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[TR] Adirondacks Ice 2/21-22- 2/21/2004

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Climb: Adirondacks Ice 2/21-22-


Date of Climb: 2/21/2004


Trip Report:

Prelude: Bancroft, Ontario Ice Febuary, 15

Scratch.....tap, tap, tap.... scratch...tap, tap, tap was the scope of my world. Thin ice and crampons hitting rock kept my attention entirely on climbing. Finally, about thirty feet above the ground the ice thickened enough to take my first screw. Although my first screw was a shorty, it inspired confidence. It was at this point I looked down at my belayer, who was wearing at the time my coveted and the only helmet between the two of us, and heard the words “Adirondacks ice”. After a couple of feet the ice thickened enough for hero sticks and I soon arrived at the belay and lowered off of Amazing Glaze 3+ in Bancroft, Ontario. Bancroft, Ontario is not a bad place to escape Toronto for a day of ice climbing if you happened to be in the area, but is by no means anything close to a destination. Back to the trip report. Upon reaching the ground a friendly Canadian congratulated me on my lead and starting talking about Adirondacks ice and how it is one of the best places that is closest to Toronto to climb in the winter. Hence the idea was conceived. East Coast ice...yeah!


Trip Report: Adirondacks Ice February, 21-22

It took forever for the week to pass and Friday to roll around. Five o’clock I found Elena and myself forcing our way to get through Toronto traffic. One thing I love about Canadian drivers is that they are fearless and have a lead foot. A couple hours of driving between 80-90mph found us at the border to the U.S. and the crux of the entire trip. And of course, since we were the only car at the border, we were requested to pull into immigration and customs. It took over an hour to explain to the overweight, idiot immigration official why an U.S. citizen from Washington State and a Spanish citizen from Madrid were coming into New York to climb ice in the Adirondacks. We finally took off again and pulled into Keene, New York around 12:30.


A semi-alpine start rolled around too quickly as we slept through the alarm and woke up in a rush to make it out the door. Our first objective was Chounard’s Gully at Chapel Pond. I had heard this was great classic at NEI 3 and a great climb in which to warm up. Additionally, this was Elena’s, who has only climbed ice for a little over a month, first multi-pitch climb. Surprisingly, we got to the base about 9:00 to find no one around. After racking up and explaining how double ropes work, I started up the first pitch. The crux of Chounard’s Gully is a 15-20 foot section of 80 degree ice that eases off to NEI 2. Another pitch and a half of NEI 2 followed and we soon topped out, rapped to the base and had lunch.


Since both Chounard’s Gully and Chounard’s Right start in the same place, we decided to next head up Chounard’s Right. Chounard’s Right is rated NEI 3+. The first pitch starts out with 50 meters of easy NEI 3 maybe 2+ to a tree belay. The second and crux pitch is 20 meters of 80 to 85 degree ice followed by another 35 meters of easy NEI 2. I thought the right hand version was a much better route. It is only slightly more sustained than Chounard’s Gully.


By the time we got down to the base it was around 3:30. We were both psyched to do more climbing so we got some quick beta from a couple of friendly climbers from New Jersey and headed off to Roaring Brook Falls which is NEI 3+. Roaring Brook Falls is supposed to be a high volume waterfall. On the approach my imagination was playing wicked tricks on me with thoughts of taking a nice cold shower. Nevertheless, my fears were calmed after catching a view of the route on the approach. Much to my surprise, I saw several slow parties on route as we approached the base. Oh well, I figured we might just have to climb in the dark a little. No big deal. The first pitch is the crux and starts out in a chimney with about 15-20 meters of 70-80 ice. Very fun pitch. A second short pitch of NEI 2 brought us to the final pitch. As everyone who climbs with me knows, I can be extremely impatient at times. Especially waiting around in the cold. Elena followed the first couple pitches quickly so after a quick break, I started up the last pitch and passed the follower of the last party on the route. The last pitch is about 55 meters of NEI 2+/3-. Very fun hero ice. Although the people on top were not to happy about me passing their party, it’ll teach them to be slow when it’s getting dark. A quick hike in the rapidly approaching darkness brought us back to our packs and then to the car.


Sunday started with the same intentions as Saturday, an alpine start. The crux for any climber attempting an alpine start has to be the alarm clock. You want to kill it when it goes off and you want to kill it when it doesn’t go off. Since the latter seemed to be the case, we quickly packed our gear and headed off to the Cliffhanger Cafe for a quick breakfast. Anyone that visits the area has to stop past the Cliffhanger Cafe. Its the best place to eat in town, has good food and strong coffee.


Although we wanted to climb a lot on both days, we decided on doing only one route on Sunday in order to get across the border at a civilized time. I had heard that Multiplication Gully was a great, classic at NEI 3+. The route was easy to find and we pulled into the road cut and start of the ten-minute approach. It was at this point we started to understand the meaning of East Coast ice climbing. It was snowing and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Quite frankly, the conditions were splendid. I love climbing in “exciting” conditions. Especially crag routes. It makes them much more interesting. Elena didn’t seem to mind so we hiked up the steep approach to the route. In the ten minutes it took us to get to the base, four cars appeared in the parking lot. I have to say, I’m glad the meaning of alpine starts differ between the coasts.


Multiplication Gully is a classic gully climb that sneaks tightly between two steep crags high above Route 86. The area really felt a lot like the Icicle in Leavenworth. When we got to the base the wind was blowing harder and it was snowing harder. There was also a lot of spindrift coming down the gully. There is nothing better than the feeling of spindrift washing over your body as your climbing. Hence, I started up the first pitch of NEI 2/3 for about 20 meters to the first belay. The second pitch was about 55 meters of NEI 3+ with easier sections at the beginning and end of the pitch. The route is interesting because it goes up a tight gully with big cliffs on either side that gives the climb an ominous feeling. The ice was brittle and beat out so most of the route was hooking. Two raps brought us down to the base and then quick hike back out to the car.


From my small experience, East Coast ice seems to be really fun. From my limited experience, most of the routes I saw were between two and four pitches. It seems that ice climbing in the East has become very popular as most of the climbs were really beaten out. I’ve heard this is a fat year for the ice, but it has been cold for a long time so the ice has not had a chance to heal from being hacked out from the crowds. Most of the NEI grades seemed soft compared to ice in Banff, but I’ve heard that ice is fat this year so it might not be typical of the grades. I’d like to jump on some of the other classics like Power Play and Big Brother. Both looked really good.



Gear Notes:

screws, tools, crampons, ropes, screamers, etc

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