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Upstate NY Climb/Paddle Trip help!
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By Tighe Blackadar
Apr 20, 2013
Cannon

I am in the very early planning of a 5 day trip to upstate New York in late August this year. I am trying to plan a paddle/camp/climb trip for 4-6 people.

I am posting simply to see if anyone has planned or gone on a similar trip, and would have some advise, warnings, ideas that may be helpful in my planning. I know that as a backpacker, helping other people plan trips only makes be a better trip planner, so I'm hoping their may be some people out there willing to share some thoughts.

I am planning to sport climb and TR. Looking into the Lake George region, but noticed that the waterways are beautiful, but their is a lot of trad climbing in the area. I'm not ruling that location out as an option though.

Thanks in advance!
-Tighe


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By Jim Sweeney
Apr 20, 2013

Tighe,

Try asking here Adirondacks Forum


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By Spencer N
From Dover, NH
Apr 20, 2013

You can also get in touch with St Regis Canoe Outfitters

Theyíre a great crew and Dave (the owner) has put up several FAs in North Conway and Keene Valley. He might be able to point you to climbing in the area.


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By Valerie Bachinsky
From West Sand Lake, NY
Apr 20, 2013
Roger's Rock, Lake George, NY

One option that I haven't done but is high on my list of Adirondack backpacking/climbing trips to do is Long Pond east of Indian Lake. If you want to combine all 3 activities you mentioned you could paddle across Indian Lake to the John Mack Trail then hike to Long Pond to camp and climb. It is all trad though and I have been told that the routes are difficult to spot from the ground due to the thickness of the forest at the base of the cliff. (map)

There is also an option at Pharoah Lake but you would have to carry your boats in the 2.5 miles to the Lake. Prior to when I started climbing I remember seeing a group toproping at a cliff along the trail to Pharoah Mt. (from the lake) although nothing is mentioned in Adirondack Rock about anything to climb in that area.

There is also Bluff Island on Lower Saranac Lake. Again, I have never been there to climb but it is mentioned in Adirondack Rock as a toproping spot. There is a state campground on the lake with paddle-to campsites that you can reserve.


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Apr 20, 2013
Epic free solo with a pack on

Spencer N wrote:
You can also get in touch with St Regis Canoe Outfitters Theyíre a great crew and Dave (the owner) has put up several FAs in North Conway and Keene Valley. He might be able to point you to climbing in the area.



Cilley, right?


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By Gunkiemike
Apr 21, 2013

Ben Brotelho wrote:
Cilley, right?


Wow, I remember him from the mid 70s when he ran the EMS in Lake Placid.

To the OP - are you doing day trips for these activities or is it intended to be a multi-day paddle with the climbing gear? If that's the case, I suspect you're going to have trouble finding any decent climbing along the usual canoe routes (e.g. the Fulton Chain starting at Old Forge). You'd have a lot more options if you base camp at, say, one of the state campgrounds and visited the various spots that Val mentioned. Lewey Lake or Indian Lake Islands campgrounds are in a good spot for this.


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Apr 21, 2013
Rumney

Most of the ADKs is trad, or mixed (trad with some bolts).

The Lake George area has a high concentration of mixed and sport routes relative to the rest of the park. Shelving Rock has some sport, but many routes require some trad gear placement as well. Some sections at Shelving Rock can be TR'd once you get to an anchor. Similar for Stewart's Ledge, which is single pitch and many of the routes can be TR'd if you know how to find the anchors from the top. A few pure sport routes there. 5.8 The Entertainer is all sport and lots of fun for the grade. Sadly it's only 60'. Stewart's Ledge is also not directly accessible from the lake, mostly private land surrounds it.

Further up Lake George is Roger's Rock, which has some bolted slab climbs in the harder (for slab) range. I still think a few of those require gear though. It's also a very short paddle from the nearby campground, so not an epic paddle by any standard. The bigger issue with LG is the amount of motorized boat traffic. I wouldn't want to paddle it anytime after April and before October. And with the amount of development along the shore I wouldn't want to just stay confined to enjoying nature along the shoreline (unless your idea of nature is people, houses, roar of boats, and docks).

Much of the paddling to be done in the ADKs requires some portaging. Low's Lake comes to mind as a 3-4 day trip if you want to take it easy, and doesn't require any long portages (one short portage around a dam). It's popular so arriving mid week would assure you a camp spot, or at least one closer to the start of the lake. I think there's some climbing along the lake too, but it's trad (not that much of it either, but possibly top roped).

The Oswegatchie is a nice paddle up a slow moving river with many camp spots. Not sure there's any climbing though. Same for the St Regis area. Numerous loosely interconnected ponds (short portages) and camping, but no waterside climbing that I'm aware of.

There's some climbing on Saranac Lake, but it's also trad and the lake can be rather busy (similar to lake george) during the summer.

Lake Champlain is a busy motor boat area but it's so large that you can probably just canoe along the shoreline. Like LG there's a lot of development. Although I've yet to climb there, supposedly there's a fair amount of climbing that can be done along and near the shore. Probably some TR opportunities there.

Not sure what your level of paddling experience is, but many of the lakes are rather large and with wind/waves starting in the mid morning it's best to get most of your day's paddling in early/late. This leaves a lot of free time. I used to paddle and now climb. I prefer climbing (of course) and to combine the two seems like more work than it's worth, at least in most cases. The Adirondacks has good paddling and good climbing, but you are severely cheating yourself when those two activities are forced together.


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By NickG
From Syracuse/Keene, NY
Apr 21, 2013

I agree that its hard to combine the both climbing and paddling into a 5 day period, especially considering that your looking for sport and TR climbing. I would recommend focusing in on one activity. The Adirondacks are a world class paddling destination and while the climbing is great, I dont think its on the same level as the paddling.

That being said a paddle into lows lake and climbing at grassy pond mountain may be your ticket.


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By Spencer N
From Dover, NH
Apr 21, 2013

Ben Brotelho wrote:
Cilley, right?


Yeah, thatís him.

Tighe: Grab a copy of Adirondack Rock It covers the ADKs pretty well. Iíd personally avoid the Lake George region for paddling, although I havenít climbed there. The Saranac Lake/Lake Placid area has great paddling and a few small TR crags - Bluff Island & Mt. Baker. The McKenzie Pond Boulders are right outside of town.

As for paddling, the Nine Carries loop is pretty good, if you donít mind some portaging. You can also check out Long Pond Mountain - itís a short hike but the only way to access it is from the water.

If you pick up a copy of the Adk Paddlerís Map (also by Dave Cilley) make sure you get the latest version. The DEC moved/replaced quite a few of the campsites in the area in the past few years.


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Apr 21, 2013
Rumney

Also worth mentioning is Good Luck Lake. There's climbing at Good Luck cliffs, and across the road at Lost T and other small crags. TR'ing might be tricky, especially the Good Luck cliffs where most of it needs to be trad climbed to setup anchors. Lost T is probably the best TR'ing spot in that area.

Paddling into there is fun but limited.


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By Valerie Bachinsky
From West Sand Lake, NY
Apr 21, 2013
Roger's Rock, Lake George, NY

Kevin Heckeler wrote:
There's some climbing on Saranac Lake, but it's also trad and the lake can be rather busy (similar to lake george) during the summer.


According to Adirondack Rock, Bluff Island is not ideal for trad leading and is better as a "lower in and top-rope" location(like Otter Cliffs in Acadia). Although the Saranac chain does allow motor boats it is no where near as busy as Lake George and from Lower Saranac Lake you can paddle to quieter areas and even hand-operated locks. Lower Saranac Lake is on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and the paddling from there is limitless. With portages, you could do a thru-paddle. If the OP is looking for a paddling trip with a little TR climbing thrown in this seems like an ideal option.

Here is a MAP to the camping on Lower Saranac. You can see that there are several sites near Bluff Island. If you do decide to do this I would suggest getting your reservations in sooner rather than later as these sites go quickly (and may already be gone).

As already mentioned, Adirondack Rock would be a great resource for planning your trip. There is even a small section in the back of the book that lists canoe-approach crags.


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Apr 21, 2013
Rumney

Valerie Bachinsky wrote:
According to Adirondack Rock, Bluff Island is not ideal for trad leading and is better as a "lower in and top-rope" location(like Otter Cliffs in Acadia). Although the Saranac chain does allow motor boats it is no where near as busy as Lake George and from Lower Saranac Lake you can paddle to quieter areas and even hand-operated locks. Lower Saranac Lake is on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and the paddling from there is limitless. With portages, you could do a thru-paddle. If the OP is looking for a paddling trip with a little TR climbing thrown in this seems like an ideal option. Here is a MAP to the camping on Lower Saranac. You can see that there are several sites near Bluff Island. If you do decide to do this I would suggest getting your reservations in sooner rather than later as these sites go quickly (and may already be gone). As already mentioned, Adirondack Rock would be a great resource for planning your trip. There is even a small section in the back of the book that lists canoe-approach crags.


Thanks for the beta Val! :)


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By Tighe Blackadar
Apr 21, 2013
Cannon

Wow, I really appreciate the thorough responses everyone! I will look into each of these ideas/options and see where things take me.

Nick and Kevin, I see where you guys are coming from as far as packing two different demanding activities into a 5 day trip, it's quite ambitious! I'm really just trying to weight things out and see what is within the realm of possibility.

Looking forward to picking up some literature and getting the planning going. Ill keep my planning posted up here.


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By Logan Schiff
From NY, NY
Jul 23, 2013

You've probably made your plans by now but I'll share my recent experience anyway. I just got back from a weekend of camping in the Keene region of the Adirondacks. While we didn't do quite as much climbing as I would have liked, due to the weather and because my wife didn't feel like it, we did manage a half day of kayaking in lower Sarnac on Saturday.

I don't know if it was particularly quiet because it had rained the first half of the day, but there was virtually nobody on the lake. It was quite serene and beautiful and it even appeared that some of the islands were potentially still available for camping. The island camping looked amazing. The islands were a good amount larger than I expected and are only like $20 a night since it's through the DEC. Absolutely no comparing it to the overdeveloped Lake George and might be worth a day trip if you aren't staying there.

We managed to briefly explore Bluff Island. It supposedly includes a 70 foot cliff but most of the narrow cliff band looks to be more like 50-60 feet. I witnessed a guy cliff jumping so I decided it was safe to try my first deep water solo, which I vaguely recalled the guide book mentioning as feasible. I picked what looked like an easy line up a crack on the left side but ended up feeling harder than expected and probably 5.7ish due to the dirtiness of part of the crack.

Looks like some decent climbing along the cliff and probably upwards of 10 routes. Would be easy to set up top ropes as there are trees at the top, though you will have to belay from above. Easy scramble up. There is a nice 20 foot diving platform on the right edge of the cliff if you aren't up for the 70 foot jump, which my wife dissuaded me from (I was scared anyway).

Have a great time whatever you do. God I love the Dacks. Wish I was still there...


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Jul 24, 2013
Rumney

Logan Schiff wrote:
... we did manage a half day of kayaking in lower Sarnac on Saturday. I don't know if it was particularly quiet because it had rained the first half of the day, but there was virtually nobody on the lake.


That is precisely why. People only motor around when it's sunny and warm. Lake George can even be quiet on any given day, depending on weather and if it's a weekday. I've paddled the Saranac on an average weekend day and there were a ton of boats scattered about. It's just part of paddling where they allow motorized vehicles. And since that access is more limited it tends to concentrate the motor boat enthusiasts into these handful of larger waters.

The point is for paddlers to err on the side of caution on larger bodies or water, especially when motor boats are allowed.


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By Alex M. Smith
From Jersey City, NJ
Jul 24, 2013
Mt. Marcy

Spencer N wrote:
You can also get in touch with St Regis Canoe Outfitters


+1


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