Adirondack Rock Review

by Alan Rubin

My first reaction on hearing that a new two-volume edition of Adirondack Rock was about to be published was, "What, so soon". Could it really be an improvement on the excellent first edition?

Well, it has actually been six years since the first edition was published, and those six years have seen an enormous amount of new development and documentation, to the extent that the new books contain almost double the number of routes since the original, with dozens of new crags included. And, these new crags and routes aren't minor "leftovers", but some are amongst the best the area has to offer. For years I'd heard rumors of a crag or crags at a place called Silver Lake, with "more rock than Poko", but off-limits on lumber company land. However a land deal had brought the area into the public domain just as the first edition was being published, and now the 17 or so crags along the ridge—in plain view from a main road and easily accessible (by Adirondack standards, anyway)—are well-documented in the new volume 2. The routes on just one of these crags—Shangri-la on Potter Mountain—have enough stars to create a small galaxy, a must for lovers of lower angle face climbing. At the other end of the region, Shelving Rock and nearby cliffs in the Lake George region, which contain a sizeable percentage of sport routes along with more tradition Adirondack fare, are also well-documented for the first time. Other new first-rate crags as well as many additions on the older venues also appear in the other 8 regions covered in the books.

As for my other concern, yes, the new books are a distinct improvement on an already high-quality predecessor. The most readily noticeable change is color—high-quality color photos throughout (not just a group in the middle of the book), color maps, color photo topos to supplement the excellent line drawings carried over from the first edition, colored maps, and various color codings in charts and route descriptions. In addition the new books contain new graphs and charts summarizing the climbing options in each of the various regions, and often on the more important individual cliffs. The appendix at the back organizing various crags into different and interesting categories—e.g., crags accessible by boat, crags with mostly bolted routes, etc.—has been greatly, and usefully expanded. The books also contain many more of the vignettes and memories that add 'life' to the route descriptions. And did I mention the photos---many photos, palm-itching, beautiful photos that will surely make you want to get on and use these books NOW.

What's missing? Not much. Bouldering isn't included in these books, so undoubtedly an Adirondack Bouldering book is in the works. Beyond that, these 2 handsome books seem to contain all that is needed to help bring us to many wonderful days in these beautiful mountains.

I was recently involved in a discussion about the future of "print" guidebooks, with my friends claiming the phone-applications will soon be the only guidebooks available. I believe otherwise. While such phone guides serve a purpose, at least where there is reception (and the ability to recharge batteries), I feel that print books are also evolving to provide information in ways not so easily visible scrolling on a small screen. Even if they may not be taken into the 'field' quite as much, books can serve better than any 'app' to preserve the history of an area, to psyche us up for new adventures and to plan them . Books last, apps don't. Over the past few years the Adirondacks have lost some of the region's most influential pioneers: Dennis Luther, just before the first edition came out, then Joe Szot and Geoff Smith, and most recently, the great John Turner. Books serve as a lasting memorial to the dreams and accomplishments of such climbers, and of all of us. These two volumes are a wonderful example of how good at accomplishing this purpose such books can be, as well as providing the rest of us with a vast amount of valuable information and inspiration.