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Roaring Brook Falls, Cleaning Gear

Roaring Brook Falls, Vintage Adirondack Ice Climb

I’m using our stint without a camera cable to dig waaay back into our archives and write up some posts about past adventures. So here goes…

Dave is a lucky duck in that his birthday falls on or around President’s Day, which means we can usually roll it into a long weekend to celebrate. Most often, these birthday weekends involve lots of out of shape ice climbing and/or winter hikes, overindulgence in food and drink, and a jacuzzi tub to ease the muscle pains and hangover symptoms. It’s a good time.

The birthday tradition started back in February 2005 when we took our first winter trip to the Adirondacks together. I had never been to Lake Placid in the winter months, which seemed like a crime, given its rich Olympic history and all of the fun cold weather activities it has to offer. Specifically, Dave was eager to get in some ice climbing, and though I had never been ice climbing myself, I was game to try. Since we were (and still are) pretty noob-ish at this ice climbing business, we booked a local guide to take us out and, literally, show us the ropes.

Given our very limited experience, we assumed we’d be in for a day of top-roping – which would have suited us just fine. So we were surprised – and pretty psyched – when our guide told us that he had a nice little multi-pitch in mind for us. Off we set for Roaring Brook Falls. As we headed back towards Keene Valley, we soon realized we were going to climb the same waterfall we admired every summer as we drove into town from the Northway. Only now it was frozen solid. Very cool.

Roaring Brook Falls in winter

The hike to the base was less than half a mile, which is not a whole lot of time to mentally prepare, if you ask me. But it was quick and easy and didn’t tire us out before we got to the good stuff.

Many of the details of the climb are lost to me, since it was 5 years ago, but what I do remember is very clear. The swirling snow at the top of the falls as the wind kicked up; the methodical ‘tink, tink, thunk’ of our ice axes; the horror of experiencing the screaming barfies for the first time; and the pure jubilation of topping out on my first ice climb.

Looking for the last move…


It was a memorable climb, to be sure, and a great introduction to ADK winters for me. Now that we live just a few minutes away, Roaring Brook Falls has become our “go to” for a quick outdoor fix.

Where: The Adirondack Park, near Keene Valley

Directions from Lake Placid: Take Rt. 73 south. The trailhead is a ways past the center of Keene Valley and is on the left side of the road before you hit the Roaring Brook lookout – if you pass views of the falls from the road (on your left), you have gone too far. It is a quick turn off, and kind of narrow, so watch for a sign that says “Giant Mt, Roaring Brook”

Summary: A 3 pitch, WI3+ rated climb (for more on waterfall ice grades, see HERE) that is generally considered one of the finest climbs at this level in the Northeast. An easy approach, and descent, with nice views throughout the climb back over the valley.

Gear Used

Related Reading

Additional Photos

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Roaring Brook Falls Wind

Snow fall from above

Roaring Brook Falls First Pitch

First Pitch

Roaring Brook Falls, Cleaning Gear

Removing protection on first pitch

Roaring Brook Falls Second Pitch

Second Pitch

Roaring Brook Falls Third Pitch

Third Pitch

Roaring Brook Falls Water

It’s not all frozen

Roaring Brook Falls Anchor

Third pitch anchor

Roaring Brook Falls Dave

Dave on belay

Roaring Brook Falls Jess

Jess at second anchor


  1. Bridget

    This is gorgeous. It is one of my favorite summer hikes and makes me want to try my hand. What guide do you use??

    • Jessica

      Hi Bridget – We usually go through EMS in Lake Placid when we go out with a guide. They’re pretty easy to book in advance and we’ve always had good experiences with them. We’ve had a guy named Mike take us out a couple of times on both rock and ice. He’s a super nice guy. Not sure if he’s still there, but it’s worth an ask. Roaring Brook is such a great intro ice climb. It really gives you the full experience. Definitely go for it!

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