Jul 10 26
The Big Apple is a real adventure but it pays to leave the frenetic call of Times Square behind in order to experience some serious thrills outside the city. While a cab ride through Midtown can be a formidable adrenaline rush, the sheer adventure the Adirondacks deliver is incomparable.
As far as adventure sports go, the sky’s the limit in the Empire State’s remarkable mountain chain. The 25,000 km Adirondack Park Forest Preserve, a mere three-hour drive from Manhattan, contains the entire range. The enormous park unfurls a phenomenal assortment of peaks to explore and all told, spans more land than five U.S. states.
Ever since the publication of The High Peaks of the Adirondacks by conservationist Robert Marshall in 1922, the most notable challenge for traditional climbers in the park has been a collection of forty-six summits. While the 1,500 m-plus crests of “46ers” like Marcy, Algonquin, Haystack and Skylight embody the kind of confrontation avid mountaineers crave, another prolific pursuit has taken hold of late: ice climbing.
Winter was once a season to avoid for countless Adirondacks climbers. More and more have come in droves in recent years however, to brave the park’s icy faces. From November to March, the endurance test provides a rugged, chilly asylum to a new breed of Adirondack climber.
Ice climbing’s soaring popularity – not just in the Adirondacks but indeed, everywhere – coincides with advances in high-tech gear, equipment and techniques. While safer than ever, the sport still poses certain inherent dangers. After all, ice, rock, wind and gravity will do what they do, no matter how much control we try to exert over them.
Thankfully, the Rock and River Ice Park provides one of the best places to hone your skills. The Adirondacks guide service employs professional ice climbers – all genuine aficionados and pioneers in the sport – and maintains a secure cliff face for groups of up to twenty people to learn how to safely and skilfully ascend (and descend).
Throughout the winter season, Rock and River guides comb the Adirondacks range to identify new areas perfectly suitable for ice climbers of all experience levels. As a result, routes change from one year to the next and proffer new obstacles and thrills. From one-day group instruction to private lessons over the course of one weekend, the Adirondacks adventure sport operator has excursions for everyone; novice to expert.
Alpine Endeavors also offers top-drawer instruction for prospective Adirondacks ice climbers. Every winter the guide service runs a Big Ice Weekend, with three days of wilderness fun in a variety of locales and two experts per climber. Other guide operators to consider include Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides and Adirondack Mountain Guides.
The range of Adirondacks routes for ice climbers is impressive. From basic-level cliffs where small children study fundamentals to backcountry adventures for serious athletes who want a quality climb, the New York State mountain chain packs a bold punch. Who knew? The perfect ice climb is just hours from hotels in New York City.
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