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High Peaks

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High Peaks 

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Location: 44.17141, -74.09871 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 160,342
Administrators: Jim Lawyer, Chris Duca, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Rafiki on Nov 6, 2007
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The High Peaks Wilderness is home to the highest mountains in New York State. This pristine wilderness area is comprised of over 300,000 acres. The landscapes of the High Peaks include rocky summits, alpine lakes, meadows, countless streams and some of the densest vegetation you could ever imagine. For these reasons, the High Peaks is the epicenter of outdoor recreation in New York State, with backpacking being the most popular. Other outdoor pursuits include backcountry skiing, ice/rock climbing and trail running.

Climbing in the High Peaks is very diverse and can range from a trailside boulder to an alpine ascent of Gothics 1100ft North Face. The rock type of the area is Anorthosite, which is very much like granite. In stark contrast to the Gunks (NY's most popular climbing area), approaches in the High Peaks are measured in miles rather than minutes and often require nasty bushwhacks. Cell phone coverage is severely limited and emergency personal might take quite some time to reach you if need be. The trails may be crowded on the weekends, but you will most likely be alone during your climb. Some of the routes may have seen only a few ascents, so loose rock and lichen are a possibility. The point of these warnings are not to scare you away, but to make you aware the High Peaks is not your ordinary crag, it is a genuine backcountry area. By having a long approach, incredible views and superb climbing, routes in the High Peaks offer a "complete", almost magical climbing experience. Bring self sufficiency and an adventurous attitude!

Throughout the climbing history of the High Peaks, routes have been vaguely and sparsely documented. Some routes have been described in journals as early as the late 1800s. Don Mellor's modern guide purposely left out many details of backcountry routes to maintain a adventurous and somewhat mysterious atmosphere. This attitude may change with the printing of the new guide by Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas . The possibility of over-crowded climbing in the High Peaks is unlikely though considering the lengthy approaches and other variables. By adding this area to MountainProject, I hope to inspire the weekend warrior to try a climb off the beaten path. Those seeking pure adventure can still study photographs and choose their own adventure.

Over the past few years, the High Peaks has seen a significant increase in foot traffic, most notably backpackers. It is very important that climbers follow LNT principals and do everything within our power to limit our environmental impact. The High Peaks area has filled me with the greatest sense of freedom I've ever felt. By following current NYSDEC regulations, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy this freedom in a beautiful backcountry setting. The regulations are more than fair and follow a "no bullshit" attitude.
You can find current regulations at
Bear canisters are now mandatory if you're traveling in the High Peaks!

Getting There 

The High Peaks are located in Essex County west of Keene Valley. There are five different trailheads for the area, each with their own regulations. They are: The Garden, Upper Works, ADk Loj, Ausable Club and Elk Lake. The most popular trailhead is The Garden off of 73 in Keene Valley, which fills up quickly on summer weekends. A shuttle surface may be available from Marcy Field if this is the case. What trailhead you should park at depends on your objective, get yourself a High Peaks map.

Climbing Season

25 Total Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',12],['2 Stars',6],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for High Peaks:
The Trap Dike(winter)   WI2 Easy Snow     Ice, Snow, 2 pitches, 2000'   Mt. Colden
Avalanche Mountain Gully   WI4-     Chipped, Ice, Alpine, 2 pitches, 175'   Avalanche Mountain
Eagle Slide   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, Alpine, 1300'   Giant Mountain
Trap Dike (summer)   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, 2000'   Mt. Colden
Gothics Arch   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Trad, 7 pitches, 800'   Gothics
The Hole, Lizard Head Variation   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 50'   Wright Peak
Weissner Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 90'   Noonmark Mountain
The Diagonal   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 7 pitches, 860'   Wallface
Freudian Slip   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport, 3 pitches, 400'   Big Slide Mtn.
Free Ride   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 8 pitches, 735'   Wallface
Browse More Classics in High Peaks

Featured Route For High Peaks
The obvious crack with the lag bolt.  The bolt has no purpose except to make us scratch our heads.

Weissner Route 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  NY : Adirondacks : ... : Noonmark Mountain
Near the left end of the cliff, find the crack with the lag bolt hammered into it above your head. Climb the widening crack (read OW) to the summit. This is a great climb, and the rock is very sharp!...[more]   Browse More Classics in NY

Photos of High Peaks Slideshow Add Photo
Sunset after climbing Gothics.
Sunset after climbing Gothics.
The view from the summit of Gothics
The view from the summit of Gothics
Avalanche Lake <br /> <br />Should Have Its Own "Area"
Avalanche Lake

Should Have Its Own "Area"
The cliffs of Avalanche Lake
The cliffs of Avalanche Lake
from the southern end of Avalanche Lake
from the southern end of Avalanche Lake
Comments on High Peaks Add Comment
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By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
Nov 17, 2007

Thanks for posting such a comprehensive and inspiring area description. I hope your words DO inspire some climbers to head back there and explore what this grand area has to offer.