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Adirondack Rock Climbing: Wiessner Chimney

Jecinda Hughes belays Josh Wilson as he starts up the chimney.
Jecinda Hughes belays Josh Wilson as he starts up the chimney.

A rock climb doesn’t have to be edgy to be fun and exciting. Case in point: the Old Route on Hurricane Crag between Keene and Elizabethtown.

Jecinda Hughes belays Josh Wilson as he starts up the chimney at Hurricane Crag.
Photo by Phil Brown

The 330-foot route is rated only 5.3 on the Yosemite scale (easy by today’s standards), but you begin by ascending what may be the longest chimney in the Adirondacks. That pitch alone makes this climb worthwhile.

What’s more, the Old Route is of historical interest: it was established by none other than Fritz Wiessner. One of the most accomplished rock climbers and mountaineers of his era, Wiessner pioneered nearly twenty rock-climbing routes in the Adirondacks in the 1930s and 1940s. Among rock climbers, he probably is best known for having discovered the Gunks in 1935.

The guidebook Adirondack Rock describes the first pitch as “incredible—perhaps the largest, highest, deepest, most continuous chimney of its kind in the Adirondacks. Here Wiessner once again picked the plum feature.”

The ascent through the chimney is close to vertical, but given the abundance of foot and hand holds, it is not especially difficult. After squeezing upward for 110 feet or so, exit the chimney and climb to a safe ledge just above and to the right.

The next two pitches are somewhat anticlimactic. On the second pitch, you scramble over slab and ascend a groove, ending on a large tree-lined ledge below more slab. On the third pitch, you traverse left over this slab, eventually following a corner crack to the top of the cliff. All three pitches are rated 5.3.

For a detailed description of the route and descent options (rappel required), consult Adirondack Rock.

One of the more popular routes on Hurricane Crag is Quadrophenia. Click here for a description of this moderately difficult climb.

Click here for a description of another Wiessner route in the Adirondacks.

DIRECTIONS: From Keene, drive east on NY 9N for 4.8 miles and look for a herd path on the north side of the highway. The hike to the cliff takes about twenty minutes. The state has plans to mark the approach trail and build a parking area.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.



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