Celebrating our Loftiest Peak
by Tony Goodwin in Adirondack Explorer
Mount Marcy has been a prime focus for Adirondack climbers ever since that day in 1837 when William Redfield and company first ascended the peak and acsertained that it was indeed the highest mountain in New York. Since then many pages have been written about Mount Marcy, but until now no one has set out to gather all of the history and lore of this fabled peak into one volume. Sandra Weber has done a prodigious amount of research and succeeded in the even more difficult task of presenting her information in a way that is both carefully documented and highly readable.
Starting with the rock itself, Weber offers just the amount of geology that the layperson is likely to remember and then moves onto a short history of the McIntyre Iron Works and the first ascent of Marcy. Her telling of the first ascent resolves, probably as much as possible, the details of time, route and personnal on that expedition.
Weber documents the many attempts in the 19th century to change the name of Mount Marcy. She makes it clear that the name Tawahus-the most successful alternative-was entirely the work of the English author Charles Fenno Hoffman. But she also explains that the enduring appeal of Tawahus lies partly in the European settlers' desire to pay tribute to the Native Americans whose land they had taken and whose way of life they had destroyed.
In her analysis of the state's management plan for the High Peaks, Weber recognizes that many questions about MArcy's future remain unanswered, especially if use levels continue to rise. She even raises the question, "Should you climb Mount Marcy?" Nevertheless, the overall sense of concluding chapters is that today's hikers are doing far less damage to Marcy's wilderness character than earlier hikers had done. It seems that Marcy will be able to withstand the crowds of hikers into the foreseeable future.
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