September and October climbing in New England can produce some of the best conditions of the year – no bugs, no humidity, and good temperature for friction. When November rolls around, we frequently have a dead zone where the ice has not yet formed and it’s a little cold for rock climbing. Though I and many others have ventured out on those colder days, I frequently question whether or not the climbing is worth the discomfort. This November, however, I have found the conditions fantastic! Many of the days at Rumney have been sunny and in the 40s, affording us the opportunity to climb in minimal gear and much less suffering.
Belaying in a short-sleeved shirt in November, and I’m not the only one!
Even with the warmer temps, I have found that a few factors help improve my enjoyment and productivity during the day: get a nice warm up, bring a range of cold weather clothes, and find a sunny crag.
Steve on the first pitch of the classic Rock du Jour
Especially in the cold, I have found that warming up helps to prevent injury and also gets me in a good mindset for the day. Sometimes I take a second lap on a route I have dialed; other times I go down an extra grade for the first route or two. In addition to feeling a little more in the groove, the sun has some time to warm up the rock.
Katie entering the crux of Sweet Polly Purebred
Eric heading for the “secret” hold on Underdog
While it has been warm enough some days to climb at the main cliff in a t-shirt, one does need to be prepared for colder temperatures. I have three staples in my late fall wardrobe: the Mammut Kala Patter Tech Jacket, an excellent mid-weight hooded layer that fits under my harness but stretches when I climb; the Mammut Pokiok jacket, a light softshell that blocks the wind and helps insulate me when I hike or climb (and I am amazed at how many layers I have fit underneath it and it still works great), and the Broad Peak Hooded Jacket, a recent addition to my wardrobe.
The Broad Peak is light and packs down to a small bundle, making it easy to fit into my backpack, and it is warm. It fits over my other layers when I belay, and keeps me from cooling down too much before getting back on the rock.
Art rockin’ the Broad Peak Hooded Jacket
Once the leaves fall from the trees, several Rumney crags get more sun than usual. As a result, the options for climbing on sunny days at Rumney increase.
Art starting up Sky Pilot
While 40s and 50s might sound cold, getting outside at a sunny crag allows you to leave the long johns at home. We have a limited number of these warm days left, so I plan to take advantage of them!
Hard to believe that there are so few cars in the small lot on a Friday.
Boasting 9,375 square miles, Adirondack State Park of New York is larger than the national parks of Yellow Stone, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, and Yosemite combined. For the climber that equals one thing…lots of potential. It’s no secret that there is lots of climbing within the park. Yet, it hasn’t taken off like Cathedral Ledge, Cannon, or the Gunks. Sure, as the sport grows so does the climbing in the “Dacks”; however, there is much, much more to the intrepid few who dare to venture into its wild reaches.
On my first trip to the Dacks, I was met by a local who had some words of advice for me. I was 19, about two weeks into my freshman year of college, and my trad-rack still glistened with the “fresh of the shelf” shine. No question, I was in for a surprise. “The Dacks will define what kind of climber you are,” I was told. “I hope you don’t mind a little lichen,” another stated. I retreated to my tent to await the morning when I would finally see what all the fuss was about.
Rain. “It always rains in the Dacks,” one of the local hard men proclaimed. Some of our group grabbed the canoes and fly rods and headed for the closest fishing spot. The rest of us headed up the mountain in search of something to climb. “Hey Alex, give this route a go, its 5.8 and the gear is great.” Happily I obliged and started up the route, plugging me brand new cams and stoppers as I went. My fellow climber was correct about one thing, the gear was good, but the climbing certainly felt harder than 5.8. I kept my mouth shut and climbed on through the driving rain. As I approached the top, my raincoat covered in green slimy lichen, I reached for the final hold crimped as hard as I could on the tripe covered quartz sloper-crimp. I moved my feet up, and slap. My hand popped, I hit my self square in the face, and I fell 12 or so feet safely onto the rope. Immediately I squirmed my way back to my high point and finished the move that I had previously fell on. I made my anchor and brought up my partner.
As Bill arrived to the cliffs edge, he stated, “good work, it was .10c.” “Welcome to the Dacks!”
From that day on I was both scared and enamored by the Adirondacks. I made a few trips, separated by months or even years. Throughout that time, I knew the land of plenty was right there a quick 30 min ferry ride across Lake Champlain.
Last week MMG Guides Derrek Anderson, Derek Doucet, Phil Tall-Hiker, and me made the ferry ride across the lake. In our sights was an area new to all of us, and we were looking forward to a weekend of on-sighting.
We were met with a stunning land scape. To our east, Mt. Mansfield and the Camels Hump. Our south, Poko-moonshine, Whiteface, and the Catskills, to our west, Mt. Marcy, and North… we couldn’t see, the cliff was in the way. Anyhow, the setting was stunning. On an approximate 3.5 miles of cliff ban sat 5 or 6 cathedral ledges worth of stone. Cracks, roofs, and perfectly dimpled slabs were there for the taking. Some of the best pitches I climbed this year were on this trip. Five star routes mostly within the 5.10 range. It was easy to see that the locals, truly loved this area. One even leaving a note offering a private tour of the area. (Sorry we couldn’t take you up on that!) Needless to say, the climbing was spectacular. The Adirondacks lived up to there potential, providing all the challenges they are known for. In the end, we were the intrepid few who ventured in, and were rewarded with an incredible experience.
I can hardly wait to go back.
Thank you Derrek, Derek, and Phil for a great time.