Sunset after climbing Gothics.
The High Peaks Wilderness is home to the highest mountains in New York State. This pristine wilderness area is comprised of over 300,000 acres. The landscapes of the High Peaks include rocky summits, alpine lakes, meadows, countless streams and some of the densest vegetation you could ever imagine. For these reasons, the High Peaks is the epicenter of outdoor recreation in New York State, with backpacking being the most popular. Other outdoor pursuits include backcountry skiing, ice/rock climbing and trail running.
Climbing in the High Peaks is very diverse and can range from a trailside boulder to an alpine ascent of Gothics 1100ft North Face. The rock type of the area is Anorthosite, which is very much like granite. In stark contrast to the Gunks (NY's most popular climbing area), approaches in the High Peaks are measured in miles rather than minutes and often require nasty bushwhacks. Cell phone coverage is severely limited and emergency personal might take quite some time to reach you if need be. The trails may be crowded on the weekends, but you will most likely be alone during your climb. Some of the routes may have seen only a few ascents, so loose rock and lichen are a possibility. The point of these warnings are not to scare you away, but to make you aware the High Peaks is not your ordinary crag, it is a genuine backcountry area. By having a long approach, incredible views and superb climbing, routes in the High Peaks offer a "complete", almost magical climbing experience. Bring self sufficiency and an adventurous attitude!
Throughout the climbing history of the High Peaks, routes have been vaguely and sparsely documented. Some routes have been described in journals as early as the late 1800s. Don Mellor's modern guide purposely left out many details of backcountry routes to maintain a adventurous and somewhat mysterious atmosphere. This attitude may change with the printing of the new guide by Jim Lawyer and Jeremy Haas www.adirondackrock.com/ . The possibility of over-crowded climbing in the High Peaks is unlikely though considering the lengthy approaches and other variables. By adding this area to MountainProject, I hope to inspire the weekend warrior to try a climb off the beaten path. Those seeking pure adventure can still study photographs and choose their own adventure.
Over the past few years, the High Peaks has seen a significant increase in foot traffic, most notably backpackers. It is very important that climbers follow LNT principals and do everything within our power to limit our environmental impact. The High Peaks area has filled me with the greatest sense of freedom I've ever felt. By following current NYSDEC regulations, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy this freedom in a beautiful backcountry setting. The regulations are more than fair and follow a "no bullshit" attitude.
You can find current regulations at www.adirondack-park.net/issues/high.peaks.ump.html
Bear canisters are now mandatory if you're traveling in the High Peaks!
The High Peaks are located in Essex County west of Keene Valley. There are five different trailheads for the area, each with their own regulations. They are: The Garden, Upper Works, ADk Loj, Ausable Club and Elk Lake. The most popular trailhead is The Garden off of 73 in Keene Valley, which fills up quickly on summer weekends. A shuttle surface may be available from Marcy Field if this is the case. What trailhead you should park at depends on your objective, get yourself a High Peaks map.
Browse More Classics in High Peaks
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for High Peaks:
Featured Route For High Peaks
: ... : Wallface
P1 5.5 G - Climb the left facing corner (right side) of depression for 60 feet, then move across face to left leaning small ledge system (crux). Follow this up for a few moves, then traverse right across slabby terrain up to the fixed anchors, or instead of traversing right continue up the left leaning ledge and traverse above this area to a belay to the right of a roof on a slab (below some trees). 180 feetP2 5.5 G (with variants up to 5.8 near top of pitch) - Continue up and right for 50 fee...[more] Browse More Classics in NY
The view from the summit of Gothics
The cliffs of Avalanche Lake
Should Have Its Own "Area"
BETA PHOTO: The California Flake as viewed from Something Wick...
from the southern end of Avalanche Lake
|By Chris Duca|
From: Hinesburg, Vermont
Nov 17, 2007
Thanks for posting such a comprehensive and inspiring area description. I hope your words DO inspire some climbers to head back there and explore what this grand area has to offer.