Climbers and Black Bears Interacting Together

In the past in the Adirondacks the only time that as a climber you had to worry about black bear encounters was during the camping portion of an overnight trip. That all changed summer 2016 with very high black bear activity throughout the Chapel Pond area. Black bears in this area started to target climbers packs that where left unattended while the owners of the packs were climbing. These encounters were all thought to have been the work of one sow and her two cubs. Reportedly these three black bears are all gone from the area, by either being hit by cars or shot, legally, by a hunter. However already in summer 2018 there been reports of black bear encounters in the Chapel Pond area. Below are some tips on how to avoid black bear encounters and what to do if you do encounter a black bear, not just in the Chapel Pond area, but park wide.

Before you go and while you are at a cliff:

-Limit the amount food and gear that you bring with you to the cliff so you can keep it all within arms reach.

-Don’t leave food thinking that it will either biodegrade or that animals will eat it. This is the same as littering and encourages black bear encounters.

If you encounter a black bear:

-Make loud noise! Yelling and clapping your hands work great.

-If after making loud noises you are still approached and have bear spray, use it. Follow the directions for your bear spray carefully! If you don’t have bear spray, slowly back away bringing your belongings with you.

-Do not leave or throw food to a black bear in an attempt to get them to leave you alone. This only encourages the black bears bad behavior.


If you have a black bear encounter PLEASE call the DEC @ 518 897 1220 and report what happened, where the encounter was, and if you noticed any colored tags on the black bears ears. This information helps the DEC to track patterns of problem bears and hopefully prevent black bear problems in the future.


North Face of Pitchoff Ice Climbing Access/Winter Trail Etiquette

The traditional access for ice climbing on the North Face of Pitchoff has been to park at the end of Mountain Lane, then walk along the Jackrabbit Ski Trail until below what ice route you wanted to climb and then head up through the woods.

The Jackrabbit Ski Trail is maintained by skiers for skiing. PLEASE USE SKIES OR SNOWSHOES when using the Jackrabbit Ski Trail to access the ice routes on the North Face of Pitchoff! If you don’t have ski’s or snowshoes the closest place to rent them is Cascade Cross Country Ski Center off Route 73 on the way to Lake Placid or in Lake Placid at High Peaks Cyclery and Eastern Mountain Sports or in Keene Valley at the Mountaineer.

There are many other times, besides accessing the ice climbing on the North Face of Pitchoff, that ski’s or snowshoes should be used. Heading into Avalanche Lake to ice climb is just one area that comes to mind. A good rule of thumb to follow, and in fact the law in the High Peaks, is that anytime there is 8 inches or more of snow, ski’s or snowshoes should be used. Don’t posthole the trails!