Continued from Part One Here:

Wallface: Adirondack Style Part 1

Harnesses around our waists, helmets on our heads, and hydration packs on our backs, we’re ready to ascend. Otto takes the first lead up a nice corner to a vegetated ledge. Adam and I follow on green and red ropes we affectionately name Bulbasaur and Charmander. Otto leads the second pitch and takes much longer than the first pitch. After a while, I yell up to him to ask how he’s doing. He yells back “Uhhhh yea, give me a bit I gotta figure out where the hell I’m supposed to go.” Pitches like these are why climbing in the Adirondacks is considered adventurous. The pitch isn’t incredibly vertical, but it is very confusing. There are scrubby plants everywhere, and the route wanders extensively. There is nothing to tell you where to go. No bolts that one can follow, nor any chalk on the route to show the path other climbers took. Eventually, Otto establishes a belay and Adam and I make our way up to him, also confused about what route to take.

We are now at the pitches of climbing that give the route its name. The Diagonal pitches. These pitches are easy, beautiful climbing and can be seen on the right. We were told these were the “money pitches” by a friend before embarking on our trip. Otto leads the 3rd pitch, a short ramp with some fun friction climbing in which one relies on the friction between the shoe rubber and the rock. Next pitch is mine. I am nervous but Otto turns to me and says “You got this, you have led harder”. Adam follows up also cheering me on. With this newfound confidence, I climb outward following the ramp up and up to an arete where I must turn the corner. Around that corner, I see the best view I have ever seen, so I pause and take it in. Unfortunately, I need to keep moving and cannot sit forever in awe, so I continue the climb and belay Otto and Adam up.

The next two pitches are harder than any of the previous ones being rated 5.8. Otto, being the most experienced, takes the lead once again. He breezes up the first pitch of stellar climbing, making committing moves right off the ledge. A fall here could have him falling onto the ledge then tumbling backward in a strange angle. The potential for injury is high but he is able to make the moves and finish the pitch. The 6th and last pitch is no joke either. This pitch is wet from the melted ice that was on it earlier in the day. Fun climbing in wet cracks leads us to the top of the wall! We had done it. We climbed the tallest cliff in New York! But we still had to get down.

We are setting up a rappel off the bolts at the top of the climb when we notice a huge knot in our rope. The amount of cursing decreases at the 10th minute of untangling. At this point, the level of frustration we are experiencing could not be expressed with words. We attempt to unknot this rope for 30 minutes and are almost at the breaking point when we are finally able to untangle the knot from the 140 meters of rope. Looking up from the rope we notice that the sun is about to set and it’s going to be getting dark soon. Adam laughs and says “whelp, I’m glad we brought our headlamps.” The sun sets and the temperatures drop. Unfortunately, my layers are not enough and I essentially shiver my way to the ground. Overall there are 5 rappels and it takes about 2 hours to rappel with the rope problems we had. We find our gear and hike out in the dark back to the car. A quarter of a mile from the car we see and hear stuff moving in the woods. We all stop and turn to look at each other. Adam asks “You guys think that’s a bear?”  “Nah it sounds a little too quiet to be a bear” I respond. The noise then gets louder and we literally run the remainder of the hike back to the car.

Overall we had an awesome climbing trip to Mt. Wallface. We got to the top, but climbing isn’t just about getting to the top. It’s about the shared experiences you have with your friends. It’s about how you climb.  Even if one doesn’t make it to the top, you can still have a great time if you put in a good effort and do it in style. It is important to recognize what first ascensionists have done as they decide the style for the area. Will climbers of the future continue to leave no trace or will ethics change and bolting of most routes in the Adirondacks become acceptable? Likely ethics will prevail but that can change with the influx of new climbers into the sport.

References:

“Climbing the Adirondacks – Ethics – Hamilton College.” Hamilton College. Hamilton College, n.d. Web. 019 Nov. 2016.

Lawyer, Jim, and Jeremy Haas. Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber’s Guide vol 1. Pompey, NY: Adirondack Rock, 2008. Print.

Lawyer, Jim, and Jeremy Haas. Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber’s Guide vol 2. Pompey, NY: Adirondack Rock, 2008. Print.

“Trap Dike (summer).” Mountain Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Nov. 2016.

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