Monthly Archives: February 2014

Thin Ice On Tahawus

DP Tahawus

Dan Plumley contemplating thin ice on the headwall of Tahawus

THURSDAY, February 27, 2014 – Last Saturday was a delightfully warm winter day.  We decided it was time to photograph Tahawus, one of the alternative routes in Classic Adirondack ClimbsDan Plumley, a long-time local, agreed to join us.  After post-holing up Chapel Pond Gully through deep snow to reach the base of the climb, we found ice conditions to be thinner than expected. In typical conditions, the steep headwall at the base of the route can be climbed on its right side, via a short pillar. In leaner conditions one is forced to tiptoe up and left across a ramp to reach thicker ice above. Once over the headwall the climb is a casual romp with great views of Chapel Pass.

Despite conditions, Dan wanted to give it a shot on the sharp end. Several tied-off screws in the thin ice provided little in the way of protection but Dan persevered. We got the photos we came for and, at the top of the headwall, we all agreed it was time to head for the sunshine and fat ice on Roaring Brook Falls.

Multiplication Gully Photo Shoot

PN Multi

Phil Nathan nearing the top of Multiplication Gully

THURSDAY, February 27, 2014 – Last Thursday, Karen Stolz and Phil Nathan climbed Multiplication Gully, located in a deep cleft on High Falls Crag in Wilmington Notch. The climb was fat and soft as it often is toward the end of the season. R.L. Stolz took the hard way, breaking trail up the steep walk-off in deep snow while lugging cameras, ropes and assorted other gear. Once he was on top, a short rap led to a tiny perch overlooking the second pitch. From this vantage point he was able to photograph most of the upper climb.

One of the more popular ice climbs in its grade range, this route was an obvious choice for inclusion in Classic Adirondack Climbs. Parties ahead of and behind us had traveled long distances to sample the great ice the Adirondacks are known for. Answering their many inquiries about route suggestions reminded us why we embarked on this book project.

Vertical Perspectives Mountain Photography

TUESDAY, February 18, 2014 – You may be wondering about the Vertical Perspectives watermark on the photos posted on this site. We have been shooting climbing photos personally, and through Alpine Adventures, Inc., for more than 35 years and we have had photos published in a variety of contexts during that time. Our photos have been published in books, catalogs, posters, magazines and other media, and have served to illustrate the climbing and skiing programs we offer through Alpine Adventures, Inc..  Many of our other mountain photos, especially ones from trips abroad, appear only in privately published books.

When we decided to write Classic Adirondack Climbs last year, we also decided to dedicate more of our energy to mountain photography. Vertical Perspectives unites all of our photographic activities under a single brand, and will distinguish all of our work as we move forward with a variety of photographic projects. While climbing photography continues to be the focus of our efforts, we are shooting landscapes and other subjects as well. A dedicated Vertical Perspectives web site is under construction and will be launched in the near future.

Evening fog over Lower Cascade Lake

Evening fog over Lower Cascade Lake

Haggis & Cold Toast Photo Shoot

Karen leading the crux on thin ice

Karen leading the crux on thin ice

TUESDAY, February 18, 2014 – Karen Stolz and Nnamdi Davis tackled the Haggis & Cold Toast chimney in lower Chapel Pond Canyon on Saturday. R.L. Stolz rappelled in to photograph, while Karen and Nnamdi climbed the route in pleasant temperatures, but thin ice conditions. Although this climb can be done in one long pitch, we usually belay below the crux ice pillar. In winters with limited snow (such as this one) the route often requires mixed climbing and can be challenging to protect. Rock gear is essential.

Nnamdi in the upper chimney

Nnamdi in the upper chimney

This climb follows a narrow cleft in the rock, getting tighter and darker the higher you go, making well exposed photos tricky. And the tangle of cedar trees guarding the upper section demand roped, vertical bushwhacking to access a position to shoot from. All of the photos we have previously seen or taken of this climb have been disappointing. Not to be foiled again, R.L. decided going head to head with the serious shrubbery was the key to finally capturing the feel of this unique place.

Cascade Pass Photo Shoot

Sisters Right - Don

Don, looking characteristically casual

FRIDAY, February 14, 2014 – Don Mellor and Mike Bauman joined us for a photo shoot on Sisters Right yesterday morning. Although this is the shortest ice climb we will include in Classic Adirondack Climbs, it’s a justifiably popular route that follows a striking plumb-line for just over one hundred feet. The fact that it looms directly above the highway, beckoning every ice climber who drives through Cascade Pass, makes it all the more noteworthy. This climb belongs on every ice climber’s hit list.

Don, author of Blue Lines – An Adirondack Ice Climbing Guide, along with several editions of Climbing In The Adirondacks, regaled us with the colorful story culminating in the first ascent of this route by Bob Bushart, himself and Bill Simes in the early 1980’s. Starting with a fruitless search for a mythical climb and a startling plunge into cold water, events devolved through incontinence, musings on incest and eventually the first ascent of this climb. What a day! Don’s story reinforces the notion that most hardcore ice climbers navigate the world using a very unique compass. Lucky for us, it eventually pointed to this fine climb.

Mike, topping out

Mike, topping out

By Cascade Pass standards, the weather during the shoot was perfect; not too cold and windless. These ideal conditions allowed us to use our horizontal boom for part of the shoot. Using a remotely controlled camera with a wide angle lens, the boom positions the camera up to 20 feet out from the climb and results in a dramatic viewpoint. We have used this boom to photograph rock climbs since last summer, but winter conditions challenge the technology and the rigging, so opportunities are more limited on ice climbs. Suspending a small fortune in cameras and lenses from a pole in space is nerve-wracking and fraught with difficulties, especially when the equipment and the photographers are frozen. But, we get things dialed in better with each shoot, and the spectacular results make it worth the effort.

Two men and a boom babe!

Two men and a boom babe!

Of course, cutting edge camera gear is worthless without something to point it at. Don and Mike are both photogenic and very talented ice climbers–not to mention patient. These guys spent several hours hanging out on steep ice, waiting as we moved to capture different shots, all the while making it look effortless and fun. Thank you Don and Mike!

Upcoming Photo Shoots

WEDNESDAY, February 12, 2014 – Ice conditions are nearing their peak for the season and, with the recent snow, it finally looks like winter out there! We have been photographing ice routes all winter and we are pleased with the results. There are a few climbs on our ‘short list’ and we would like to arrange photo shoots for them before they bake out.

We are currently looking at two time periods, the first starting Wed, February 19 and ending Wed, February 26, 2014 and the second starting Tue, March 4 and ending Fri, March 7, 2014. These will be fully rigged photo shoots, each requiring most of a day. See our Participation page for more information.

Champlain Palisades Ice

Drop, Swim or Die

Neurosis – Depending upon conditions, the climb might include the Italian Traverse rather than the normal first pitch.

Forbidden Wall – We are particularly interested in shooting the upper section using a boom.

Champlain Palisades
We’d like to shoot Drop, Swim or Die and the Champlain Monster in the same day.

Coming soon……Central Pillar of Pitchoff

 If you are available and interested please contact us so we can tell you more about our plans.

What Is A ‘Classic’ Adirondack Climb?

WEDNESDAY, February 12, 2014 – There is very little consensus or objectivity surrounding the notion of a ‘classic’ climb, probably because climbers’ tastes vary widely, even over the course of their own climbing careers. For some climbers, difficulty trumps everything else and the classics of any time period, in their minds, consist of that day’s cutting edge accomplishments. For other climbers the classics follow the purest line, or maybe they are the boldest climbs, or even the ones that solve the last ‘great problem’ of the day. The list of criteria goes on, and on. All of these attributes, and many others, are certainly worthy of helping to make a climb a ‘classic’. But for us, a ‘classic’ climb is simply one that gets climbed regularly and appeals to a significant majority of people who climb it, regardless of why. The dependable presence of big smiles on faces at the top are the giveaway. Long or short, hard or easy, these are the routes people climb again and again, and they form the basis for the selection of routes in Classic Adirondack Climbs.

Beyond a reliable smile at the top, the routes we’ve selected are limited further to those that we think of as quintessentially ‘Adirondack’ in nature. Because the Adirondacks have a long history of traditional climbing, and the prevailing ethic continues to value this over sheer difficulty, the bulk of the routes we include are mostly, or completely, free of bolts. And, because the commitment of climbing bigger cliffs has long played a major role in Adirondack climbing, we have constrained our selection to multi-pitch climbs, with a few exceptions.

Nope, no classics down there!

Nope, no classics down there!

Additionally, for this volume of Classic Adirondack Climbs we are focusing on easy to moderate routes. There are certainly many classic Adirondack routes that are far more challenging than the ones we’ve chosen for this volume, but we wanted to start with the routes most experienced traditional climbers will feel comfortable tackling.

To sum up our route criteria for Classic Adirondack Climbs, the climbs are mostly traditionally protected, multi-pitch climbs, of easy to moderate difficulty, that will likely bring a smile to your face!

A New Kind Of Adirondack Climbing Guidebook

SATURDAY, February 8, 2014 – Classic Adirondack Climbs looks at climbing in the Adirondacks differently from existing rock, ice and slide climbing guidebooks. While the current books do an excellent job of comprehensively documenting climbing throughout the Adirondack Park, our approach focuses on a carefully chosen selection of outstanding routes.Classic Adirondack Climbs – A Different Viewpoint

The routes we’ve selected for this book reflect what we think of as quintessential Adirondack climbing. With a few exceptions, they feature multi-pitch traditional climbing in extraordinary mountain settings, along with challenge and risk levels that will be comfortable for most experienced traditional climbers. The easiest routes we describe are barely technical slides; the most difficult routes included are rated 5.9 rock or WI4 ice. Protection ratings are mostly G or PG, but we have included a few poorly-protected routes so you can avail yourself of the full Adirondack experience if you wish!

Because the routes we include are situated in such visually striking places we allow our photographs, more so than our words, to entice you to climb them. Most of the numerous photographs were made just for this book, many employing specialized rigging and equipment, resulting in unique perspectives and a fresh view of Adirondack climbing.

Our route knowledge is informed by our experience guiding these climbs for more than thirty years, and our route descriptions will point you in the right direction while still leaving plenty of room for adventure. In some cases we offer a story, from one of our many ascents, that provides better guidance than any description could.

We’ve included routes from the following locations:

Roadside Climbs (under 1 hour approach)
Chapel Pass (17 routes), Cascade Pass (6 routes), Pitchoff North Face (2 routes), Spruce Hill (3 routes), Wilmington Notch (2 routes), Deadwater (1 route),  Pokomoonshine (8 routes)

Remote Climbs (over 1 hour approach)
Champlain Palisades (2 routes), Roger’s Rock (3 routes), Avalanche Pass (2 routes), Gothics (3 routes), Wallface (1 route), Dix /Lower Wolfjaw (2 routes), Pharaoh Mountain(1 route)

Classic Adirondack Climbs – Another ViewpointAbout The Authors – R.L. & Karen Stolz
As founders of Alpine Adventures, Inc. in Keene, NY we have guided rock and ice climbing in the Adirondacks, and around the world, since 1985. Our extensive knowledge and intimate recollections of the routes in this book make us uniquely suited to the task of writing it. Vertical Perspectives Photography, our foray into serious mountain photography, has allowed us to focus on creating new and different photographs for this book, which is expected to be available in late 2014. A second volume of more difficult climbs may follow a year or so later.