I climbed Middle Palisade for the seventh time yesterday. The day started late, thanks to my supposedly extra loud alarm clock not waking me up.
At the top of the first major climb, I met three guys looking back at Middle Palisade and discussing the route. I stopped to gather some beta. While we were talking, four guys came running up the trail, passed us, and disappeared.
A few minutes furthur up the trail, I met Sabrina, who was visiting from England. We ended up hiking together to the lake west of Finger Lake. She headed down, and I headed for the moraine and Middle Palisade.
I didn’t know where the runners had gone until I met one of them sitting on the moraine near the start of the route. A combination of AMS and fear of falling had cut his day short. His buddies were just climbing out of sight on the Red Banks route. I had read that part of the cliff above the moraine had collapsed, obliterating the route most climbers had used for decades. I was determined to find a way up anyway. Well, after what seemed like a half hour, I found a way to traverse up and left on decent class 4 rock to an easy, low-angle, rotten chimney. The chimney went up and right. I continued up and right until I was on the regular route, roughly where the old route went. It was easy climbing from here, but the other runners appeared to be halfway to the summit already.
Here is where the “fishing” comes in. Fishing, as in “reel them in.” I climbed pretty fast until I had passed two of the runners. I reeled in the remaining runner just below the summit block. He seemed unsure of where the summit block was, so I climbed onto it first. A 70-year-old guy had just beaten four trail runners to the top of Middle Palisade!
I came down through the Red Banks. It was really rotten and unpleasant, but it wasn’t very difficult or dangerous. I was back at the car in just under 13 hours.