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Karen and R.L. Stolz met over a shared interest in climbing as members of the Syracuse University Outing Club. Their guiding career began a few years later, in 1982 when they started a rock-climbing school in Pennsylvania. Still, it took waiting out a storm on New Zealand’s famed Mount Cook to inspire them to make a move to Keene and establish Adirondack Alpine Adventures (now Alpine Adventures) in 1985.


As a woman in a profession that once belonged exclusively to men -- usually with moustaches -- Karen was an Adirondack trail-breaker, climbing dangerous routes and leading expeditions.


Keene proved to be an ideal base for the Stolzes to introduce people to both ice and rock climbing, back county skiing, mountaineering, and guiding over 150 climbing and skiing adventures the world over. Some fishing, but no deer hunting.  During their 35 years of leading expeditions, providing comprehensive instruction, and introducing a wide variety of people to the joy of hanging by their fingertips, they made deep friendships with those they served and came to know in the hamlet.


Karen, an accomplished gourmet cook, yoga instructor, and R.L., a mean Jazz musician, connected with their clients and community in many ways as they raised their son Kevin, now a professional musician performing and teaching in Toronto. Another shared skill was photography and writing, which led to establishing Vertical Perspectives Photography, opening the Alpenhaus Gallery in the Keene hamlet, and their first book in 2014, Classic Adirondack Climbs.



Realizing that they could not guide forever, Karen and RL shifted the business, reducing their guiding trips while increasing time spent documenting the sports and mountains they loved and knew so well. Throughout their life and work together, they early on agreed to an intentional, open, and deep partnership in all aspects, which in early 2021, with Karen’s diagnosis of stage-four pancreatic cancer, included involving their friends in her passing. 


(Contributed by Naj Wikoff)

Photos, RL Stolz)

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