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Old 01-02-2017, 03:49 PM   #1
Agripasbg
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Winter peaks for beginners

Hi All,

Planning a hike in the Adirondacks for this coming Sunday (1/8/16)
I hike quite often but im relatively new to the Adirondacks
I did cascade twice, once in the summer and once in this winter.
Any suggestions for the next one in terms of difficulty and views?

Regarding gear, besides the usual necessities and plenty of layers, i have micro spikes and snowshoes. Do i need a ice axe or crampons?

Thanks!
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Old 01-02-2017, 04:30 PM   #2
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Early winter weather includes rain and freeze-thaw cycles so it's difficult to accurately predict conditions for January 8th. Weather forecast is calling for freezing rain in Lake Placid on Tuesday. That's likely to create messy trail conditions below 2500 feet, turning to icy conditions as you ascend to wet snow at higher elevations. In other words, a mixed bag of everything. Or maybe it'll all fall as wet snow above 2500 feet! Upshot is to be prepared for varied conditions as opposed to what you'll see later in winter, namely snowshoe-worthy trails from car to summit.

If you're new to winter hiking, I do not recommend venturing to a peak with an alpine zone. That means avoiding completely barren summits like Haystack, Marcy, Algonquin, and Wright. If you are in the alpine zone and only know how to navigate visually, you run the risk of losing your way when the clouds (or a snowstorm) obscure the summit. This can happen at any time of the year but in winter the consequences are severe.

With near-zero visibility and no ability to navigate using map & compass (or GPS), you'll have no visible landmarks to help you descend the trail. Here's what I mean (and it gets worse than this):



Here's a recent Trip Report describing the navigational challenge of successfully exiting from a socked-in alpine summit.

If you are hell-bent on visiting a peak with an alpine summit (not that you gave any indication that you are), then head to Whiteface. It has man-made structures on its summit (meteorological station, platforms, binocular stations, etc) and the "tourist trail", leading from the uppermost parking lot to the summit, is lined with metal handrails.

Seeing that you don't want to repeat Cascade in winter, try Phelps. Despite having a wooded summit, it has a large exposed area offering an excellent view. If you want more challenge, head to Colden via the L. Morgan Porter Trail (the Mount Colden Trail, ascending from Lake Colden, is very steep). It will expose you to some barren terrain on its summit but nothing like the aforementioned peaks.


View from Phelps.
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Last edited by Trail Boss; 01-02-2017 at 05:43 PM..
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:01 PM   #3
Agripasbg
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Thanks!
I often hike in the Catskills in the winter, but I got freaked out with the recent Algonquin incident...

I'm thinking of doing Phelps because I want to familiarize myself with the trails next to the ADk loj and it's more or less the same elevation gain as Cascade.

Is Phelps harder then Cascade?
I have microspikes and MSR Revo explorer snowshoes, is this enough or I need crampons?

I'm not hell-bent on doing a peak with an alpine summit; I'm looking for a hike with good views (assuming the weather cooperates) in the ADk Loj area and that will prep me for doing Algonquin later this winter.
(I did Mt Jo three times already

Thanks again!
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Old 01-04-2017, 08:14 AM   #4
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I am a rookie but climbed Phelps in Nov with wintery conditions last year. My avatar photo is from that trip, blue-jay day with a frost covered trail and light snow. Beautiful hike. We actually climbed through the cloud cover - going from overcast, to foggy/cloudy to bright sun with peaks poking through clouds.

Just did Lake Rd plus a bit of the Weld trail with MSR snow shoes and found them much more maneuverable than my larger Atlas ones. I too was intimidated by the Algonquin report. Let's not say "intimidated", but it had me make sure I took along some basic skills and equipment. For us, the most important piece of gear can be a watch - we agree on a turn back time prior to setting out.

Things I changed for my first winter high peak hike:
  • We carry space blankets but Santa brought me an SOL Escape Lite breathable bivvy. To bad for Santa, it is now heavily discounted on Massdrop. I usually carry space blankets and kept those.
  • I added a whistle. Should actually have one each. Very simple, yet powerful.
  • We carry two compasses, but this trip when daughter asked 'what mountain is that' we used it as an impromptu training on map & compass. By end of trip she had it. Shame on me for not teaching her sooner.
  • Spare hat, and mittens. Actual hats. I also carry a winter buff and fleece gaiter that serves as a hat/neck warmer/face mask. I find in cold hikes I am constantly changing head gear (ex when I stop hat goes on).
  • I carried my Sawyer filter in an inside pocket. But I have learned that is not the best water treatment device in the winter. Water is tricky - creeks were partially frozen over and you have to search out how to get to the water dealing with snow covered rocks and thin rim ice.
  • Stove, fuel and food. We stopped half way for hot food & beverages. My small trangia seemed big for this, will rethink that.
  • Carried extra insulation. Down wins here.

This is not advice, just a newbie sharing some info on what I think I did right. Happy to share what I think I did wrong to!
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Old 01-04-2017, 11:56 AM   #5
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@Agripasbg
Phelps is farther than Cascade. You walk ~3 miles to the junction and then ascend ~1300 feet over a mile to its summit. This final mile will feel much steeper than the trail to Cascade. Other than that, no, it's not necessarily harder, just a bit different.
http://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.15...2952&z=16&b=oo

@tenderfoot
Good stuff there!

Add a few plastic bags (big enough for your feet) in the event your boots get wet:
http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...858#post470858
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:09 AM   #6
Agripasbg
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Wil try phelps on Monday and see how it goes.
Thanks @trailboss for all the info and the plastic bag idea

@tenderfoot
Thanks for your input, biased on your input I got myself a SOL emergency shelter and escape bivvy

Hope I don't need any of it but will definitely add some weight and peace of mind
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Old 01-09-2017, 11:46 AM   #7
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I plan on using mine to extend the comfort range of my sleeping bag, and also put it in the car kit as an added safety measure.
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