Leader: Jim Nupp
Co-leader: Zach Coburn
Participants: Ben Litchfield, Pat Murphy, Per Frost, Rick Laidlaw
The weekend began with some concern over the weather forecast for the Keene N.Y. area, which included temperatures in the 40s and rain. Four of us met at the Concord Park and Ride around noon and drove two vehicles to pick up the additional two guys in Lebanon. After about a three and a half hour drive from Concord, we arrived in Keene, N.Y. to the site of mostly bare ground and temps in the high 30s. We settled in at the Rock and River Lodge and went out for dinner in Keene Valley, about a 15-20 minute drive away.
Based on the weather forecast for Saturday and Ed Palen’s suggestion, we decided to top rope at Pitchoff Cliff in Cascade Pass, just north of Keene. Ed is the owner of the lodge and Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service. Pitchoff was about 65-70 feet high and grade 3-4 ice with a short approach from Rt. 73. After a full morning of laps on several ropes, the area became busy and we elected to get some lunch and check out climbs in the Chapel Pond area. Fortunately the rain held off until early afternoon with the warm temps. Chapel Pond is south of Keene Valley on Rt. 73 and about 20-25 minutes from Rock and River. There are an abundance of moderate to hard ice routes there.
After evaluating the weather forecast for Sunday, the ice conditions at Chapel Pond and the size of our group, we agreed to go back to Cascade Pass and try a multi-pitch route up 250 foot Cascade Falls: a grade 2 climb. Prior to the climb we discussed multi-pitch technique, ice screw placement and removal, “reading” the ice, rope management and anchor placement. Zach and Jim each led a group of two up two pitches before ice conditions and arrival of many other parties on the route dictated a double-rappel down a side gully of the Falls. After the two rappels we had some snacks and practiced single tool and no tool climbing on some low angle ice near the Falls. We all agreed, dinner that night at the Ausable Inn in Keene Valley was the best of our three nights out!
Monday weather sounded good, so everyone wanted to climb again before we headed home. Ed allowed us to store bags in the basement of the lodge and we headed to the Quarry area at Pitchoff Cliff to top rope some 75-85 foot grade 3 and 4 ice in the sun with temps only in the 20s. It was a great ending to a weekend with very challenging weather and ice conditions. The accommodations at Rock and Rover were very comfortable and the breakfast buffet was a big hit with everyone. Ed’s generous nature and his detailed knowledge of the climbs and the area amenities make the Rock and River the ideal location for climbing, hiking and cross country skiing in the Keene, New York area.