When it's in, this is the most continuous and sustained alpine ice climb we have in New York. It usually offers 3-5 separate lines. Catch this in the right conditions. March and April are usually best. What looks like ice from the doorstep of High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid can be sketchy snow-covered rock in reality so pay attention to weather patterns and trip reports.
The three most common lines are left, middle, and right. The far left side offers the easiest climbing with many trees to use for pro. The middle is the most aesthetic an can have a fun steep start on the overlap. When I climbed it the ice quality was the worst on the top half of the face but was stellar down low. The right side offers a line similar to the middle with a separate exit. The right side is generally thinner.
When you get to the face pretty much what you see is what you get. The best strategy is to simul-climb so climbers should be prepared to climb without falling on thin grade 2 ice. It would make a great solo if conditions are right. If you pick your line carefully it would be possibly to pitch it out and belay every pitch but don't get yourself stranded without a belay.
Start at the Garden trailhead and hike towards John Brook Lodge. After 3.0 miles there will be a junction. You want to go towards the Orebed Brook Lean-to/Gothics. If the water crossing is bad take the high water bridge. After a mile you will reach the Orebed Brook lean-to and you need to start paying attention to the trail. You will pass several small drainages and a cool overhanging boulder that would make a sweet bivy/bouldering area. Continue until you hit the largest of the drainages and cross to the other side. If there is a beaten trail to the North face it will usually start here. The best approach from here breaks off the left side of the trail and sticks to the right at forks in the stream for the first 5-10 minutes of the bushwhack. From hear follow the stream until you start to see the face. Obviously as you get closer you can decide to go left or right depending on which part of the face you want to climb.
Descent can be made by:
-Hiking down the Orebed Trail from Gothics summit
-Hiking down the trail over Armstrong
-Hiking down over Pyramid(this would end at a different parking lot)
-Skiing or snowshoeing the True North slide(this is the separate, lower-angle curved slide to the left of the North face)
-The proper North face has also been skied but it would be extremely difficult in most conditions
If it's a really good year it will take some screws. Bring stubbies and many long slings. There are no fixed anchors and pro can be very difficult to come by. Most of your pro will be questionable screws or small slung trees. Some larger solid trees exist depending on which line you choose.