Learning the Ropes: ADC Adventure Club Goes Rock Climbing and Whiskey Tasting

It has been one year since ADC created the Adventure Club, a monthly expedition where ADC members break away from the confines of their computers, their offices, and even from the city itself, to network and socialize in nature. Over the past year, ADC members have done everything from hiking to skiing, from canoeing to whitewater rafting, from a midnight fireside chat and sleeping under a star-filled sky to a Pantone scavenger hunt-slash-wine tasting.

While some of these weekend adventures certainly raised a few heart rates and got us using muscles that normally lay dormant during our day jobs, a few weekends ago the ADC Adventure Club embarked on what may have been our most grueling adventure to date: rock climbing along the Shawangunk Ridge.

Our motley band of designers, art directors, motion artists and producers gathered at the ADC Gallery bright and early on what was shaping up to be a beautiful Saturday: mild temperatures, sunny skies, low humidity and not a drop of rain in the forecast. It was perfect weather for this particular trip, which was very fortunate considering that nearly all of us were complete neophytes when it came to rock climbing. We had one accomplished climber in our crew, while the rest of us had at most tried out the climbing wall at the local gym. Luckily we weren’t going at this alone, as Dan, our friendly guide from Discover Outdoors, soon arrived to transport us all out of the Big Apple and up the Hudson Valley.

Shawangunk Ridge, affectionately known as “The Gunks”, is considered to be one of the best rock climbing regions in North America, with areas suitable for just about every level of climber. Since most of our crew had never done this before, we weren’t going to be attempting too daunting, but we still made our way to a pair of 5.8 graded 70-foot climbs. With harnesses and helmets strapped on, we gingerly stepped up to the sheer cliff walls. These were to be top rope climbs, with our harnesses attached to ropes that are threaded to an anchor point high above, then ran back down to the ground where other guides would act as belayers. The ropes were only in place in the event of a fall; beyond that, we were climbing completely on the strength of our arms and legs. Our fingers and toes all got the workout of a lifetime, desperately searching for cracks and crevices that we could use to pull our bodies up just a few more inches. While not all of us were able to reach the top of the anchor points, we all managed to reach at least 20 feet off the ground. With the help of our belayers, we would then walk back down the cliff, almost perpendicular to the walls. And after a rest to soothe aching fingers and clean up scraped elbows, we were ready to do it again!

In the afternoon, the ADC Adventure Clubbers got to try another fun activity: rappelling down a 120-foot cliff. Leaving our gear at the base, we took a long walk around an old carriage road and some hiking trails that eventually lead to the top of the cliff. One by one, we harnessed up, turned around and leaned backwards into the abyss. Slowly but surely, we walked and hopped backwards, threading the rope through our harnesses. The final 30 feet of the rappel took us away from the cliff wall, meaning that the last leg of our descent would be made entirely with our hands on the rope, dangling in midair.

After a day of hanging off of cliffs and sensing bodily harm nearly every step of the way, nerves definitely needed to be soothed. Fortunately the next part of this ADC Adventure Club trip led us on a short trip to Gardiner, NY and the Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery for a tour and whiskey tasting. ADC has been championing art and craft for more than ninety years, and we could really appreciate the story of this distillery as told by founder Ralph Erenzo. From the rye to the locally grown corn, from the barrels to the bottles, this was a most intriguing end to an eventful day.

The Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey didn’t hurt either.

The ADC Adventure Club has been a fantastic way to escape the city and make new friends in our creative fields. We hope you’ll join us as we announce the Fall/Winter line-up of adventures soon!