Monday, November 5, 2012

11.4.2012 Long Pond Cliffs

The bumpy 6.8 mile drive down a 4WD road brought us to the hunter occupied trailhead for Long Pond.  We did not expect to pass any cars on this road, but we had to pull over a handful of times to let a pickup truck squeeze through.  Snow started to fall as we parked the car away on the side of the road and out of the way of others.  Cam and Kyle came along on this trip, but we also had another climber with us.  Instead of climbing on the sandstone towers in his home country of the Czech Republic, Robert took a break from his studies to get a glimpse of Adirondack rock.

Stop at an outhouse along the drive.
We arrived at a very nice campsite after a three mile hike on the red-blazed foot trail.  This was the second site that we passed, the first one did not have a boat pulled up on shore.  After setting up the tent, cooking some food, and preparing packs for tomorrow's climb, we gathered wood and warmed up next to the fire.

Tent site lit up by headlamp.
Warming up by the fire.
Cam, Kyle, and I slept in the tent while Robert opted to sleep outside.  This ended up being much more comfortable in the tent compared to the last trip when four people slept in the tent.  I walked down to the shore with Cam to check out the boat condition and patch up any holes.  We pulled off a fair amount of Gorilla tape that someone had previously repaired the boat with and layered on some new tape.  In the morning we inspected the boat once more and made a few more patches.  

First view of the cliffs in the morning.
Duct tape patching the front end of the boat.
Armed with one small plastic paddle that was found near the boat, a shovel secured to part of a trekking pole with webbing, and a cooking pan used to bail water, we set off to paddle across the pond.  I paddled with the shovel in the front, Cam paddled in the back, Robert kept the packs dry, and Kyle bailed water out of the boat.  We made it to the other side of the pond without any major complications, but it was still bitter cold.

All ready to paddle across the pond.
After a 10 minute hike directly toward the cliffs, we reached the base of Way of the Peckerheads.  Cam led one rope team with Robert and I led with Kyle afterwards.  We didn't exactly follow the route in the book, but the line still ended at the top.  The guidebook shows that this route has two pitches, but we linked it to be one pitch about 55 meters long.

Cam racking up for the Way of the Peckerheads variation.

Kyle following on WotP.
 Cam and Robert waited at the top until Kyle and I finished the route so we could use both ropes to do a single rappel to the base.  At this point we could really see snow dumping on the nearby mountains.  Our hands and feet were all frozen and numb, not the best combination for climbing.  We debated whether or not to just head back to camp, warm up next to a fire, and head back to the car.  Since we already made the drive, hike, and paddle out the the cliffs, Cam decided to take the lead on Too Close for Comfort.  Meanwhile, Kyle and I shivered at the base and Robert struggled to stay warm at the belay.  Robert warmed up a bit when he followed until having difficulty on the hand crack at the top of the pitch.  There aren't many cracks on the sandstone towers, so the technique was difficult to master with freezing cold hands.

Throwing ropes for the rappel.
Bolted rappel anchors.
Body temperature began to rise during the hike back to the pond, especially after taking off climbing shoes and putting on hiking boots.  The boat hadn't floated away, which was a very good sign.  Swimming in the cold water with gear and heavy clothes would not have ended very well.  We started a fire and cooked all of the remaining food immediately after returning to the camp site.

Snow in the distance.
Kyle paddling across in the back.
Warming up back at the site.
Overall, this was still the typical adventurous Adirondack climbing trip; however, it would have been much better if it was about 15 degrees warmer and sunny.  The hike out went by quickly as we hurried back to make the very important stop at a general store for food and drink.  The cliffs at Long Pond definitely have a lot of new route potential and deserve at least one full day of climbing in good weather conditions.  

Hiking out on the wet trail.
USGS benchmark on a random rock along the trail.

Bridge across a beaver dam.
Hunting camps along the trail close to the end of the road.

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