For those that aren't familiar with The Precipice it is basically a vertical route up the cliffs on the East face of Champlain Mountain. I knew that there were iron rungs and rails on many of the tough stretches but wasn't sure how much exposure there really was (with nothing to hang on to). For some reason I'm fine with the heights as long as I've got a grip on something - but walking a narrow ledge with a sheer drop isn't so good (as I found out on the much easier Beehive a few years ago).
The lower section of the trail is a quick hike in basically to the base of the cliff. You very quickly come to the first obstacle which is a small ledge with a single rung to get up and a rail to grab over the top. It's quite a stretch and a good test for what's to come. There were actually several people who were ahead of us on the trail that took one look at this and turned around. We pulled ourselves up quite easily - although the ledge was wet and quite slippery on top which was a cause for concern for me. But on and up we go.
There isn't much to say about the rest of the trail. It is basically all straight up across a series of switchbacks up the cliff punctuated by about 100 rungs, railings, ladders, etc that go up the cliff face. The views over Frenchman's Bay start almost immediately and are absolutely spectacular. I had no problem all the way up with the exception of two open ledge traverses that had no handholds. These are like the sections on the Beehive that are a ledge a couple of feet wide with a vertical wall on the left and a sheer drop on the right
In short order we were over the cliff and stopped for lunch before we got to the summit with its crowds from the other easier trails. We had the mountain all to ourselves and it was spectacular! Heading for the summit there was one last set of rungs and then we were on top. After a short time soaking in the views we headed down the Bear Brook and East Face trails back to the road. We've done this descent (Bear Brook anyway) the last two years when we've gone up Champlain from the other side and it is one of the nicest mountain descents anywhere. Continuous vistas over Frenchman's Bay as you wind down the open ridge. Fantastic!
I can't say how glad I am that after all these years I finally convinced myself to do this hike. Perhaps it is one more step to curing the acrophobia. All I know is that I can't wait to get back and do it again! Oh, and the best part - about 1/2 way up Jamie said "man, this is so much fun". Nothing better than that!!!
Jamie stradling the trail (down into that crack)
Rungs and railings
Quite the twisted section
One of the scary stretches with no handholds - but what a view!
Nat and I just hanging out
Shouldn't this be at the bottom?
Beautiful Champlain summit
The road down
A last look back. We hiked this?!?!
Complete album here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman4...15596755531266