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Adirondacks Lost and Found


The author establishing a new 'Dacks classic: Northern Revival (5.12c), Upper Washbowl, Keene Valley. [Photo] Dave Vuono

I proceed to clean off the first three pitches, placing four bolts where absolutely needed. I then discovered some of the most amazing rock climbing and exposure that I have ever experienced in the Northeast. The first pitch went at a bit scary 5.11a to a belay below the signature dihedral. Bouldery sequences reminiscent of sport climbing in Rumney led way to stemming and chimneying up the dihedral using four purple C3s and a gray C3 for protection. At times the climbing was runout, but never beyond reason. A final victory romp up an exposed 5.10a arete led to the top.

I called the route Northern Revival (5.12c). The new line did not only have stellar climbing, but it had stared climbers in the face for decades, since before I was even born.

The Future


The history of hard rock climbing in the 'Dacks is a young one compared to most other climbing areas around the country. Projects still exist, not just on rarely visited backcountry bluffs, but also on classic roadside crags.

I myself found one just last summer. Spider's Web is one of the park's most popular crags, not least because it contains one of the highest concentrations of hard crack climbs outside of Indian Creek. One day I noticed an incipient seam creeping up the middle of the crag. It had been spotted previously but, like Northern Revival, the line had been dismissed as too hard and difficult to protect. In early July, I decided to clean the seam and have a closer look for myself. I found some marginal gear placements. Immediately I became obsessed—so obsessed that my friend Jamie Hamilton, seeing its effect on me, began calling it the "demon route." I spent every weekend at The Web despite rain and typical muggy conditions, and in late October, after many days of effort and close to 20 falls, I sent Wheelin N' Dealin (5.13c R, 115').

This route is the hardest all-gear protected route in Adirondack State Park and exemplifies the potential that exists there. If a five-star, all-gear route can be found at the most popular cliff in a park that has more than 240 crags and 6 million acres, the potential for more such routes speaks for itself.

Because of its remote location and enormous size, the 'Dacks may never be as popular as Joshua Tree or Eldorado Canyon. But perhaps that's the charm of it. Its moon-like anorthosite will give many more generations of climbers genuine adventure, cliffs to explore, a place to get lost.

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Will Mayo

Great article and photos, Matt and Dave! For the record, Ian Boyer climbed the second ascent of The Fecalator, after Chris Thomas, perhaps the hardest traditional mixed route in North America (I did the third); and, Ian Boyer was also the first to red-point the route; I was the second. Cheers, Will

2010-08-13 01:14:54

O' the Adirondacks! How I love thee. Well done Matt and the new wave pioneers!

Cheers, Jim (Jamie) Cunningham Franconia, NH

2010-03-28 07:40:36

It’s been two decades since I climbed Zabba. I cleaned and worked on it for a couple of days. I eventually got all the moves on top rope but couldn’t do it from the ground without a fall. The weather turned bad and I had to leave. I told Don Mellor it was Adk 12.b. I was scared to rate it any harder that that in deference to the locals. It’s fun to see that it’s now 13.a with a run out crux, I suspect that quarter inch spinner is no longer there.

Good Article,

Chris Gill

2010-03-25 21:46:07
Will R

Great article Matt! Love the history of those hard routes!

2010-03-24 06:30:39
Jim Lawyer

Love the article Matt. I like that it provides perspective on the higher-end developments. In two years, since the guidebook was released, there are about 360 new routes, and that doesn't even scratch the surface. Regarding the guidebook size, yes, it's's a brick. But it IS lighter and smaller than the just-released New River guidebook :-)

2010-03-23 22:11:07
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