After a summer of zero climbing (but plenty of slacklining) in Washington, D.C., it was time to get back on some rock. Cam, Charles and I decided to check out Huckleberry Mountain because there were plenty of easier routes in the guidebook that wouldn't be too challenging for the first trip of the season, but there were also lots of harder routes.
I had been to the Crane Mountain trailhead twice before with Cam, so we both had a good idea of how to get to the cliffs on Huckleberry. After a two hour steep hike up towards the summit of Crane, following an ATV trail on private property and walking on abandoned roads from the old paint mines, we finally reached the cliff of interest. We put our bags down at Hard Guy Wall and racked up before taking the short hike down to the Great Dihedral Area,
The first climb of the day was Aunt Polly (5.6 PG 275' ***). Cam started off leading the first pitch and then I took the second. This area is obviously not climbed very often, as the cracks had lots of vegetation that needed to be cleaned to place protection.
|View of the dirty crack leading up to a slab section for P1|
P2 started off at the end of the slab section of P1 and then went around the overhang via a right-facing corner. Coming around the corner was the only sketchy (relatively) part of the climb, but there was plenty of good protection so no real worries.
After one 25m rappel and then down climbing the rest of the way, we went over to right and climbed Jealous Dogs (5.7 G 150'). The guidebook says that "the initial chimney is easier and better than it looks"; however, there was still plenty of groaning climbing through it. Cam took the lead on the route.
|Long legs make it tough to fit in the chimney. Luckily, I didn't have that problem.|
The guidebook shows that there is a lone pine tree to belay and rappel from, but that tree was broken. Cam belayed me off of an anchor that he built and I lead out on a traverse to the middle of Aunt Polly and repeated the previous down climb from there.
To the left of Hard Guy Wall, we set off to climb I'd Rather be in Iowa (5.7+ G 60' ***), which is noted to be one of the few sport climbing routes of this grade in the Adirondacks. It felt a bit sandbagged, but so did the rest of the climbs put up by Dave Furman ( FA July 1994). The anchor at the end of the climb looked to be in rough condition, so Cam replaced one of the original carabiners and chain links with one of the extras from our rack. Upon further inspection, it probably would have been fine to use the old carabiner, but better safe than sorry.
Unfortunately, we did not get any photos of the next route, Darmok (5.7+ G 100' ***). We spotted this handcrack walking to some of the other routes and decided to come back to climb it. There was a fixed anchor after the crack (25), which is the only clean part of the route, so I lead up to it and placed a backup hex before being lowered off of the anchor. The anchor didn't blow out, which is what I was worried about because of the old and weathered nylon webbing that was around the tree. Cam followed and then I lowered him off of the tree trunk.
The last route of the day was Barney Is the Antichrist (5.10c G 80' ****). This was by no means an easy climb, as Hobey Walker (FA July 25, 1993) notes that there are "some real moves". Cam took the lead and was able to climb between bolts, hang for a bit, climb some more, and repeat until around the fifth bolt, where he placed the old carabiner replaced on I'd Rather be in Iowa and left it as a bail biner. I "followed" to retrieve the rest of the quickdraws and then called it a day.
After packing up we headed back down toward the mining road, then up the ATV trail and eventually back at the same trail that we took back to the parking lot last time we climbed at Crane Mountain. Overall, it was a successful first trip of the season and I'm looking forward to heading back out in the coming weekends.