Ever thought of climbing a really steep cliff? Sound intriguing? If it does, I have three rules of vertical climbing that I beg, nay plead that you follow when you next climb a mountain like the Precipice Trail.
One, take a small step rather than a bigger one as you climb; two, look for handholds in the stone; and three, keep at least three points of contact when climbing the mountain (i.e. two feet and one hand).
Last September I climbed the Precipice Trail of Verticality with Mitch Sakofs, my teaching buddy and personal mountain climbing guru. Today Hannah and I will follow to the point of obedience his guidelines to the mountain top.
Last year, I titled that blog, Dan and the Bad Ass Precipice Trail, which suggests how challenging that hike/climb was for me even with a guide with Sherpa-DNA like Mitch. Click here for that death defying 2018 blog.
So, what’s with the Tame in the title of today’s posting? You might be thinking, Dan, do you believe you are now the bad ass? Let me explain.
Hiking today on a 70F afternoon in early September after warming up with a morning of pickleball in Bangor, Hannah and I have a trail that gets our attention immediately with stones, boulders, and more stones rising high above us.
Within a couple hundred yards, there is a boulder with three rungs that requires significant stretching and agility. It’s the perfect yardstick to see whether you and this hike will find trail love. See Hannah attack this boulder below.
Successfully, Hannah meets the initial challenge and is ready for her first climb up the Precipice Trail. Our climbing rules have us thinking of hand grabbing of the stone, and often, I have four points (i.e. both feet and hands) as I lean into the mountain. Following the blue blazes to the summit, we have the comfort of knowing others are here on this popular trail for support if need be. By the way, Hannah at 5’4” has to leg stretch even farther than I do at 5’10”, which makes this entire climb just a bit more challenging for the shortcakes among us.
At the junction of the Orange and Black Path halfway up the mountain, we go from bouldering with rung climbing to the “ladder” section of the trail. This more vertical part of the climb has us reaching for metal rebars securely anchored into the mountain of rock. As you might expect, there’s a rung whenever we need it.
For this my second time up the Precipice, I never feel vulnerable and at risk on the trail; in fact, a little cocky but not blase. Let the pictures tell our story.
In an hour and twenty-five minutes Hannah summits Champlain Mountain feeling on top of the world while I think it pretty cool that we did this together. Neither of us feel that this hike/climb pressed us to our limits as I did a year ago. Above the cliffs, we have views of the islands to the east in Frenchman’s Bay.
Rarely do hikers climb down the way we came up. As with many others, we take the Champlain North trail to the Black and Orange Path which has little of the verticality of the Precipice Trail. A half mile walk on the Park Loop Road brings us back to the trailhead.
Tame? I tamed my fear of this climb.
Next September, Hannah and I look forward to the Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park’s sister vertical climb.