Ed Palen (born 1956) grew up in New Jersey and spent many of his childhood summers in the Adirondacks, including several at Camp Pok-O-Moonshine. That’s where he first fell in love with mountains and hiking, what would become a lifelong passion.
As a teenager, Palen and a friend set speed records for climbing the Adirondack 46 peaks over 4000 feet. In 1972, they did it in seven days, and in 1977 they got their time down to five days.
Palen told Adirondack Life magazine that back when they took on the 46, “it was a fraternal competition,” camp versus camp. “We measured in days, not hours, and you followed the rules of completing the 46”—finishing on the summit of your last mountain. “We were just guys in Keds and torn-up blue jeans.”
Palen then went climbing throughout the world, including several ascents of Denali, and extensive climbing in the Himalayas, South America, and in Europe. He moved to the Adirondacks permanently in 1982, and in 1988 started Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service. Since then, Rock and River, located in Keene, which is also an inn for climbers and other visitors, has become one of the premiere guide services in the Adirondacks. Highly experienced guides such as Don Mellor (author of several rock climbing guide books), and Matt Horner, who is also a Keene sculptor, assist climbers through Rock and River.
Palen is one of new breed of Keene guides, scouting out and helping clients challenge themselves on difficult vertical rock climbing routes rather than searching out the best fishing spots or deer hunting zones.
(Contributed by Matt Dunne. Photos provided by Ed Palen.)