AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Falling Ice-Fall on Ice, New York, Adirondacks, Poke-O-Moonshine


New York, Adirondacks, Poke-O-Monshine

Ice on the first pitch of the popular 160-foot climb “Positive Thinking” broke off Poke-O-Moonshine Friday and crashed to the ground, taking an Ontario climber with it.

Kevin Bailey (34) was about 135 feet up and anchoring himself to the east side of the mountain when the ice split and detached. His climbing partner, Jason Kuruc, also of Ontario, stood below with the belay device, waiting to begin his assent. After the crash, Kuruc left the mountain to get help, and returned to assist emergency workers, who attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but could not revive the man.

Eventually, Kuruc was taken to CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh where he was treated for minor injuries and released.


For a majority of the winter, the 85-degree pitch on Poke-O-Moonshine has been stellar for climbing. Ed Palen, a guide for Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service, said more climbers than ever attempted the nearly vertical climb this year, which sits on a giant face of rock about a mile long.

“It looks like in two or three days it went from a lot of good ice climbing to not much at all,” he said, after hearing about the accident Friday evening. Palen said that with the number of climbers and the good conditions, he wasn’t surprised an accident occurred but didn’t expect anything tragic.

“The climb was very safe and good for the past three weeks,” said Palen, who’s guided it a handful of times in the past two weeks, to some clients who’ve been waiting years to get a piece of it. “I’ve never seen more people climbing than this year.”

“We were seeing some scary things this year,” he said. “They heard Positive Thinking was in and everyone was rushing to it.” He said warm, rainy days took a toll on the ice, which streaks down the mountainside, creating four or five different climbs for the year.

“It’s still the most sought after ice-climb in New York State,” Palen said. “People will drive six, eight, ten hours if they hear that it’s in. It’s still considered one of the best climbs and certainly the best-known climb in the Adirondacks. [It’s] something you aim your climbing career for.”

He said color, sound, and ambient air temperature all give clues as to whether a climb is safe or not. But Palen, active in the sport for more than 20 years, said the only way to know is through experience. “There are young climbers with braver attitudes...doing harder things earlier with not quite the experience in judgments,” he said. (Source: From an article by M’chelle Peterson)