Panther Gorge-Castle Column on Marcy

Panther Gorge-Castle Column on Marcy

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 44.11434°N / 73.90624°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 17, 2018
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring

Photo Set: Partner: Ken Hebb Route on MountainProject:

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I rose with the sun at about 5:15 AM but nodded off until 8:00 when I packed camp, took a few photos, and relaxed. I still felt tired but was enjoying everything about the trip. The route from the day before was thrilling, but we still had a little energy left (very little). We wanted to tackle a short line. Ken hoped to exit at a reasonable hour, and I didn’t want to bake in the hot sun for several pitches. I contemplated a short line on the Panther Den where the routes were sustained vertical, but protection was good. Most importantly, I knew they were bone dry.

Ken awoke at 10:00 AM; we bushwhacked to the top and started climbing at roughly noon. It was hot, but these routes generally only take an hour or so to climb. Like the day before, I had to gather my focus to lead.

This area has also held historical significance. Mountain guide Orson Phelps described various features of Panther Gorge to his clients during the late 1800’s. He peered across from the Haystack side and described a feature to photographer Seneca R. Stoddard. He called it Castle Column and noted that it was at the head of the cliff1. While I’m unaware of anyone who knows the specific feature, there is a massive stone near the top. We started the new route a few feet to the left of the monolith, so I named the route Castle Column to honor Old Mountain Phelps.

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Back to the climbing…

The stone on the north end of the “Den” is broken and stacked. It’s key not to touch any of the loose blocks for obvious safety reasons. Thus on-sighting a new route or even following an established one is a mix of climbing and spotting loose stone. I was keenly aware of this as Ken belayed.

A small ledge led to a left-facing corner with a crack in its back…perfect for protection. A ledge at its top allowed me to look at the crux, a finger-crack that led…somewhere. Finger cracks aren’t my specialty, but the edges on the face, texture, and unlimited options to place gear made it fun—not easy, just fun with ample protection.

Jam after jam led to a terrace at its top where I switched to another crack that led into a gully. My other option was to climb a stack of death-blocks on the left—not a smart idea. They’re better left untouched. The back of the gully was damp from the recent rain, but it was good climbing with another stack of much larger blocks along the right. They seemed interlocked and stable though I didn’t test their limits. The route was over at their top.

I plunged into the woods and found a 10-inch thick tree from which to belay. Ken followed and was sitting next to me about 15 minutes later. Both of us were thrilled by the climb. The crack was excellent, and the view from its top was inspiring. The perspective from on high made the treetops look like a dense, textured carpet broken by the occasional piece of talus or cliff.

By the time we rappelled it was 2:30 PM and Ken needed to get moving and out of the Gorge. My original plan was to stay through Tuesday; partially to relax and partially to hunt for a Rab Neutrino jacket that I’d lost in March. Instead, I followed Ken out. I wanted to avoid the storms forecast for Monday and visit a friend. Ken stepped up the pace after refilling his water while I lollygagged my way down to Johns Brook Lodge. I was in no rush. My evening was spent talking with Ranger Scott at the Interior Outpost. Thank you for the coffee, food, and company. This was a fitting end to a fine few days in the backcountry.

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Prior Trips to Panther Gorge

  1. Grand Central Slide (w/Mark Lowell)
  2. Grand Central Slide Descent, up the Margin Slide & Skylight Bushwhack (w/Greg Kadlecik)
  3. Marcy to Haystack Bushwhack with Great Range Traverse-Great DeRanged Traverse(w/Greg Kadlecik)
  4. Marcy East Face Circumnavigation (w/Ranger Scott van Laer)-2013 Aug 24
  5. Marcy (East Face) Ranger on the Rock-East Face Slab (w/Anthony Seidita)-2013 Sep 6
  6. Haystack Slides and Haycrack Route-Day 3 of 4 days in the gorge (w/Anthony Seidita)-2014 May 1
  7. Haystack (V Wall) All Things Holy (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Jul 12
  8. Marcy (Agharta Wall) & Haystack (Free-Standing Pillar) Wreck of the Lichen Fitzgerald & For Whom the Lichen Tolls (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Aug 16
  9. Marcy (Agharta Wall) CrazyDog’s Halo & Watery Grave (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Sep 27
  10. A Snowy Panther Gorge Bushwhack (w/Adam Crofoot)-2014 Dec
  11. Marcy: A New Ice Route – Pi Day (w/Adam Crofoot & Anthony Seidita)-2015 Mar 14
  12. Haystack: 3 New Routes in a New Area (the Ramp Wall) (w/Allison Rooney and Adam Crofoot)-2015 May 30
  13. Marcy (Panther Den) Cat on a Wet Tin Roof (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Jun 14
  14. Rumours of War: Opening a New Area—the Huge Scoop (w/Hunter Lombardi)-2015 Jul 11
  15. Marcy (Feline Wall) Kitten's Got Claws (w/Justin Thalheimer)-2015 Aug 1
  16. Not Every Trip to the Gorge is Perfect –No Route, but a Good Day (w/Bill Schneider)-2015 Aug 16
  17. Marcy (Huge Scoop) The Pride (w/Bill Schneider and Adam Crofoot)-2015 Aug 30
  18. Marcy (Feline Wall) Promised Land (w/Dan Plumley)-2015 Sept 19
  19. Tour de Gorge (w/Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney)-2015 Nov 21
  20. Marcy (Panther Den) Ice Route: By Tooth and Claw (WI4) (w/Bill Schneider & Devin Farkas)-2016 Jan 30
  21. Haystack Ice Climbs-Orson's Tower (WI3+) and Fly By (WI3) (w/Nolan Huther)-2016 March 5
  22. Marcy (Agharta & Panther Den Walls)-Pioneer Anomaly & Belshazzar's Fate (w/Adam Crofoot & Alan Wechsler)-2016 May 28
  23. Marcy (Huge Scoop)-Predatory Instincts (w/Bill Schneider & Nolan Huther)-2016 June 4
  24. Marcy (Feline Wall)-Galaxy of Tears (w/Dustin Ulrich)-2016 June 17
  25. Marcy (Panther Den)-One for the Boys (w/Bill Schneider, Adam Crofoot & Allison Rooney) 2016 June 25
  26. Marcy (Agharta Wall)-Tail of Redemption (w/Bill Schneider & John Pikus) 2016 July 30
  27. Marcy (Panther Den Wall)-Climb After Slime & You Moss Be Kidding Me! (w/Alan Wechsler) 2016 August 6
  28. Marcy (East Face)-Revelations (w/Nolan Huther & Loren Swears) 2016 August 27
  29. Haystack (V Wall)-Psalm 23 & Windjammer (w/John Pikus & Jaryn DeShane) 2016 September 17.
  30. Haystack (North End)-Kitty Cake (WI2) & 2nd ascent of By Tooth and Claw (Marcy) (w/Doug Ferguson & Walker Wolf Bockley) 2017 January 14.
  31. Marcy (Feline Wall)-Chimaera (WI3-) (w/Matt Dobbs & Jace Mullen) 2017 February 18.
  32. Haystack (North End)-Ride the Lightning (WI5-) & Skip the Lightning (WI3-) (w/Alan Wechsler) 2017 March 10.
  33. Marcy (Chimney Wall)-Slacker Cracker (5.9) (w/Adam Crofoot & Jaryn DeShane) 2017 June 3.
  34. Marcy (Chimney Wall)-Marcy's Great Chimney (aka Empty Tomb) (5.8) and All Ryled Up (5.7) (w/Jaryn DeShane) 2017 June 15.
  35. Marcy (East Face)-Anorthofright (5.9-) (w/Steven St. Pierre) 2017 August 27.
  36. Marcy (Chimney Wall)-Panther's Pinnacle (5.9) (w/Steven St. Pierre) 2017 September 16.
  37. Marcy (Chimney Wall Area)-Spiritus Draconis (WI4+) (w/Jaryn DeShane) 2018 February 1.
  38. Marcy (Huge Scoop)-Charybdis (WI4) & Scylla (WI4) (w/Laura Duncan & Brent Elliott) 2018 February 17.
  39. Haystack (V Wall)-John 3:16 (WI4) & PG-13 (WI4) (w/Loren Swears) 2018 March 24
  40. Haystack (No Man’s Land)-Paws Off 5.8 (w/Steven St. Pierre) 2018 June 9
  41. Marcy (Agharta Wall)-Moonraker Runout (5.8+) (w/Ken Hebb) 2018 June 16

Seneca Ray Stoddard, The Adirondacks: Illustrated (Glens Falls: Stoddard, 1891), 170-171.

Skippers on Iris
Skippers on Iris at the Interior Outpost


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