Monday, July 29, 2013

A Week in the DAKs

We took a week off and headed west to the Adirondacks recently. Fortunately, the weather changed from high heat, humidity and T-storms to quite pleasant summer temps.  We vowed to get some rest and relaxation in this time, instead of climbing every possible moment.  At this age resting is imperative, lest the body (and the mind) really fail you when you most need it on the rock.

The highlight of the climbing week was a repeat climb of "Hesitation", the classic central route on Upper Washbowl cliff.  A John Turner 5.8 with plenty of spice, a fantastic setting and gorgeous views of the Chapel Pond pass.

Hesitation is marked by the red line. P1 is the physical and technical crux,
 but P2 is the psychological crux
Annie at the belay of Pitch 1, under the double roofs
View of Chapel Pond from Pitch 1

Another view, slightly south shows the Chapel Pond slabs

Pitch 4 is great climbing and the top out with blueberries and view is hard to beat
 Some rain the next day provided a good excuse to rest our weary bodies and head to Lake Placid on our way to our next camping spot.  I was eager to try the Lake Placid microbrews and was rewarded with a glass of their stronger beers, the Peregrine Perch Imperial IPA.  Our waitress made a special request to the brewmaster when I ordered it, because they had ostensibly run out of this brew the day before.  I guess he had a small batch set aside and agreed to sell it to us. YUM!
Sporting my Heady Topper T-shirt with a Peregrine Perch

Our plan was to try out a cliff we had never visited before, so we camped in the lakes region to have quicker access.  The crux of the climbing at Azure Mountain is finding it!  We drove Blanche along the 17.5 mile road, 13 miles on gravel/dirt with some minor wash damage and fallen branches to navigate.  The guidebook claims a 15 minute approach to the Equinox Face, a section of cliff lower on the mountain.  We followed the "faint trail" through the dense woods until we could no longer decipher a trail.  Needless to say with the lateness of the day (we didn't get to the trailhead 'till 2:30) and the lack of any clues, we opted to hike out before we got really lost (there was a period of several minutes when we were unsure which way we had hiked in!)  I suppose Azure Mountain will need to wait for another day.

I spent time as a young kid and again in my early 20s visiting my godfather and backpacking in the Long Lake area.  I so much wanted to see Long Lake again so we headed back to the Keene Valley via routes 30, 28N and the Blue Ridge road just south of the high peaks.

Black fly bites on the right side of my neck
Note the swollen bite behind the left ear
 An afternoon at the Beer Walls (a climbing area in the Chapel Pond pass area) served us well to practice more crack climbing and unexpectedly run into friends Valerio and Toby from New Hampshire.  The black flies dined on my neck and ears at the end of the day, proving that the Adirondacks still win the prize for the full effect bug experience!

We invited Valerio and Toby to join us at the Barkeater Cliffs Friday, where we met up also with Louise and Oscar.  The hike in is mostly on a ski trail providing for side-by-side social hiking and conversation.  We were able to get on most of the classic moderates including Mr. Clean, Fun City, Big Bertha, Yakapodu, Dough Boy and more.  Valerio brought a nice digital camera with a telephoto lens and got some GREAT photos - I thank him for sharing them so they could be posted here!

During the trip we also revisited the arete climbs right on the pond (Tilman's and Shipton's) and when in the Keene Valley we typically end the day with a swim in the pond and usually a cold brew.  Life doesn't get much better.

Social hiking into Barkeater
A super fun route, Yakapodu, on the far right side of Barkeater. Annie is about 1/2 way up
 the climb - Valerio's telephoto lens oddly changes the perspective of a 100' route!
I've said it before but it does bear repeating: The Adirondacks are truly wild and beautiful.  The 46 High Peaks are rugged and majestic and I can no longer name the peaks as I see them from the flatlands.  Many of the highest peaks surround the Keene Valley where we tend to do the most climbing. I really ought to learn them so I know what I am looking at.  At least I can say what I am looking at is "spectacular" (or any other number of similar modifiers.)  Thanks DAKs, for treating us once again to an awesome visit!
I am not sure where he was standing when he took this photo.
If I were to guess I'd say that is the Wolfjaws just left of center?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

40 Days and 40 Nights

So here in New England (all of the East in fact) it seems the higher power has decided to start over (wipe us out).  It has been raining everyday for over 2 weeks, at least in my estimation.  I guess this is better than the 110 degree days in the southwest or the uncontrolled fires wreaking havoc and destruction.  We did have some flash flooding nearby and are lucky we dodged a bullet again.  Other survivors of Irene were not so fortunate - like an outmatched boxer knocked down again just when they got back up on their feet. Sucker punch???

Annie heading up at Deer Leap
Needless to say this weather makes climbing a special challenge, but we have managed to get out and find some dry routes.  Today, I was able to snap these photos of Annie on some dry rock at Deer Leap in Killington pass