Climbing Escapes…err…Training – Now I’m Ready for Illuminescence
The town of Keene Valley, New York—self-proclaimed to be the “home of the high peaks,” of the Adirondack Mountains– is a quiet one. All the same, rolling through it in the late hours of the evening, as I did on the night of the 5th, one can feel the town vibrating with an active, ‘outdoorsy ‘ pulse.
The main drag into town, route 73, is a hilly, windy thing, flanked on both sides by stunning granite cliffs and graced by a kaleidoscope of roadside lakes and rivers. Parking areas that serve as departure gates to such destinations as, “Giant Mountain,” “Roaring Brook Falls,” and, “The Beer Walls,” brim over with cars sporting Patagonia and 5.10 stickers and sometimes even holding sleepy climbers.
“Why pay for a hotel when I can just put a bed in my bed,” questions a wiry 30 year old climber, pointing to the back of his battered pick-up, “especially since out here no one cares how bad I smell?” He laughs and joins me for a late night swim in Chapel Pond. Most of the time, he explains, he works as an i-banker in New York. In Keene Valley, though, all one can see is his inner climbing bum. He likes it this way, he tells me.
Keene and the Adirondack Mountains at large are that kind of place, I think—It’s a spot where no matter who you are, I-banker or student, the mountains are what become important in your life. I’m here for two weeks to work and stay at the lovely, family-owned Roostercomb Inn. The Inn, a beautiful converted home, is located directly in the center of town and is furnished with handmade, Adirondack-style rustic goods that are crafted right on site. Marie and Steve Bowers, the owners, whose apartment is on the first floor of the stunning, purple home run Down to Earth Therapeutic Massage and Bald Mountain Rustic Furniture out of the property. As a recently opened haven for hikers and outdoor folks in general, the reasonable rates and great company that the Inn serves up definitely live up to its slogan, “way more fun than it used to be!”
This trip for me is a combination climbing and trail running adventure and, boy, have I been getting out! A longstanding tradition in the Adirondack hiking community is climbing all 46 peaks above 4000ft in elevation, and there is a certain charm in summiting one of these,“46er,” peaks. On this trip I’ve been lucky enough to take runs up Gothics, Armstrong, Wolfjaw, Big Slide, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, Marcy, Table Top, Phelps, Porter, and Cascade mountains, all of which make the cut to be included in the magical 46. Unlike my knees and quads, my Montrail Hardrock trail runners and Smartwool Ph.D. wool socks haven’t blinked an eye at these adventures, consistently delivering support, cushioning, and speed.
In the climbing department, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time at Pitchoff Chimney Cliffs near Keene, NY, where I’ve been all smiles while sending classics like Raging Raven 5.11b, Flying Squirrels 5.11b, and Hidden Constellation 5.11d. Three nighttime bouldering sessions at MacKenzie Pond Boulders near Saranac Lake, NY got Star Chores V8, and Shut-Up Machine V9 sent and an afternoon at The King Wall above Chapel Pond saw an ascent of the 4 pitch Kingdom Come to Clipping in Space Link-Up 5.12a. Finally in the swing of hard Adirondack climbing, with its adventurous approaches, finicky protection, and big exposure,
I think I’m ready to get on my project, Illuminescence 5.13d. It’s a two pitch, 260 ft adventure on Moss Cliff near Lake Placid, NY, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’ll be sure to keep you posted. In the mean time, happy climbing!