HIGH PEAKS OF THE ADIRONDACKS—CENTENNIAL EDITION
Now available—get to know your 46er heritage.
PREFACE BY SUZANNE LANCE
The first generation of 46ers did more than scramble to summits. It wasn’t just an adventure or a good workout. It was spiritual, and reverent. Grace used to tell how she would pause at the start of each climb and ask the mountain’s permission, a practice many of us still follow today.
Communication technology in those early years was primitive by our standards. That first generation integrated “knowing” the mountain into their adventure, sharing the experience and their knowledge in writing and by word of mouth. They read anything and everything they could find about the mountains, committing much of it to memory. Bob Marshall’s High Peaks of the Adirondacks (1922), Robert Wickham’s Friendly Adirondack Peaks (1924), Russ Carson’s Peaks and People of the Adirondacks (1928), Walter O’Kane’s Trails and Summits of the Adirondacks (1928) and the “recreation circulars” distributed by the State Conservation Department were required reading and cherished possessions. This attitude of respect and reverence became part of the traditions and culture that climbers passed from generation to generation, a unique and romantic heritage distinguishing the Adirondacks from all other mountain regions in the world.
Much has changed in the 100 years that have elapsed since the Marshalls and Herb Clark rambled through lumbering slash and scorched wilderness to the original 42 high peaks. There were few trails back then. The wounds caused by natural forces and human exploitation have since healed. Names have changed. An extensive, modern trail system guides ever growing numbers to summits that were once rugged “random scoots”. Just as the Marshalls and Herb Clark met the challenges of their day (both Bob and George went on to be powerful voices for wilderness conservation), we struggle to understand and respond to the new challenges: trail erosion, waste and litter, over-crowding, safety and sustainability. Knowing our shared history and our part in it is a sound base for understanding our impact and the course we all should support to preserve this special wilderness and the associated traditions and cultural heritage for future generations.
How all this happened and why is an important, perhaps an essential part of “knowing” the mountains today. You won’t truly “know” a mountain unless you know what it was like in those early years and how it has changed over the last century. History provides the context and foundation that helps us define what we have, what is important, and what we need to do to protect this wilderness for future generations.
The Centennial Edition, the first in a series of updated releases of the original literature that created the 46er experience, was designed with nostalgia in mind with the goal of bringing climbers a link to our shared history. This special release was painstakingly designed to continue the look and aesthetics of the original and includes an explanatory Preface by Suzanne Lance that guides the reader through the history and explains the heritage we all share in climbing the Adirondack 46.
Available at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley, and online from the ADK and Amazon.