Endangered Species: To the Top
2/1/11 – Early in the morning of January 30, New Hampshire climbers Kevin Mahoney and Freddie Wilkinson drove across two states to the Adirondacks in New York and did the second ascent of Endangered Species (NEI5+ M6+ R) at Poke-O-Moonshine. (Watch the climbers in the video below.) Then, with daylight still to burn, they proceeded up a long, hard new pitch to the top of the 500-foot cliff, completing a major Northeast testpiece.
Endangered Species, a significant variation to Jeff Lowe’s classic 1996 route Gorillas in the Mist, was climbed by Matt Horner, Matt McCormick, and Bayard Russell in mid-January, after several attempts.
On Sunday morning, after driving half the night to reach the cliff, Mahoney led the first two pitches of extremely thin and poorly protected ice (M6+ NEI5+) in a single mega-pitch. Wilkinson did the final mixed lead of Endangered Species and then forged a new 50-meter pitch through an overhanging alcove with a hand crack. "It felt like 5.10+ in crampons and gloves," Wilkinson said. Guidebook author Jim Lawyer, after looking at the photos, confirmed this crack was previously unclimbed, summer or winter.
Here’s Wilkinson’s first-person account of the big day, from an email he wrote January 31:
"Kevin’s guided 26 days this January, and he called me up a couple nights ago, told me he had Sunday off, and he wanted to go do Endangered Species. Of course, Poko is 5+ hours’ drive away from where we live in Madison, N.H., but the man needed to feed the rat. Bad. So we did the alpine road-trip start, waking up at 2 a.m. to catch the first ferry of the day across Lake Champlain and arrive at the cliff at 8 a.m.
"Kevin’s energy was really something—fresh out of the gates, he linked the first two thin-ice pitches in one effort with 70-meter ropes. He was so amped, he only stopped to place four pieces on the second pitch. Ballsy, but it’s also important to state Kevin was in total control the whole time–—he’s just that good at thin ice. (To borrow that great quote about Charlie Porter, Mahoney has gotten inside the super-stubby ice screw and is looking out.) I led the next dry tooling pitch, dubbed "the Horner Corner," which brought us to the high point of Endangered as climbed by Bayard and the Matts two weekends ago.
"Above is an intimidating section of roofs guarding the top of the cliff. After Kevin’s inspiring effort linking the first two pitches, I really wanted this lead, so I could feel like I contributed something significant to opening the overall line. Kevin generously let me have the pitch, which continued directly above the Horner Corner to a ledge, then straight up and out an overhanging alcove with a hand crack in the back that’s rated 5.10d as a summer rock route. [Editor's note: At the time he sent his email, Wilkinson believed this crack had been climbed in summer.] Good times! All in all, it was 50 meters to the trees, a direct and full-value finish to a full-value line.
"Many thanks to our buddies Bayard, Matt, and Matt (who certainly would have finished the line this way if they had had more daylight!) for encouraging us to give it a go and providing lots of beta to help."
Date of Ascent: January 30, 2011
Sources: Freddie Wilkinson, Matt Horner, Jim Lawyer, mahoneyalpineadventures.com