Despite uncooperative weather, this year's conference attendees managed to explore a fine selection of Adirondack crags. It was also a wonderful time to make new friendships, learn from each other, and corporately examine our shared interest in a spiritual context.
Todd Paris, Adirondack SRCFC Representative, organized the conference, and Magic Pines Campground hosted us. Situated just a few minutes south of Poko Moonshine Mountain on Route 9, the campground was a perfect location for the event. We convoyed to that crag several times, both for long stretches of roped climbing and short bouldering sessions. It was also easy to head for other regional destination favorites, and various contingents visited the Spider's Web, Chapel Pond Slab, Pitchoff Cliff, and McKenzie Pond Boulders during the four days of the event.
I was unable to attend the conference on Wednesday; having prior duties involving preparation for this year's SAdkRF, but talking with the folks who made it, the afternoon's weather was good enough for a visit to Poko. Parties hopped on several high-quality lines before darkness pushed them down and off, back to camp.
I arrived Thursday morning, under questionable skies and an ambivalent forecast. Rain looked to be inevitable at some point during the day, but regardless, after breakfast and morning devotion we headed for Chapel Pond Pass as two groups, one going to the challenging face of the Spider's Web, the other to the wide-open spaces of Chapel Pond Slab.
The Spider's Web contingent had already vacated, so we drove back to camp. Calvin whipped up an awesome batch of tacos, we devoured them greedily, and then several of us decided to make use of the remaining daylight to boulder up at Poko. A big boulder lies near the Poko campground's parking lot, and we spent an hour or two playing on it, even setting a TR on the V1 problem along its tallest face. Darkness finally put an end to our folly; we headed back to camp for evening devotion led by Pastor Ken and his son, Zack.
Todd Paris on the left, Pastor Ken Prater on the right.
Pastor Prater spoke on the role of stalemates in life. It's frustrating when we come to these points of conflict, where no clear winner is apparent, no willing subordination is offered, and no solution is in sight. Ordinarily, teamwork and cooperation are the best means to progress. But as Ken pointed out, God uses these stalemates to further His own aims. Refering to the argument between Paul and Barnabas, Ken showed how two talented people expanded the early Church despite their division.
Tim reaches the crux chockstone of Pitchoff Chimney.
Friday morning, Calvin led devotion, handing out the SRCFC Member's Handbook and going through it with the group. I've got to say, as a Christian looking to explain my faith to other climbers, this booklet is the best resource I've ever seen. Without getting into complex Theology or overbearing metaphors, it is chock full of good advice and pragmatic methods for describing Christian faith.
The forecast was not quite apocalyptic, but it was closer to that than anything climbers would want to hear. I had listend to VPR that morning as the Eye in the Sky forecast waxed poetic about oncoming torrents of rain. Fortunately, another attendee, Matt, had checked some Doppler radar images before leaving home that morning, and it looked like we had until 3 o'clock or so to do some climbing. We elected to head for Pitchoff Cliff.
The group stayed together as one until we reached the cliff, at which point we split into three divisions. The stone masters wandered over toward Roaches on the Wall to warm up for harder stuff, I led up Pitchoff Chimney, and Todd set up TRs on the Practice Wall.
With another window of opportunity open to us, we decided to visit McKenzie Pond Boulders. This would give the visitors a glimpse Lake Placid's Olympic attractions and cell phone reception for a few homesick techaddicts as we drove past the town.
Rain returned, earnestly this time, promptly at three o'clock. We fled to our cars and drove out in rapidly-increasing downpour. Some went to the Lake Placid Eastern Mountain Sports store, while I drove back to camp and dropped off the Praters before winding homeward for the night.
I had to work in Lake Placid on Saturday, but drove out to join the gang for the culminating evening. After a spaghetti dinner provided by Caleb's parents, Jean & Lee, we sat together for the last devotion Geoff Smith, a major force of Poko climbing during the 70s and 80s, spoke about his faith and its relationship to his climbing efforts and other endeavors throughout his life, and admonished those of the next generation to consider their climbing in context within their Christianity.
So the weather could have been better; it could have been worse, too. In the end, a chance to talk climbing with people of like passions as well as faith made the event perfect. We may be separated by hundreds of miles and wildly different talents, but we all have that bond of being a "peculiar people" in Christ.