Type: Trad, 700 ft, 8 pitches, Grade II
FA: Ben Poisson, 1960s (var.)
Page Views: 29,283 total · 247/month
Shared By: Matt Swartz on Apr 21, 2009
Admins: Jim Lawyer

You & This Route

200 Opinions

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As per "Climbing in the Adirondacks" by Don Mellor

P1: From the base of the major left-facing corner that begins Empress, rises a dike that leads up to a belay on low-angled rock. 5.0 150'

P2: Climb up and slightly right to a ledge at the base of a huge right-facing, arching corner. 5.2 110'

P3: Step out onto the face on the right and head for the low point in the wall above. Step through this dish and belay 30' higher at a fixed angle(1979). This can be backed up with camming devices. 5.3 130'

P4: Head up and left to a left-facing corner. This leads to the twin crack belay at 145'. 5.4

P5: Climb the right-hand crack (5.5) and head to the birch tree belay at the base of the Bob's Knob wall. The direct friction route is about 5.7; its easier off in the bushes to the right.

P6: Climb the black wall (5.5) for 20' to a huge terrace.(It is also possible to skip this by finishing off left on friction.)

P7-8: Walk right around the corner and climb two class 4 pitches to the top.

Variation Cave Finish: 5.6 120'. From the terrace, climb into the black cave and finish via a vertical jam-crack.


Normal rack. There are no bolts, some fixed gear, and no anchors.
derek nabozny
Norwalk, CT
  5.5 PG13
derek nabozny   Norwalk, CT
  5.5 PG13
Climbed with Adam Rivera Jun 27,2010 did in 5 pitches Simulclimbed the 5.6 (v2), while the other team in our party climbed off the 5.7 (v3) till the pins just before the bulge on P2 then swung leads after. Climb was a lot of fun esp the crack in corner and the left crack at the twin crack's. The cave finish looked wet and dirty Jul 12, 2010
Mike McLean
  5.5 PG13
Mike McLean  
  5.5 PG13
The route description seems off to me (but I'm a Adirondack Rock fanboy).

Following the same route, Adirondack Rock has it in 6 pitches.

Although the last pitch is easy, I wouldn't call it 4th class.

For us, the descent took almost as long as the climb. The north gully was wet, wet, wet. We never did find the fixed rope, but still got away with a single double rope rappel. Oct 3, 2010
Do yourself a favor and do the starting variation on Pitch 1 (to the right). Standard start looked less like climbing and more like hiking.

Due to all the rain this Spring, the walk down is wet and washed out. May 27, 2011
Matt Glue
Boulder, CO
Matt Glue   Boulder, CO
Catch it dry and the cave finish is awesome! The ~5.7 move out of the cave/chimney is hard to figure out and exposed but well-protected (save your bigger cams). Jul 5, 2011
Kevin Heckeler
Las Vegas, NV
Kevin Heckeler   Las Vegas, NV
Adkrock description was spot on, although books and leaning cracks can get jumbled at certain pointsin the climb. Money pitch was 3 with the crack running along the left facing corner. Last pitch had great position and there were harder variations on the 5.2 sections. Class 4? Not by today's standards...

Fwiw, i feel The Empress and anything on Rogers Rock was pitch for pitch better than this "classic". Other than pitch 3 i didnt think there waws anything here worthy of ever repeating (although ive heard the 5.7 chimney is a good variation). Jul 24, 2011
Matt Baer
Boulder, CO
  5.5 PG13
Matt Baer   Boulder, CO
  5.5 PG13
A nice beginners route for those getting into multi-pitch climbing. Easy slab climbing, I climbed the first 5 pitches in my approach shoes. The 5.6 variation up the chimney makes for an exciting and slightly heady finish. Apr 12, 2012
Montreal, Quebec
  5.5 PG13
Luc-514   Montreal, Quebec  
  5.5 PG13
Not for a beginner climber, he'll have issues with the 20ft+ run-outs.
Instead of heading straight up from the belay up the ramp/black wall to the terrasse on P6 I mistakenly went left on the slab to the corner below the chimney variation. That little mishap will bring you to an enjoyable 5.7 variation (just below the chimney leading to the terrasse ledge).

Major issue I had was with the description and map in the guidebook on how to get to the north gully descent, I ended up taking the first gully which had a nice amount of loose blocks of ice and rock. Apr 16, 2012
Mike McLean
  5.5 PG13
Mike McLean  
  5.5 PG13
@Luc I agree; the descent is the crux. Both times I made it to the top (regular and empress), the descent was longer than the ascent ... There is a jambalaya of heard paths up there. Apr 16, 2012
Kevin Heckeler
Las Vegas, NV
Kevin Heckeler   Las Vegas, NV
A tree at the second rappel is gone/damaged. There is now a slung block that appears safe. Someone might want to bring another piece of 20+ foot webbing since there's only one right now. Lots of loose rocks, beware as they will tumble very far down this gully.

If this climb had a better, bolted rap it would be considered one of the best climbs in the northeast. The descent really limits its appeal. May 20, 2012
Jim Lawyer    
I think people are missing the descent. The Regular Route has been soloed car-to-car in nearly 10 minutes. Really.

From the top of Bob's Knob, you follow cairns to a narrow gully. The entrance to this gully appears unlikely from the top, but it's very easy scrambling once you're in it. There's a fixed rope part way down to use as a hand rail when its wet. From the bottom of this narrow gully, walk down to a fork in the trail. Take the (skiers) left fork and follow the trail downhill and left across a couple exposed sections to a rappel tree. No need to rappel; walk back 20' and find a hidden birch tree with another fixed rope with knots. Hand-over-hand down this for 20', then rock-hop the stream back to the base of the slab.

Irene dirtied the descent a little, but it still goes easily.

Once you've done it, it's trivial.

[edited to add this...]
I should say that the birch of the second fixed line is not hidden, but rather the rope tied to its base is hidden. The birch is nearly dead, so perhaps [hopefully] this can be upgraded soon. May 22, 2012
Logan Schiff
Brooklyn, NY
Logan Schiff   Brooklyn, NY

I just tried the North Descent this weekend using the guidebook description. I made it to what I thought was the first rappel tree after going down the gully but couldn't find the hidden birch tree. Ending up doing two rappels, the second of which required a full 70m rope and a little scrambling to get to the next set of rings, followed by rock-hopping on the stream as described in the book. Jun 18, 2012
Jim Lawyer    
I posted a photo showing EXACTLY where the fixed lines are. You need to explore a little to find them. If you're rappelling, you're in the wrong place. Jun 18, 2012
Logan Schiff
Brooklyn, NY
Logan Schiff   Brooklyn, NY
Thanks. That photo is quite clear. Jun 19, 2012
Missed it at first but photo has been moved to front so available for all Chapel Pond routes. Thanks Jim, great resource as is your book. Jul 2, 2012
Logan Schiff
Brooklyn, NY
Logan Schiff   Brooklyn, NY
Did the walk off yesterday using the map Jim posted. Was indeed quite easy. We made it to the car in 30 minutes at a modest pace. Fixed line appeared to be in fine shape and was easy to descend.

Chimney variation is very worthwhile and protects well with a #3. Jul 22, 2013
Kevin Heckeler
Las Vegas, NV
Kevin Heckeler   Las Vegas, NV
Past couple times on Regular Route we've been using a 2 rapel line that is very clean/easy, and puts you out near Tilman's Arete.

We follow the paths off the last technical pitch of the Regular Route that head into the woods (climber's right) following this contour while heading down, SKIP the first rapel you reach which is about 20 feet off the trail (skier's right) on an exposed tree overhanging a long wet corner and walk for a bit more until you reach a rap station on a small rock outcrop/ledge (tree slung at end of ledge). From this station you can clearly see the next rap station below you, which uses two trees.

Once down from the second rapel walk down 50 feet or so and slightly left through a few large boulders, following the gully down with the cliff on your left. This spits you out in 5-10 minutes at Tilman's Arete, and from there you can head to the road which is the fastest way to walk back to the base to retrieve gear. There might be faster ways, but this descent is easy to find and follow.

Taking the first rap on the right is HORRIBLE, leading down a wet corner to a chossy section.

We haven't tried Jim Lawyer's suggested walkoff yet. Aug 19, 2013
Des Moines, IA (WTF)
Medic741   Des Moines, IA (WTF)
Great climb. The second edition topo/photo and route description was very easy to follow. Linked p1/p2 with a 60m rope, a single rack to #2 is plenty. I placed 2-3 pieces per pitch and felt like plenty. Excellent climbing on beautiful rock.

Following the instructions in the second edition the descent was easy to find, you'll meet with 2 handrails that are in great shape as of 8/15. Aug 11, 2015
Great route. Just "walked" up it today with the wife. I must agree that you need to have experience with trad to have the right state of mind because of the long run-outs. However it is a nice easy climb to get your head into the trad scene. Route finding was easy enough and the descent was manageable. Overall a good day on the wall! Sep 6, 2015
Mike Hazard
Ballston Lake, NY
Mike Hazard   Ballston Lake, NY
Just did the V6 "Li'l Sebastian" finish on Saturday and I would highly recommend it. 5.6 handcrack with some fun layback moves and some really nice jams. It's 3 stars in the book but it didn't look like it sees a ton of traffic, it's also only mid-April though. Apr 18, 2016
Like others have mentioned, the walk off north decent is worthwhile doing and quick. Take the wooded trail to the right at the top and then go a little bit upwards at the slab and then right in the woods again and turn right immediately going downwards. The small wooded gully doesn't look like much but it is well traveled even if quite dirty at the start. The knotted fixed ropes are easy to get down and both look to be in very good condition. When you get to the woods in the gully above Bob's Knob and turn left at the trail fork, there is one section of the trail where it initially looks like the trail ends into a ravine, keep going around the corner and you will see that the trail continues, just be careful at this point. The second fixed knotted rope was very obvious to me, I think because it has been moved. When the trail ends its on your right. It's now on a pine tree that is about eight feet away from the edge, and some one also left some slings and quick links around it if you'd rather rappel it. It looks steeper and more scary than it really is going down the fixed rope. It was no problem at all. So don't be afraid to try it as it's not much different than using the first fixed rope. The rock hop on the dry stream bed was also easy and quick. We were down in a surprisingly short amount of time.

For rock pro, I didn't find hexes, micro nuts, or Ball Nuts useful at all and were just added weight and bulk to carry. Tricams were absolutely critical. I used multiple pinks, a red, brown, and Violet. Also, offset nuts came in very useful for the occasional placement too. And cams were placed the most frequently, surprisingly up to a #4 C4 that I placed multiple times.

For people leading here the first time, don't make the mistake I did of only reading the pitch descriptions at each belay station. Carefully look over the topo in the Adirondack Rock guide book (Please buy the book to support the guide book writers hard work) and see if you can match up the features with what you can see. I got dangerously off route because of this oversight. If your climbing the Regular Route, consider starting at one of the variations to the right. This makes it much easier to stay on route. Otherwise you have to remember to cut hard right and up about 1/3 of the way up the first pitch (which was not obvious to me as I was following the left facing dihedral) and then stay on that right side for the most part. That's where I went wrong and didn't get back on track until almost the end of the third pitch.

See user Ian Dibbs picture for the first pitch of Regular Route:
mountainproject.com/v/10790… Jul 5, 2016
Ian Dibbs
  5.4 PG13
Ian Dibbs  
  5.4 PG13
More walk-off "beta" ...When descending from the top of Regular Route (and Bob's Knob), we all know getting to the "normal" descent trail is to the right, but, you'll have 2 choices. Follow a small forest trail that goes up 50 feet , before it re-joins the down trail or..... cross the slab immediately to hit the down trail.
If you walk directly across the slab be aware, the slope on your right (towards Upper Washbowl) quickly steepens and if you tripped, or slipped on wet leaves in the autumn ... you would fall ... very, very, far. May 28, 2017
If you miss that initial narrow gully to start the north descent, there's a well-worn path that will take you a bit further north and then down. It ends at a drop off (no rap station) so you poke around a bit higher/farther north and you come to a rap station, with another one in view below. Two raps off these put you in the streambed (you are actually descending the winter route Tahawus). Not that much worse than the fixed rope descent. Aug 14, 2017
Led this on Friday (July 20, 2018) - great route! The MP route description will probably get you to the top, but isn't great. Stick with ADK Rock guidebook, it is much more on point. Plan on 6 pitches - which includes roping up for the last pitch (I would not call it 4th class)
Many thanks to Kirby who we met at the top and was gracious enough to show us the best descent route. Probably saved us an hour! Jul 22, 2018
Goulet Goulet
Saint-Félicien, QC
Goulet Goulet   Saint-Félicien, QC
P-1 and 2 can be easily linked into a 70 m pitch if you start by the 5.7 var. Also, the li'l sebastian var. for pitch 6 is the best pitch of the whole route IMO. More exposed and sustained then everything else on the route and it feature great jamming!

The north descend is very easy to follow with the guidebook and will get you to the ground in 10 minutes. Aug 9, 2018