane Mountain

Paul on the FA of Bart, Springfield Slab, Crane Mountain

Sending season would not really commence in earnest until well into May, and even then, the first ascents were primarily easy routes. The main protagonists would be Paul Cerone and myself; snagging low-hanging fruit at the Springfield Cliff (originally the Little Middle Slab). We took to naming each route there after a Simpsons character, eventually accumulating nine or ten routes on that slab.

Steve O on the sharp end of De-Hedral, 5.8

Steve O on the sharp end of De-Hedral, 5.8

The Waterfall Wall would draw my attention, mainly because without a car, I had to choose between waiting for a ride or walking, and walking to the Waterfall Wall was the easiest and earliest option. I would eventually coax Tom out there to send the lead-worthy, fixed-gear rendition of I’ll Fly Away, a route he thought very good; good enough to bring him back there looking for more.

Jody heads up Waterfall Center, with The Tempest headwall crack looming above her.

Jody heads up Waterfall Center, with The Tempest headwall crack looming above her.

We (or I alone) would eventually put up several more lines there: The Verge, The Verge Inn, De-Hedral, Last Call, Block Aid, Objet d’Irt, Tumbling Dice, Arbor Eat’Em, and Keymaster. Robin made a cameo with me one day to extend the line of Learning to Fly as well, and Bruce would come along with me for a finally-successful attempt at rock climbing the entire line of slabs and cliffs usually done during the winter, to create All Wet.

Bruce partway up the successful complete rock climb of the Waterfall Wall.

Bruce partway up the successful complete rock climb of the Waterfall Wall.

Tom tidies up on a tricky lead along the useless seam on the opening moves of one of the Easternmost's classic routes.

Tom tidies up on a tricky lead along the useless seam on the opening moves of one of the Easternmost’s classic routes.

Tom and I would make one sojourn to the remote crag I call the Easternmost, where we would climb two established routes that, so far as I know, have not seen repeat ascents since 2000. While both of the routes we did are in desperate need of cleaning, we both felt they are worthy lines to pursue. Crowds are unlikely there, ever, given its 1 1/2 hour approach and routes that require serious scrubbage.

Although I ceased to work on projects at the Measles Walls, Kirby and his associates gravitated to the large, right-running eyebrow overhang on the left side of the UMW, and spent the entire season trying to solve its extended difficulties. Kirby worked out the initial 5.11b move to get started on the line, the 5.12 moves just past the crack of Roped Bouldering, and managed to get within stabbing distance of the footholds along Short Person’s Disease, but couldn’t quite pull it off before the leaves fell and dampness set in, preventing cool-weather assaults. He and his partners did take a look at two other potential lines, and ended up sending both the far left and far right ends of the wall that lies below the campsite. The shorter of the two, Rocksport 5.10, lies on the left side and requires a no-hands leftward shift to pass the crux; at 5.11a it’s one of the nicer and more difficult routes at the crag. The right side is troublesome: tentatively rated 5.10b, Kirby’s Nine works rightward on small, flexing crimps to gain the edge and thence work up to a final 5.10a top-out. The climbing is entirely on slightly past-vertical rock, and unfortunately some of the holds and clipping stances are dubious.

Kirby shows us how it's done.

Kirby shows us how it’s done.

 

Kirby would also play a role in the sending of a long-term project along the East Path, Tom’s Roof. Lukasz Czyz had his heart set on attempting the line, so one day a bunch of us headed out there to top-rope the line. Kirby – in classic Kirby style – fell once, then breezed through the climb. Inspired, Lukasz would eventually manage the feat on lead later this summer.

Lukasz on the long-awaited send of Tom's Roof

Lukasz on the long-awaited send of Tom’s Roof

Mike Prince would culminate a prolonged cleaning spell with his most difficult first ascent to date: First Amendment, at 5.10a, is one to be proud of. That same area would also deal Paul Cerone’s hardest first ascent of the season, Saratoga, an excellent, pumpy 5.8; and I would – with Tom’s help, first on lead, then following – add a decent 5.10b, Second Helping, and a lengthy variation of it, probably also 5.10b, Second Chance.

Dave - "Buzz" - decodes the secrets of the Underworld Roof. A lead send awaits...

Dave – “Buzz” – decodes the secrets of the Underworld Roof. A lead send awaits…

Jim Lawyer and Dave Buzzelli entered the development storm on Crane with a bang, traipsing down to the Underworld cliff and establishing several hard sport lines, including Crane’s first 5.13, The Drop. With two more lines installed down there, both 5.12, and a successful top-rope of Underworld Roof, they’ve produced a bevy of truly hard climbs to go along with the hitherto lonely 5.12, Four Ounces to Freedom. In addition to the Underworld efforts, Jim also established a 5.12, SMASH!, at the Animal Charm Wall.

Tom leading Crackerbox Palace at Gull Pond Cliff.

Tom leading Crackerbox Palace at Gull Pond Cliff.

The season would go on, and on, and on. We would use some of the extra time to visit places on our tick-lists, places we’d either visited in the past or wanted to see for the first time. Tom and I had made an attempt to climb at Gull Pond Cliff this summer, an attempt that was turned away by the worst swarms of mosquitoes we’ve ever seen; with the safely-cold nights of November, we managed to get some climbing in. Not as much as we would’ve liked: the cliffs here don’t get sunshine until late in the morning, so they remain cold until then; and the short days don’t offer much time afterward.

Garth leads Long Play - in December!

Garth leads Long Play – in December!

November is usually the wrap-up, but this year we would put up about one new route a week, including a couple at the Beaverview, one of which, Leaver Your Beaver, clocks in at 3 pitches. December would handle the finishing work, almost all of it. We segued into the month continuing at the Beaverview, then I plugged a direct finish to Scout About at the Waterfall Wall, and finally dashed up to the Upper Walls for two on-sight sends on the extreme right end of the Blueberry Ledge Wall the day after Christmas.

Of all the routes done on Crane this year, the standouts would have to be Jim and Dave’s lines at the Underworld. Upping the Crane scale to 5.13 and establishing a day’s worth of 5.12s to tackle, the hard-climbing crowd now has a few targets to draw them here. Kudos also go out to Paul Cerone and Mike Prince for putting up two excellent routes on the Upper Walls, First Amendment and Saratoga.

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