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New guidebook features local rock climbing spots

April 17, 2008
HEATHER SACKETT , News Staff Writer
LAKE PLACID — Rock climbing enthusiasts Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas have recently released the most comprehensive guidebook on Adirondack rock climbing ever written.

The 652-page book, called Adirondack Rock: A Rock Climber’s Guide, was co-authored by Lawyer and Haas and contains more than 1,900 routes. Released last week, the guide was almost two years in the making with the pair beginning their research in April 2006. According to Lawyer and Haas, their book builds off of Don Mellor’s three editions of “Climbing in the Adirondacks.”

“We wanted to provide information in a modern format,” Lawyer said. “Don’s format is very narrative and vauge we wanted to be very precise and offer a lot of visual aids. Guidebook technology has come a long way since Don’s book 13 years ago.”

Haas said their jumping-off point was an archive of climbing notes the two inherited from Mellor, some of which dated back to the 1950s.

Adirondack Rock is the first book for both Lawyer and Haas, who are also the publishers. Both are rock climbing experts in their own right. Lawyer, 42, who lives in Pompey, in Central New York, makes frequent trips to the Adirondacks to climb. He started climbing in the early 80s and has climbed all over the world. Haas, 34, who started climbing when he was 15 years old, said he became hooked when he realized the sport offered opportunities to be outside as well as travel. He is also a guide for Rock and River in Keene.

The two estimate they have completed about three-quarters of the routes in the book; they relied on the expertise and experience of others for the other fourth.

“We tried to document every roped ascent that’s ever occured in the Adirondacks,” Lawyer said. “That was really hard to do because you can’t know for sure whether something has been done before.”

Haas said tracking down climbers and asking them to remember routes they climbed many years ago seemed at first like a daunting task. Sometimes, Haas said, the only lead they had was a name. But once found, the two were pleasantly surprised with the willingness with which members of the climbing community offered up information.

“The notion that climbing, because it’s an individual pursuit with few rules, you get people who would rather not conform to a guidebook,” Haas said. “When a climb is described as a series of facts, you lose what it means to the first ascensionist. The across-the-board cooperation that we got from the climbing community resulted in this book being as complete as it is. We were overwhelmed by the support we got.”

The area covered by Adirondack Rock doesn’t just focus on the High Peaks region; it spans the entire six-million-acre Adirondack Park. The guide covers everything from well-known routes on the popular Pok-o-Moonshine mountain to obscure, hard-to-find routes that require half a day of bushwhacking with a map and compass to access. Some particularly well-hidden spots required aeriel reconassaince, Haas said.

“We did much more hiking than people would expect when they look at that book,” Haas said.

The guide is not an instruction book; in fact it doesn’t even suggest how to get started in climbing. But Haas said it appeals to the newcomer, as well as the seasoned professional, because it provides so many options that cover all skill levels. The history and essence of climbing in the Adirondacks is captured through colorful and insightful short essays of climbers’ personal experiences, as well as tons of photographs and maps.

After compiling all the information in the book, niether Lawyer nor Haas could pick an all-time favorite route.

“I have a lot of trouble pointing to one in particular,” Lawyer said. “There are so many, but there’s a route called Anaconda on Tongue Mountain near lake George.”

For Haas, who is also an avid skier and trail runner, he said after completing the two-year project he just wants to get back to climbing.

“This season I’m focusing on rock climbing,” he said. “Just because you write a book doesn’t mean you do a lot of climbing. I’ve done very little climbing in Avalanche Pass. I can’t wait to go there.”

¯ ¯ ¯

Lawyer and Haas will be traversing the Adirondacks this spring presenting a slideshow and signing books.

¯6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 22 at Rock Sport Gym in Lake George

¯6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 1 at SUNY Plattsburgh

Adirondack Rock can also be purchased at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley or High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid.



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