Paddle to Crag: Lake George Rock Climbing Gets National Exposure
Adirondack Explorer editor Phil Brown and Associated Press reporter Michael Virtanen not only write about the outdoors, they thrive on it.
The two journalists, who have known each other since second grade and who once worked side by side at the Amsterdam Recorder and the Times Union, have both found beats that allow them to indulge their passions, and they frequently turn their joint expeditions into news reporting.
A recent article by Virtanen about scaling Rogers Slide in July with Brown and Queensbury climber Tom Rosecrans was published in newspapers around the country, including the New York Times.
The story by Virtanen, who has covered Adirondack issues for the Associated Press for decades, is one of several that have appeared in national newspapers and magazines in recent weeks calling attention to Lake George’s extraordinary recreational resources,
“Lake George’s opportunities for hiking, climbing and paddling are often overlooked,” said Kate Johnson, the director of Warren County’s Tourism Department. “These articles not only help build our brand, they attract new visitors. This is exposure we couldn’t afford if we had to pay for it.”
Rogers Rock, Virtanen wrote, is “the classic paddle-to crag,” a climbing spot that can only be approached by boat.
“Almost a mile of shimmering water stretches east to rolling green mountains, and from a few hundred feet up, much of the 32-mile lake to the south can be seen as the mist burns off and the cliffs get warm. The lake issues a siren call to climbers after they rappel back down,” Virtanen wrote.
“I climbed Rogers Rock once before and told Mike about it; he was anxious to try it,” said Brown, who wrote about his first ascent of Rogers Rock for Adirondack Explorer.
The two recruited Tom Rosencrans, the owner of Rocksport Climbing in Queensbury who Brown says is largely responsible for identifying most of the routes up Rogers Rock and who was the first to climb many of them.
On that day in July, they chose Little Finger, which Virtanen describes as “a five-star route with clean rock and stunning views, is an easy climb that follows a vertical crack for 490 feet as it thins to the width of a pinkie.”
Virtanen writes, “The Little Finger ascent is largely a friction climb up a huge slab of brown-hued rock, a narrow route rubbed clean of lichen and nearly black. The crack provides for easy handholds and allows climbers to insert small spring-loaded devices and thread a safety rope through them.”
He quotes Rosencrans: “Little Finger gets climbed almost every day. The others not so much. If you’re going to come to the area and do just one climb, you’ve got to do it.”
Virtanen didn’t neglect to mention Rogers Rock’s place in American legend, which makes it an even more appealing spot for rock climbers.
“The crag gets its name from Maj. Robert Rogers, a militia commander who legend has it was retreating over the mountain after a losing battle in the winter of 1758 and slid down the cliff to escape or made it look as if he did by going to the edge and then retracing his steps while wearing snowshoes backward.”