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MO: W3: Winter Adirondacks MLK Day Adventure

***This is a revised description.***

We're going to take advantage of MLK Day weekend to do a four-day trip to the ADKs and get some winter peak-bagging credit!

Friday morning, we'll meet up at Grosvenor at 8am, and head north on the tollway, reaching Lake Placid in the afternoon.  We'll be driving this route, so sadly, there will be no luxurious meals at Lake Placid.  We'll get as close to Elk Lake as we can, but the latest intelligence suggests that will be the gate at Clear Pond.  We should be able to be ready to walk in at about sunset.

Then follows about 4.3 miles of snow-shoeing in to reach our base camp.  I'm going to recommend snow shoes and not skis because I think the snow shoes will be handy on Saturday and Sunday, while the skis will not be (terrain is too vertical).  If you bring skis, you may need the shoes too.

We'll have a full moon for these miles, so it could be quite beautiful.  We'll reach the designated campsite and shelter at the base of the Macomb slide, and pitch for the night.

Saturday, we'll wake and be climbing at dawn for Macomb.  This climb could be quite tough, but from Macomb's summit, it is supposed to be a fairly easy walk on herd paths to get South Dix and East Dix.  Triumphant, we'll return to base camp.

Sunday, we'll climb for Dix via the Beckhorn, then backtrack for Hough.  If somehow, we conclude that Macomb is un-climbable, for us, via the slide, we can work our way along this ridge to get it.

Obviously, we'll be thinking about and discussing the best routes until we do them.

My gut instinct tells me that we'll have two full days of light mountaineering to get these five peaks.  If we did manage to get them fast, we'd go to do another route on Sunday-Monday, maybe Giant-Rocky Ridge Peak (which I walked in July).

So, snow shoes are REQUIRED.  The DEC is saying that crampons are needed on the summits.  I will be reading trip reports to see if people are summitting in micro-spikes or snow shoes.  If people have true crampons, bring them. Same for ice axes.  I have both, as well as a new pair of mountaineering boots to try out.

If you do not own crampons, real ones, it might be time to ask around to borrow a pair.

The average temperature in Lake Placid on 1/17 is a high of 27* and a low of 5*.  In the mountains we will very likely be facing temps below zero.  You will need to have gear that you feel confident with in these temperatures.

U-Turn


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  • Daniel

    The views on Saturday were grand-- classic Adirondacks panorama under partly sunny skies. Sunday, though, was even better: windy, snow-swept summmits with white mountains and clouds all around. It doesn't get too much better on a weekend trip from DC! Thanks to everyone for the good company and to Michael for organizing. I learned from others and overcame some fear of the mountains in winter. Most of all, the Adirondacks inspired yet again. This is another one I'll always remember.

    1 · January 21, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Peter, when you get a chance, could you link me to that map you had? I'm not seeing it at the ADK store.

    January 21, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Thanks to everyone for making this awesome adventure happen! Special thanks to Dave and Peter for lending us their mountaineering and winter camping expertise (not to mention their stoves!). Overall, a great weekend! We'll be talking about this one for years to come ... and winter credit on four 46ers (Dix, Hough, South Dix, and East Dix) ain't bad either!

    1 · January 21, 2014

  • upasana

    Thanks Michael for taking me along with you all. It was an amazing trip.

    January 20, 2014

  • Darwin

    Arrrggg....something very last minute came out, I can't make now, don't wait for me, sorry guy's.

    January 16, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Things I'm excited about:

    * Walking around Elk Lake in the moonlight!

    * The possibility of camping up high at Mary Louise Pond!

    * Winter credit on 7 46ers and 5 new 46ers, bringing my total to 23, or half!

    OK, I'll go back to compressing my sleeping bag!

    U-Turn

    1 · January 16, 2014

    • Jimmy

      Sigh.....

      January 16, 2014

    • Michael M.

      Yeah, I did lighten my load, going with a lighter sleeping bag, etc. The Dana Design pack is not going. We'll see how it goes.

      January 16, 2014

  • upasana

    I got everything other than ice axe. If anybody has a spare one, please bring. Thanks

    January 15, 2014

    • Darwin

      I will bring 1 for you.

      January 15, 2014

    • upasana

      Thanks Darwin!

      January 16, 2014

  • Michael M.

    With Jimmy out, we have eight people and two cars. Does anyone else have a car they can drive?

    If not, Peter has a rack we can stow some packs in, which will make it work. However, it is imperative that you bring as little as possible to the trip in the way of extra stuff. There simply will be very little room if we cannot add a third car.

    January 15, 2014

  • Jimmy

    Hey guys, unfortunately, I will not be going on this trip as I hit a 100 deg fever last night. I don't think I'll recover in time for this trip on Fri. I was looking forward to this so much I think i'm going to cry now. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable trip as the ADK in the dead of January is a sight to see!

    January 15, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Just a friendly reminder that, if you're a member, your $10 dues for 2014 should be paid!!

    January 14, 2014

  • Michael M.

    I hope everyone driving has an EZ pass. I plan to take the tollways.

    2 · January 13, 2014

  • Daniel

    I guess we should each bring/wear hunter orange (from the NY DEC site):

    Hunting Seasons: Hunting seasons remain open for small game. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms on trails. Please recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to participate in these activities on the Forest Preserve. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. (1/10)

    January 12, 2014

  • Dave

    I added a homegrown anti-balling system to my crampons. http://tinypic.com/r/291pdtw/5

    1 · January 10, 2014

    • Jimmy

      Nicely done.

      January 10, 2014

  • Mike K.

    Hey! Does anyone have any or all of the following that I could borrow for the weekend? Or, do you know anyone in the group that may be willing to loan? Thanks.

    1. Ice axe
    2. Crampons

    December 30, 2013

    • Peter J.

      Gotcha, I'll look forward to meeting you further down the trail...

      1 · January 9, 2014

    • Peter J.

      Sure Vince.

      January 9, 2014

  • Daniel

    Ice axe advice? Particularly w/ re: to length. Black Diamond makes a lightweight basic model (Raven Pro) in 60, 65, and 70 cm sizes. Not sure which'd be best (I'm 5'6").

    January 7, 2014

    • Joffrey P.

      Heavy D: There is typically a hole in the adze to cut weight. It is called the 'adze-hole'. They are typically sized just a hair too small to open bottles. The guy who made this design choice was an 'ass-hole'.

      1 · January 7, 2014

    • Daniel

      Duly noted...

      January 8, 2014

  • Mike K.

    Michael Martin, thanks for answering my questions as I pondered. See you this weekend.

    January 8, 2014

  • Mike K.

    Hi everyone. Sorry that I have to miss out. I was out of country most of December and don't feel adequately prepared. Have fun!

    January 8, 2014

  • Michael M.

    I meant Sunday 1/12 for the gear list.

    January 7, 2014

  • Michael M.

    We should be monitoring the following site ... As of 12/23, they're now saying that snow shoes or skis won't work well: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9198.html

    December 26, 2013

    • Michael M.

      You have a social life? For shame!

      January 6, 2014

    • Joffrey P.

      Well, picking up the pieces, I guess...

      January 6, 2014

  • Dave

    I decided to get a pair of these (http://www.sunnysports.com/p-snshc6/hillsound-cypress-6?ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=SNSHC6) to use instead of micro spikes. If I am in conditions that require the Hillsound Trail Crampon Pro, I will use my full blown crampons.

    January 3, 2014

    • Dave

      I looked at the Pros but they only had the X-large for $54 which is too big for my boot size.

      January 3, 2014

    • Dave

      Also, I already have a regular set of crampons so the decision to go with the more minimal traction device made sense. The Pros are a better choice if you are looking for a traction device to handle a wider range of conditions.

      January 3, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Everyone might do well to watch a video course like this:

    http://youtu.be/NQ_WsqrP6us

    And the dude has a cool Scottish accent.

    Note that with the Hillsounds, you can probably do a little front-pointing, which is not possible with the micro-spikes.

    January 3, 2014

  • Dave

    I would like to chime in on the crampons versus traction device discussion. In my opinion, on steep hard ice, traction devices that attach to the boot in the same manner as Kahtoola MICROspikes don't really cut it. There is too much risk that the boot will rotate within the traction device such that it comes out of the device or traction is lost and the foot slips out from under the wearer. On steep hard ice, this can be disastrous. If the DEC trail information page for the high peaks indicates crampons are required, I believe we should all have them.

    January 2, 2014

    • Michael M.

      We are mainly off trail in the Dix Wilderness, though, for the record. ;)

      January 2, 2014

    • Joffrey P.

      Haha, okay. Still - leave the ropes at home :)

      January 2, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Does somebody have a snow shovel in their kit? If not, I will acquire one.

    January 2, 2014

    • Peter J.

      Dave and I have avalanche shovels.

      January 2, 2014

  • Michael M.

    Actually, I'm seeing two trips for the Dix range (http://adkhighpeaks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23508), both of which report completing all five peaks from the Elk Lake side in just over 10 hours. Given that the day-hikers are starting from Clear Pond, whereas we'll be starting at the base of the climb at dawn, we really should be able to get all five in a day. It follows, then, that we'll be relocating Sunday to Giant's Washbowl to attempt Giant and Rocky Ridge Peak. Getting seven winter 46ers in a weekend would be good work, I think.

    2 · January 1, 2014

    • Michael M.

      This GPX file basically shows the out and back route we'd do on Saturday along the conventional route. It is vaguely about 11-12 miles on Saturday, and 20 miles from car to car from Clear Pond. Obviously, well within our range, even if the miles are tough (http://files.meetup.c...­).

      January 1, 2014

    • Michael M.

      Perhaps, though, if we climbed the slide, we could do out and back to South and East Dix, then Hough and Dix, descend via the trail (which others would have surely broken for us by the afternoon). That is an aesthetically more appealing route, shorter, and I hate not climbing the slide. If conditions are good, we should do it that way.

      January 1, 2014

  • Michael M.

    On a whim, I did check the average temps in Langtang, Nepal, (where I took Fancy Pants tea house trekking in late November 2012), and my hunch was right ... Lake Placid is colder, on average, by about 10* degrees in January. Of course, high altitude affects that, but it's worth remembering that Nepal is about at the latitude of South Carolina, so if you're not up quite high, it is a tropical country. ;) We were up at about 14k and, though it was chilly in the mornings, by mid morning it would be well above freezing, even that high.

    December 31, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Whoops, just checked. The highest we got on that trip was just over 13k, and we slept at 3,475m, or 11,400f.

      December 31, 2013

    • Jimmy

      Just had to look that up didnt you. Haha.

      December 31, 2013

  • Michael M.

    So, let's just say the forecast is for a low of -14* ... I'd like everyone to post what gear they will bring to stay warm in such conditions. For me, the following seem likely:

    * Hilleberg Nallo GT 2, 4-season tent.
    * WM -25* Puma with GWS shell (never yet used this).
    * WM VBL liner (experimenting with this).
    * Exped Downmat or Thermarest Xtherm.
    * A foam pad as well, for insurance and use around camp.
    * Full down layers including parka, puffy pants, and booties.

    I'll try to get a full gear list up soonishly. MM

    December 27, 2013

    • Jimmy

      Just finished tabulating all the gear for my base weight... 31.44lbs, yeesh.

      December 30, 2013

    • Peter J.

      Sooo... I'd still be interested to see what folks will be packing on this trip...
      I'm around 39 pounds on my back, and about 11 pounds on me (including boots and crampons). I've looked over what I'm carrying and can't figure where I could cut much weight.

      December 31, 2013

  • Michael M.

    12/30 trip report (http://adkhighpeaks.com/forums/showthread.php?s=81982d62f9469774d5fc7d8439d01b92&t=23555) discusses snow shoes and 4-6" of new snow. So maybe Yeti had more than mud. The writer used snow shoes.

    1 · December 31, 2013

    • Michael M.

      And this what the Sewards look like ... http://adkhighpeaks.c...­ ... They used crampons. People definitely should be considering their traction device situation carefully in the coming weeks. MM

      December 31, 2013

  • Michael M.

    This is how a real ULer spends the night (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/events/150483972/). Or this (http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/photos/18522422/306260592/). Perhaps I will bring my tarp, after all. :) Tarp + bivy + -25* bag + VBL hot sack = good winter fun.

    Incidentally, we should soon be hearing the results of Yeti's attempt on the Sewards. My guess is that it will be entertaining. It has been cold up there.

    1 · December 30, 2013

  • Jimmy

    Out of curiosity, who is able to drive for this trip?

    December 26, 2013

    • Jimmy

      Looks to be so.

      December 30, 2013

    • Jimmy

      I can seat 4

      December 30, 2013

  • Darwin

    I did realize this long ago, NO WAY this will be a classic UL trip, switch from my 35l. to 65l. and still have gear that don't fit inside.
    You may see me carring my bear cannister like the saint bernards dogs carry their barrel in the old Alps movies.

    December 29, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Haha, that's quite an image! But one bit of good news: bear canisters are not required this time of year. So you can leave that piece of heavy gear at home.

      December 30, 2013

  • Mike K.

    I may be able to make this if a spot opens up. Please keep me in mind. Thanks.

    December 29, 2013

    • Michael M.

      I think the odds of a spot opening up are good. Do you have the gear you'd need for this? It will be cold. I'd love for you to come!

      December 29, 2013

  • Michael M.

    So Peter and Dave have generously agreed to let their white gas stoves do the boiling of water for our group. That means everyone else can leave their stoves at home. We'll distribute fuel bottles for everyone (except Dave and Peter) to carry. This is a little more expedition-style than usual, but appropriate for the circumstances.

    December 23, 2013

    • Dave

      Since we are establishing a base camp and doing day hikes from it, I think it will be fine to carry one of the gallon Coleman fuel containers along with filled stove fuel containers that are possessed amongst the group. Peter and I have some of these and it sounds like Darwin does as well. We just need to identify who will be buying the fuel and transporting it to the trailhead. I have a Gandar Mountain store just down the street and can pick up two gallons of fuel. As long as nobody else has already purchased fuel, I will do so. I will purchase the fuel tomorrow if nobody comments otherwise between now and then.

      December 26, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Let me know what the cost is, and I will reimburse you and collect money from the people on the trip.

      December 26, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Oh yeah ... I've been in bed with the flu this week (Laura has had a fever for six days), so I did not get to drive up to New York. We'll be headed to the trail head without a reconnaissance trip. Oh well ...

    December 26, 2013

  • Michael M.

    FYI ... If conditions aren't as tough as I imagine and we knock out all five of the Dix Range 46ers on Saturday (I guess it could happen), here's the plan. Early on Sunday, we'll snowshoe back to the cars, enjoy a quick breakfast at the Noonmark Diner, then park at the trailhead for Giant. Climb into the designated campsites at Giant's Washbowl (a gobsmackingly beautiful place), set up camp, then climb for the summits of Giant and (maybe) Rocky Ridge Peak. It would be very easy to return to the cars early Monday, and roll. Never say never.

    1 · December 23, 2013

  • Peter J.

    This link may be of interest, it is the student handbook for the ADK Winter Mountaineering School which is specifically geared towards the type of trip we are doing here. I would agree with them that mountaineering boots are highly desirable. Those without could look into renting at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley.
    http://www.winterschool.org/WMS%20Student%20Handbook.pdf

    December 22, 2013

    • Peter J.

      I have a pair of leather Lowa Mountain Experts as well as a pair of Lowa plastic boots. I plan to wear the Plastics because I do tend to have cold feet, not so much when I'm moving but as soon as I stop.
      I'm sure that insulated leather mountaineering boots would be fine, especially if you're using VBLs to keep your socks dry. My biggest concern would be trying to use un-insulated boots.

      December 22, 2013

    • Peter J.

      BTW, I was having big problems with my plastic boots but a pair of Intuition liners solved everything

      December 23, 2013

  • Dave

    Are we driving back Sunday afternoon/evening? I have to fly to Denver on a business trip on Monday. I don't know yet what my flight departure time is since I have to coordinate it with others going on the same trip, but I suspect it will be sometime Monday afternoon. I am fine with going straight to the airport upon arrival back in the DC area though. I just need to know if it is reasonable to anticipate our arrival back in the DC area by Monday morning sometime.

    December 20, 2013

    • Peter J.

      Id be down with making that happen. We can work on the details...

      December 22, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Getting started early is not a problem.

      December 22, 2013

  • Darwin

    Well, looks like my new gear addition is about to get his test after all.

    1 · December 21, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Dix Mountain Wilderness:

    *Snow and ice are present at all elevations. Snow is a foot deep from trailheads to 3000 feet. Above 3000 feet snow is 18 inches to 2 feet deep. Snow is uncolsolidated powder. (12/19)

    *Snowshoes or skis should be used at this time. The use of snowshoes or skis eases travel through snow, avoids injury and prevents "post-holing", which ruins the trails for others and makes them dangerous to traverse. (12/19)

    *Crampons should be carried for use on icy summits and other open areas where ice has built up on exposed bedrock.(12/19)

    *The trail through the Elk Lake Easement Lands is open but the Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed. The parking lot a Clear Pond is two miles from the trailhead, adding four miles to a round trip. (12/19)

    These are the relevant points. MM

    December 21, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Yes, the gate at Elk Lake is closed. So long as we continue to approach the Dix range from that side, this fact will add about 2 miles to walk in, and 2 miles to our walk out.

    Did I say walk? Nope. Snow shoes or XC skis will be required for this. There will be much more than the requisite 8" needed to require skis or snow shoes in the ADKs.

    So plan accordingly.

    December 21, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Supposing I can figure out how the XC skis work, I'm going to ski in to the shelters around Elk Lake next week. I'll be able to scope out the trailhead, so we're not doing this totally blind.

    December 19, 2013

    • Peter J.

      Cool, I've been wondering if Elk Lake Road is open in the winter. Nat Geo shows parking at Elk Lake, but it also shows a gate at Clear Pond.

      December 19, 2013

    • Michael M.

      I have been wondering the same thing. I'll have an answer next week. We can always approach from the other side, if we need to, though I don't believe there are any shelters. FWIW, my car is really not suitable for off road travel on snowbound roads, so the trailhead needs to be fairly accessible.

      December 19, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Peter .. I guess you deleted that weight thread? Well, I'm going to have to assemble my "below zero degree" gear list. It won't be UL, for sure, but I don't think it will add up to 60# ... 60# was your "skin out" weight?

    November 28, 2013

    • Peter J.

      I'm at 55# or so, could hit 60 skin out. That's including a two person tent and cook gear.

      November 29, 2013

  • Darwin

    Will like to have a better idea of the peaks we will hit this time, not that winter scare at all but want to expand my 46 list so for now I stay a "maybe"

    November 25, 2013

    • Michael M.

      If we go to the Dix Range, the peaks are Dix, East Dix, Macomb, Hough, and South Dix. All five would be new for me ... I'm sorry if some people already have them ...

      November 25, 2013

    • Peter J.

      I've done Dix in the winter but approached from the Boquet River Shelter side.

      November 25, 2013

  • Jimmy

    Although I absolutely love Algonquin and Wright Peak (the most intense hiking experiences of my life were held here) maybe a change of location would be nice. Have never done the Dix range in the winter...

    November 22, 2013

    • Jimmy

      Great! Just for route planning purposes, we are hiking Sat, Sun, and hike out on Mon correct? That's so cool that you are spending the holidays in the ADKs. I can't think of a better place to spend em in. If you are interested in any downhill skiing, I suggest Whiteface. There is also a gondola ride you can take up to the top just to see the views I believe.

      November 25, 2013

    • Michael M.

      That's right. I'm struggling with whether we should plan to hike in Friday night. Not sure. It's nice to have that meal in town. Yeah, I've got it scheduled so that I have four full days of winter sports up there at Xmas. Mainly XC skiing, but perhap some other things, too.

      November 25, 2013

  • Joffrey P.

    Hmm... perhaps...

    November 22, 2013

  • Jimmy

    Done, and done. I'd like to co lead this with you if you don't mind.

    November 18, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Of course, Jimmy. The little debate I'm having with myself is whether I want to take a few days off work and stay up there a little longer. Either way, there will be an option for people to do just a 4-day weekend, or stay longer, if I decide to do so.

      November 19, 2013

  • Joe D.

    I'm definitely interested and my wife would be too. We do need to get VMO status though

    November 16, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Cool, Joe! Get out with us, and we'll make it happen.

      November 18, 2013

7 went

  • Michael M.
    Veteran Plus Member (3-2!@ - 46er) (B-VI) (WFA) (U-Turn) ('16), Organizer
    Event Host
  • Matt R.
    Member
  • Peter J.
    VETERAN MEMBER (WFR) ('15)
  • Daniel
    Veteran Plus Member (3!) (Heavy D) (16), Assistant Organizer
  • Dave
    Veteran Member (2) ('15), Assistant Organizer
  • upasana
    Veteran Plus Member (3!)(UPS)
  • A former member

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