Adirondack Ice Climbs

A little time warp back to January. Wanted to tell you about this earlier but we had to overcome some technology challenges…mountain climbing is easier than fighting computers!

Anyway, on January 15th, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at the 14th annual Adirondack International Mountainfest held in Keene Valley, New York. This event is put on by a really cool shop called The Mountaineer and numerous volunteers. It’s one of the oldest ice climbing fests in the country

I gave my presentation on Friday night at the Keene Central School to what looked like a packed house to me. But between you and me, I was really there to climb ice. This trip was only a couple weeks before my appointment with infamous Scottish ice gullies so I was keen to hone my skills with my good bud, and local demigod, Ian Osteyee who is the owner of Adirondack Mountain Guides.

Over the few days of the Mountainfest, we met a lot of great folks and climbed a number of classic ice routes at Poko-Moonshine. The most memorable was “Positive Thinking,” a 450-foot, 3-pitch route that is rated NEI 5 (translation: really hard). We also climbed “Neurosis to Hidden Pique” which is a bit taller but a tad easier (NEI 4+), and I lead the second pitch.

That same afternoon, we were able to climb a route which Ian said was a first. We named it, "Skeeter," since it consisted of only smears of ice, some a little rotton, over rock. On the rock sections, my crampons were making terrible scraping sounds as my front points "skeetered" out from under me, and it would smell like gun powder.

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Another day we visited the Chapel Pond area to sample the joys of thin ice. This, along with the previous days, was a good learning experience for me - climbing a half an inch of ice over rock. It's amazing how strong ice is. If you're delicate with your tool taps, even an inch is enough to hold you. Ian and I managed to climb “Whales In The Jungle,” Seldom Scene,” and “ Patey’s Gully,” all of which are normally rate NEI 3+ to 4 but were extra spicy due to lean conditions.

All of this was a perfect warm-up for our trip to Scotland a couple weeks later and our upcoming spring trip to Alaska to climb the Mooses Tooth. In short, I had a great trip to the Adirondaks and really appreciated the hospitality of the New Englanders!

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