If you were in the northeast during Martin Luther King Day weekend (unlike me) you could have dropped into Keene, New York in the Adirondack’s High Peaks Region for the International Mountainfest. It’s a great celebration of winter and the mountains that has been around for fifteen years, thanks to it’s hosts The Mountaineer, an outfitter in Keene Valley (just down the road) and Rock and River Guides, where the event is always held.
At the event the whole family or your friends can stay at the Rock and River Guides’ Inn or at one of Keene Valley’s B&Bs, and enjoy the ice climbing skills course or go snowshoeing if the climbing is too intimidating. There really is something for everyone except those longing for the beach (and why would you in such a better environment?)
Rock and River Guides are open year round and offer ice climbing and general mountaineering skills in the winter and rock skills and fly fishing in the summer. The 16th Annual Mountainfest will likely be held on Martin Luther King Day weekend in 2012 as well.
The event is worth attending and it would be a great introduction to climbing in the High Peaks. In fact, the guru of Adirondack climbing and the author of the bible on the subject, Don Mellor, is attending. So go, climb (or start!) and explore the Adirondacks from the ice walls:
Pitchoff Mountain — great for top roping near the Cascade Lakes (between Lake Placid, NY and Keene, NY on Route 73)
Chapel Pond — solid for practicing leads some good raps (south of Keene Valley on Route 73)
Poke-O-Moonshine Cliff — a well known wall near Lake Champlain that is enjoyable when it’s full and thick and a brilliant challenge when it’s ice lines are few and far between in an unusual season, as Vermont alpinist Matt McCormick described (east of Keene Valley and Giant Mountain; about 3 miles south of exit 33 on Route 9)