August 20th finally rolled around, and unfortunately it was time to leave. After three awesome months of guiding and living the dream in Seward with my fellow EGGs, I hopped on the bus to Anchorage to catch a flight back to New York. After three days of seeing family and friends, I drove off to school in good Clinton, New York to begin my junior year at Hamilton College.
While the rolling hills of Central New York don’t typically lend themselves to climbing, at Hamilton, we’re lucky enough to be located within a 4 hour drive of some world class rock (and ice in the winter!) and some awesome hiking. Being a dedicated college student, my climbing days are restricted to weekends and school breaks. The goal: fit as much adventure and awesomeness into one 24 hour time period. Thus the 24-hour vacation was born. Here are some of them:
Making my way up Roger's Rock.
The semester’s climbing trips started off with an early morning of sorting out climbing and paddling gear, strapping a canoe to the top of my wonderful adventure-mobile, Howard the Subaru, and a drive up to scenic Lake George, in the heart of New York’s Adirondacks. The objective: to paddle to and climb Roger’s Rock, a 700’ slab of rock jutting right out of the bottom of the lake. After a tough paddle in the wind, slight discomfort (that rock is hot in the sun!), and some interesting looks from the families enjoying a day out on the lake, we successfully got some good climbing in and then returned home, comfortably within our 24 hour timeframe.
The view at Lake George.
The next weekend brought yet another climbing trip, but this time, we headed a bit farther north to the High Peaks. After a night in the town of Lake Placid, where we were lucky enough to arrive just in time to see the film Meru (which, if you haven’t seen, I highly recommend), the stoke was high for the next day’s adventure. Off we went to the Chapel Pond Slabs, in Keene Valley, for another day of epic slab climbing. 800’ of pure awesomeness, combined with amazingly good weather made for another exciting day of climbing.
At the top of the Chapel Pond Slabs.
The pace changed a bit the next two weekends, with a few hiking adventures. First up, we had Hamilton Outing Club’s annual 46 Peaks Weekend. Every year, the club attempts to get a Hamilton College student on each of the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks (mountains in the park over 4000’ tall). This year, we hiked Big Slide from the Garden Trailhead in Keene Valley on a beautiful fall day and enjoyed some fresh apple cider and cider donuts on the summit.
Heading up Big Slide.
The next weekend, we headed back up to the High Peaks region, this time with some more ambitious plans. We set off at sunrise with the hopes of summiting Skylight and Gray, two Adirondack High Peaks. Though it was the first weekend of October, we encountered quite a bit of ice on the trail, which made for some tricky hiking conditions in our trail runners. We’ll be sure to bring microspikes next time. 2 peaks, 23.5 miles, and 2 Noonmark Diner (if you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip… their pies are fantastic) milkshakes later, and we arrived back home tired, but happy and excited for more adventure.
At the summit of Skylight.
After two fantastic weekends of hiking, it was time to get back to climbing. Luckily, two of my fellow Exit Glacier Guides, Shawna and Steve, were flying into New York on their way over to Greece! I decided to play a little hooky (sorry Professor Lopez!) and I drove on down to the Gunks to meet up with them for a day of climbing. After enjoying the best Thai food around, and a good night’s sleep, we headed out to the climb some of the classics. Two great climbs later, the changing weather told us it was time to head out, so we hit the road, just as the torrential downpour started. Definitely worth missing class.
Shawna heading up the Belly Roll at the Gunks.
The rest of the fall brought many more Gunks trips, and even a short trip to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. Though fall is definitely my favorite time of year in the Northeast, I was pretty excited for a trip I had planned for the week before Thanksgiving, namely, a backpacking trip to Zion National Park in Utah.
View of Zion Canyon from the Watchman.
I landed in Vegas, hopped in a rental car, and drove off to Zion, located just outside the town of Springdale, in southwestern Utah. Formed by the uplift of the Colorado Plateau and the eroding forces of the Virgin River, Zion Canyon is the most popular part of the park, and for good reason. The steep walls of the Canyon are composed of nine exposed geologic formations, which surround an incredibly diverse set of ecosystems and a pretty amazing landscape.
View from the Pa'rus Trail in Zion Canyon.
The hikes were great, and the weather was fantastic. After five days in the park, I headed back to Vegas for my flight to New York, where I was greeted with an amazing Thanksgiving dinner (thanks Grandma!). The fall was full of lots of good climbing and hiking, and I suspect that the winter will be just as awesome. Unfortunately, the recent warm weather has made it feel more like fall than winter, so I suppose we’ll get a few more climbing days in. What will the beginning of winter bring? A trip up to New Hampshire for some avalanche education, and a excursion to Colorado to ski, climb, and meet up with some more EGGs for the Ouray Ice Fest. Here in the Northeast, all we need is snow (and ice!).
Angel's Landing with the White Throne in the background.