The East Face of Marcy is a magnificent area in one of the most remote regions of the High Peaks: Panther Gorge. Climbing anywhere in the gorge means committing to the full spectrum of an Adirondack backcountry adventure including a long approach followed by a bushwhack where navigational experience is necessary. Logistically, the trip is easier when broken into more than one day. Depending on your approach the round trip can be anywhere from 17-22 miles.
Park at the Garden Trailhead in Keene Valley ($7.00/day fee). Get there early as the lot tends to fill quickly. Follow the Phelps Trail 7.5 miles to the intersection with the Range Trail leading to Mt. Haystack. Bushwhack into Panther Gorge trending to the right of center toward the Panther Den Wall and then down to the bottom of the gorge. The initial approach from the north end of Panther Gorge is riddled with large boulders. Take care of the deep voids between boulders. Navigate southwest toward the east face of Marcy once at the bottom of the gorge. Cross the drainage from Grand Central Slide (about 15 feet wide). Avoid a large debris field from a 2011 rock-fall on the right side of the face. Hug the bottom of the face on easy terrain until you're about 100 feet away from the southern edge--a slide that forms the margin of the face. The route starts on featured slab amongst defined.
Optional overnight near Slant Rock, either at the lean-to or one of several camp sites. Bear canisters are required when camping in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30.
Compass/topographic map/gps for the off-trail approach
60 meter rope
Cams: small to medium
P1 5.3-PG:Begin with easy slabclimbing for about 80’. Traverse over to a small vegetated left-leaning right-facingcorner. Step left over the corner and follow it up until its end. The featurebecomes more rounded and less vegetated at the top. Climb 30’ up and slightlyright over small overlaps to an edge with good protection. 210’.
P25.3 G:Traverse right and up over more small overlaps toward a tree island with alarge dead tree (tree is loose). The face becomes chunky on approach to the island.100’.
P3 5.6 R:From the opposite side of the tree island, traverse right to the beginning of a sloping ledge with small evergreens on the far side. The best quality rock is away from the trees. Climb the face up to the base of a large overlap where the first good protection is available. Traverse left to another tree island. 165’.
P45.3 R: Climb up the face and into the grass to the base of the cliff at the top. 60’.
Descent:Traverse right (north) across top of face on grassy shelves into trees. Your target is a gully about 300 feet north of the top of pitch #4. Rappel down the gully with over 530 feet of elevation loss; plan for 6 rappels and look for firm trees as anchors.
Start of the route. The obvious water line leads alongside a left leaning ramp (to the left).
Nearing the top of the second pitch.
View from belay point to the next belay near the dead tree.
Traverse to the first anchor of the third pitch. Anthony Seidita in photo.
Anthony Seidita on belay at the top of the third pitch.
Climbing the final pitch to the top of Marcy's East Face.
Thanks to Anthony Seidita for his help in defining the route! See Adirondack Rock2nd edition under the High Peaks/Panther Gorge section for more details on Ranger on the Rock and the Margin Slide (due to be published in 2014).
FA Sept. 6, 2013 Anthony Seidita, Kevin "MudRat" MacKenzie / P1: Aug 24, 2013 Kevin "MudRat" MacKenzie, Forest Ranger Scott van Laer.
"May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey. God Bless."