Thursday, July 25, 2013

Climbing with kids: Chapel Pond, 07/14/2013

Daniel climbing the lower portion of Tilman's Arete. The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
What seemed like a weeks-long rain cycle followed by a weeks-long heatwave made it hard to enjoy being outdoors during the first part of the summer, but we managed to squeeze in a day of climbing at Chapel Pond. I was mentally prepared for the worst, expecting mud, damp rock and horrendous mosquitoes. We must have picked the right spot to climb though, because the rock was dry, mud and bugs were nowhere to be found, and a pleasant breeze off Chapel Pond kept us cool all afternoon.

Our expanded group heads in from the Chapel Pond parking area.  The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Our plan was to meet up with friends from Vermont and set up a top-rope or two somewhere in the Chapel Pond area. Then our party of 6 nearly doubled in size when by chance we ran into 5 more friends from New Paltz at the Chapel Pond pull-off. So we all headed to the far side of Chapel Pond and took over the Tilman's Arete / Shipton's Arete crag.

Even though we had a large group, we all had a common goal for the day: fun and easy climbing. Tilman's and Shipton's aretes are maybe 100' apart, making it easy to share top-ropes. Two or three variations can be climbed from each top-rope, all at easy, kid-friendly grades (5.6 and under). I've always enjoyed the more challenging second pitch of Tilman's, but we stuck to pitch 1 - multi-pitch climbing just doesn't work well for family groups.

The easy approach hike and good top-rope anchors made Tilman's / Shipton's a good choice for family climbing. If there's a downside, it's the base of the crag, which can be a bit cramped for a group our size. On the other hand, Tilman's and Shipton's are both right at the water's edge, so Daniel enjoyed a bit of fishing (unsuccessfully) as a diversion between climbs.

Nice climbing technique by Sylvie. Too bad she's such a featherweight that I could barely lower her.  The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.
Kids are natural climbers, but I was still pleasantly surprised when Daniel climbed straight to the top of both top-ropes with no difficulty or hesitation. Both climbs go about a hundred feet up (about the maximum amount possible with a 60-meter rope), so there's a lot of climbing and a decent bit of exposure. "Real" climbing shoes (Daniel's using a pair of Beth's old shoes, Sylvie's using a pair of kid shoes we picked up last year) plus the experience of several climbing outings this year and last have given both our kids confidence and enabled them to be pretty successful junior Fritz Weissners. For Sylvie, the climbing wasn't as much a challenge as coming down: she's so small (35, 40 pounds?) that she didn't have enough mass to overcome the rope drag when I lowered her, and I had to send Beth scrambling 20' up the cliff to pull her down.

Having lots of adults in our group made it easy for Beth and me to each get a chance to climb while the other kept an eye on the kids. For me, the funnest climbing was the 5.6 No Picnic line on Shipton's, a long (100') face climb on clean, featured rock. That was a nice surprise because I've climbed at Shipton's once or twice before but must have missed that particular line.

I've got a few more crags in mind for us to check out for some family climbing. Hopefully we've got the wet weather behind us and the rest of the summer will be sunny, dry and bug free!

Daniel fishing in between climbs. Washbowl Cliff - another great climbing crag - is directly across Chapel Pond.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment