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E: High Peaks Region

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E: High Peaks Region Rock Climbing 

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Location: 44.17141, -74.09871 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 113,548
Administrators: Jim Lawyer, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Rafiki on Nov 6, 2007

84° | 56°

78° | 45°

60° | 36°

58° | 38°

55° | 38°

63° | 39°
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BETA PHOTO: The California Flake as viewed from Something Wick...


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 . 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.

Getting There 

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.


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 here.

Bear canisters are now mandatory if you're staying overnight in the Eastern High Peaks (from Apr 1 - Nov 30). This is the area east of the Northville Lake Placid Trail, and west of the Adirondack Mountain Reserve. Bear Canisters are not required in the Giant Mountain / Dix Mountain Wilderness areas.

Climbing Season

Weather station 8.9 miles from here

113 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',12],['3 Stars',45],['2 Stars',45],['1 Star',10],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in E: High Peaks Region

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for E: High Peaks Region:
Bottle slide   3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a     Trad, Alpine, 1300'   Giant Mountain
Eagle Slide   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, Alpine, 1300'   Giant Mountain
Southeast Slide   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, 2000'   Mt Colden
Cascade Mountain Slide   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, 2000'   Cascade Mountain
Trap Dike (summer)   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, 2000'   Mt Colden
The Old Route   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, 4 pitches, 420'   Rooster Comb Mtn
Bottleneck   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 80'   Giant Mountain
Case Route   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a PG13     Trad, 6 pitches, 1000'   Wallface
Gothics Arch   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Trad, 7 pitches, 800'   Gothics
The Hole, Lizard Head Variation   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 50'   Wright Peak
Out with the boys again   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 4 pitches, 350'   Wallface
Slide Rules   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 250'   Big Slide Mtn.
The Diagonal   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 7 pitches, 860'   Wallface
Something Wicked   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 390'   Avalanche Mountain
Wiessner Route   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch, 90'   Noonmark Mountain
Freudian Slip   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport, 3 pitches, 400'   Big Slide Mtn.
California Flake   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13     Trad, 8 pitches, 870'   Mt Colden
South Face Gothics Direct   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13     Trad, 3 pitches, 400'   Gothics
Free Ride   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 8 pitches, 735'   Wallface
Mental Blocks   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a C1     Trad, Aid, 6 pitches, 530'   Wallface
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in E: High Peaks Region

Featured Route For E: High Peaks Region
Rock Climbing Photo: Working up the solid arete.

Vision of the Victors V5 6C  New York : Adirondacks : ... : Victor
Sit start with both hands crossed on arete. Lean hard right, stand up and reach right to a good hold. Establish feet on overhanging side and work to top using the arete on left and small edges on right. Note: The large backwards "C"-shaped flake is out! It is unstable and also far too easy. Also, the large arcing shelf to the right is not to be used for feet. An extra small pad is necessary to cover the pointed rock in the landing zone....[more]   Browse More Classics in New York

Photos of E: High Peaks Region Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Mental Blocks Buttress on Wallface in late winter ...
Mental Blocks Buttress on Wallface in late winter ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mt Haystack from "Predatory Instincts" (...
Mt Haystack from "Predatory Instincts" (...
Rock Climbing Photo: from the southern end of Avalanche Lake
from the southern end of Avalanche Lake
Rock Climbing Photo: Avalanche Lake  Should Have Its Own "Area&quo...
Avalanche Lake Should Have Its Own "Area&quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: The cliffs of Avalanche Lake
The cliffs of Avalanche Lake
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the summit of Gothics
The view from the summit of Gothics
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunset after climbing Gothics.
Sunset after climbing Gothics.

Comments on E: High Peaks Region Add Comment
Show which comments
By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
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.

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