A YEAR OF CLIMBING

It can be difficult to know when a good time of year is to go climbing or what the best choice is for a given day. Over time, I've found that the process of choosing the best objective for the day is something that I greatly enjoy about guiding. Below, are some thoughts and suggestions based on trial and error and experience. They are organized into two or three month "seasons", as that best reflects the most common conditions.

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SPRING (APRIL-JUNE)

Spring, at least in the North Country, is often derided as "mud-season". However, it can be a great time for rock climbing, with fewer to no bugs, sunny cliffs before the leaves come out and low humidity and crowds. 

Recommended Adirondack cliffs for this time of year include: Deadwater, Pitchoff Chimney Cliff, and Hurricane crag.


Regionally, the Gunks three hours to the south, are also great this time of year. 

SUMMER (JULY-AUGUST)

High summer in the Adirondacks is beautiful but fleeting. It usually passes in a frenetic blur filled with eight weeks of climbing, hiking and swimming hole lounging. 

By the 4th of July, the bugs are subsiding and the cliffs are drying out from any spring dampness. The long days and warmer temperatures make this an ideal time of year to venture into the High Peaks.

Recommended cliffs include, the Chapel Pond cliffs (Beer Walls, Spider's Web, Chapel Pond slab, etc), Barkeater, Avalanche Pass and Gothic South Face.

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FALL (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER)

This is it. Sendtember. Rocktober. While the nicknames are cheesy, they are also accurate. This is the prime time of year for rock climbing in the Adirondacks and the northeast in general. As the temperatures begin to drop and the leaves start to turn, spectacular days are possible.

Recommended cliffs include, Poke-o Moonshine, Upper Washbowl and the Silver Lake cliffs. 

LATE FALL/EARLY WINTER (NOVEMBER-DECEMBER)

The short days and often dreary weather of this transitional season can make it difficult to motivate. Drinking coffee, drinking beer and watching movies all seem like better, more palatable options than going outside to climb.

However, worthwhile days can still be found. Searching out sunny, dry rock is possible while early season ice also starts to be possible, usually around Thanksgiving.

Personally, I've been able to comfortable climb rock one week and then make a winter-conditions ascent of the north face of Gothics the next, during this time frame. 

Recommended cliffs include, the Silver Lake cliffs and Deadwater and the Gunks.

For ice, the north side of Pitchoff and Chapel Pond Canyon are likely candidates.

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WINTER (JANUARY-MARCH)

Winter is a season where the Adirondacks shine. Beginning around the holidays, the ice is usually forming up nicely and though conditions may fluctuate, there is nearly always something frozen to climb. 

In early to mid-winter it is good to focus on technical ice climbing at the cliffs around Chapel Pond and Poke-o Moonshine. As the season progresses into late winter, it is a good time to go for some of the bigger backcountry objectives-North Face of Gothics, Avalanche Pass, etc. 

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