Type: Trad, 870 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Ed Palen, Bob Starinsky
Page Views: 4,283 total · 102/month
Shared By: Dylan Randall on Jul 13, 2015
Admins: Jim Lawyer

You & This Route

8 Opinions

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Spectacular route in an incredible setting. The California Flake is a striking left-rising flake system that rises from the shore of Avalanche Lake. Pitches 1 and 2 climb this Yosemite-like feature and offer both great movement and some incomparable positions. The following pitches are less easily protected, but are means of continuing your adventure on clean slabs with tremendous views of both the lake and opposing cliffs of Avalanche Mountain.

Pitch 1 (5.9-) PG: Begin on a small patch of grass above the lake, in a small right facing corner. Move up for 10 or so feet until it is possible to traverse left along small edges and good feet, passing an interesting pin along the way. Make some delicate moves to gain a left-rising ramp, clipping 2 more pins once reached. Move up and left along this ramp, then spot a piton with manky webbing overhead. Climb straight up, make a clip, and climb the face to reach the main flake feature. Your adventure begins now. Stem your way up through an impeccable corner, utilizing the wide crack for pro (#4,5 Camalots). Surmount a good ledge and reach a fixed belay.

Pitch 2 (5.9+) G: Jam up through the beautiful flake right off the belay, reaching a large white rock scar where the cracks thin out. Up the corner/flake to the left side of the roof overhead. Traverse right underneath the roof on small face holds, or undercling the roof itself. Gear here is plentiful, but strenuous to place. Turn the roof on its right side, then climb through flakes to the second fixed belay. Spectacular pitch. Most parties rap down from here, as the climbing above diminishes in quality.

Pitch 3 (5.5) R: Traverse left with minimal gear to reach white rock. Move up and left of a large, heavily vegetated corner (trees, bushes, the whole shebang). Climb up and step onto the ledge formed by this corner, belaying from trees.

Pitch 4 (5.7) PG: Climb straight up the white rock above the left side of this ledge, utilizing cracks for pro. Belay in the a large white spot 80' from the start of the pitch.

Pitches 5-8 (5.3) X: Hike the white slabs to extend your adventure with very minimal gear. Belay where you can, and don't fall.


Hike in 4.5 miles from the Adirondack Loj to the pass. Once at the lake, walk the shoreline around the left side to meet the cliff directly. Follow the vegetation and a faint climbers path along the base until you reach a small grassy patch above a flat boulder perched in the water. The route begins in the small right facing corner rather than the dirty flakes further left.

Pitches 1 and 2 have bolted rappels, while pitch 3 requires you to descend off a tree. This can be found on the right end (climber's right) of the large debris-filled belay ledge of that pitch. 60 m rope will suffice, but above the 3rd pitch two ropes are necessary (tree rappels)


The fixed gear on the first pitch is decently trustworthy, but the webbing on the pin above the left rising ramp is not. We were opting to cut it off, but realized neither of us had a knife on us.
Ryan Nelling
  5.9+ R
Ryan Nelling  
  5.9+ R
Cool route. Climbed the whole thing to the top on my quest for more Grade III's. Left bail anchors on the tree islands to climbers right. There's been a bolt added on P3 about halfway through the traverse. I would say P3 is R/X, very runout and nasty fall potential for leader and follower. Aug 24, 2015
Jim Lawyer    
Ryan, there's always been a bolt on P3. Unless you saw 2 bolts, in which case that would be very unusual. Aug 26, 2015
If you're only interested in the first 2 pitches IMO it would be hard to justify the hike in for that alone. My suggestion would be to find something else in the area to make your day complete. There are tons of options. My partner and I finished our day with a summit of Colden via the Trap Dyke. It made for a long but amazing day.

As for the route I felt if it was roadside it would still be considered a good route, but probably not as classic. Its the adventure and surroundings that really make this route a must do. Jun 26, 2016
Definitely bring a #4, perhaps two. and even a #5. Guidebook says "small nuts can be arranged" for p1, but I had to run it out a ton, granted the climbing was quite secure. I also pulled the roof at the undercling and made a balancy foot traverse over, it's quite fun and scary! Sep 21, 2017
Eric Bluemn
Worcester, MA
Eric Bluemn   Worcester, MA  
p1-2 are classic, everything above that is adventure climbing and I wouldn't repeat that section. We climbed up to p4. Microcams helpful for parts of p1 (purple c3). #5 would have made that feel more secure. Rap anchor above p3 is starting to get sketchy and may need to be adjusted soon (the dead tree is flexing quite a bit). p4 can be rappelled on a single 70m rope to the ledge. Sep 24, 2017