Silver Lake Classics

Words by Jesse Littleton

The original version of this article was featured in Issue #7 of Climberism Magazine. Consider subscribing, it’s free.

In the Adirondack Park, halfway between Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh, lies an oasis of granite like none other. It’s off the beaten path, but still convenient to visit. Recently, there’s been a first ascent gold rush – Silver Lake has been open to climbers for more than two years now. In those two years, more than 130 routes have been documented. In fact, there are more climbs at Silver Lake than there are at the Beer Walls and Spider’s Web combined. You can easily climb high-quality routes for a full day at more than a dozen crags that exist at Silver Lake. These are some of the classics.


Richard Wilson on the third pitch of The Brazilian (5.10a) [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection

Center of Progress Cliff.

The Center of Progress cliff is a tall one with some instant classics. The Tooth and Nail area has three climbs not to be missed: African Barking Spiders (5.11a), Tooth and Nail (5.10b) and Oral Surgery (5.11b). Also, don’t forget to do the splitter Connecticut Yankee (5.10d), a contender for best climb at Silver Lake.


Colin Loher on the first free ascent of Tooth and Nail (5.10b) [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection

Potter Mountain

Potter Mountain, the land of the 5.10s, is the tallest of the cliffs, with several climbs coming in it at over 300 feet. Go to the area called Shangri La and climb the crazy moon rock slabs. There isn’t a bad pitch up there but make sure you do The Brazilian (5.10a), Once in a Lifetime (5.10d), Groovitational Pull (5.10a), Positive Latitude (5.10b) and Every Inch Counts (5.10a).


Jesse Littleton climbing “moon rock” on Once in a Lifetime (5.10d) [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection

Summit Cliff

The Summit Cliff is remote and wild. It’s a steep hike that takes about an hour and most of the pitches are 100% trad. The seclusion you will find here is part of what the Adirondacks are all about, and you can’t help but feel bad ass climbing at this cliff. Make sure you don’t miss Queen of the Jungle (5.10b), Great Northern Diver (5.10d) and Tales of Weakness (5.9), Green Mountain Boys (5.9), Handlebarbarism (5.10b) and Hairy Upper Lip Drip (5.10b).


Devin Berberich on the first pitch of Great Northern Diver (5.10d) [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection

C Chimney Cliff

The last of the well developed cliffs is the C Chimney Cliff. Here you’ll find long hard pitches with a mixture of cracks, slabs, roofs and steep faces.  Outstanding climbs here include Zoinks!! (5.11a), Haroom Baroom(5.11d), Bearded Munchkin (5.10b), Seeking Enlightenment (5.10d) and Hippie Sticks and Black Flies (5.11a).


Tom Wright and Peter Nichols on the second pitch of Groovitational Pull [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection


Mark Scott, just after the crux on the first pitch of Hippie Sticks and Black Flies (5.11). [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection


Rich Wilson on the first ascent of Handlebarbarism. [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection


Jesse Littleton on pitch two of Zoinks!! (5.11a) [Photo] Jesse Littleton Collection

Of course, these are just the classics of Silver Lake so far.  There are several undone projects waiting to be sent, as well as acres and acres of unclimbed rock.  Whether you want a day of cragging, or a day of first ascending or some mix of both, Silver Lake has it.  So get out there and enjoy the wildness and seclusion, the stellar and sometimes lunar.  Silver Lake is sure to deliver.



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