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Old 10-18-2004, 06:22 PM   #1
jcmpt
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Unhappy 5 Dix attempt...

After coming in a disappointing 2d in a 5k XC race at saratoga spgs. on sunday, I decided to further punish myself by staying overnight and attempting the Dix traverse today (mind you, my 1st foray into the high peaks). With a forecast of overnight frost but clouds and sun, I thought I was ready to go. I got to the Elk Lk. trailhead at 7am (solo), armed with food, water, internet copies of detailed trail info, the DEC emergency phone #, and a GPS watch (thanks to my gadget guru friend). The hike to slide brook was marshy and downright soaking wet but uneventful. I was pleased to see my herd tr. info to Macomb was precise. What was unplanned, however, was the ice and snow I encountered almost immediately! I forged on, but with every grab of a tree, snow would shake loose onto my entire self (I did have on a waterproof top, but not pants or gloves or hat!!) My cotton gardening gloves-clad hands were frozen solid within a mile. I didn't care and continued on, and I soon sensed I was nearing the open slide to the summit. My apologies to those who follow me, you'll see many crazed footprints all over in the snow; I'm not sure how many paths I was following! My scramble up the rocks was comical, as I had to lie flat on the rocks to keep from slipping down the mountain (lends all new meaning to the word "slide")!! I cursed my boots, as they proved worthless on the ice - I longed for my gripping trail running shoes. I realized at the top there was no way I'd get to the other 4 summits as I was nearing hypothermia, so I pretty much slid down the way I came and ran back to Elk Lk. I considered warming up at the car and at least attempting the red tr. to Dix, but I had no other dry gear with me! Well, at least I'm a 1er (a HARD 1er). I guess it's all downhill from here; no wait, only half the climb is downhill....
2 lessons learned (although I'm sure I'll hear an earful more...)
1. goretex
2. more goretex.
P.S. the GPS was fun to use as an altimeter.
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Old 10-18-2004, 07:06 PM   #2
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Stuff like that has happened and still does to everybody. You had the sense to turn around. Actually, I have a question. Do you think crampons and/or hiking poles would have made a difference?
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Old 10-18-2004, 08:16 PM   #3
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neil,

nah, I don't think so.
the snow was like powdery detergent - too light and fine to get crampons into, and the ice was a film on everything - also too thin to "grab onto" with anything. The nubby rubber things they have out now that you can slip over a pair of boots/ shoes would've done it.
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Old 10-18-2004, 09:11 PM   #4
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JCMPT,
Glad you are hear to talk about it. Like Neil said, I think we all have done something similar over the years - Our appetite for adventure overwhelms our gear and comfort level. It is a very small footstep that separates a return from a casualty.

IMMHO, I do find it a little concerning though that you headed off on trailless peaks without a good map & compass (or am I reading wrongly into your gear list?) but had internet details and a GPS watch and Cell Phone (assuming that since you had the ranger number...) to call someone if you had trouble?

I speak only from experience - My first peak was trailless (seymour) and I did it wearing jeans, nylon windbreaker and freezing wet. I too ended up learning a great deal.

FWIW, There are plenty of folks you can hook up to hike with to work on the rest of your forays into the highpeaks.
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Old 10-18-2004, 11:16 PM   #5
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Gosh, that was risky. It's a tough slide. I should know, having attempted to do all 5 mountains of the Dix Range back in July. You need the long day in the summer time, access to water, and the possibility of other hikers on the mountains to help you should you fall, etc. You were lucky. I went clockwise, going to Dix, first and then to the other four, with Macomb being last. I didn't expect the slide to be so difficult, with the blowdown at the bottom of the slide, but I was glad to get this over with -- I don't think I would have been able to finish the Dix Range anti-clockwise because the slide is a tough one to climb UPHILL, IHMO. After Dix, the other 4 were relatively enjoyable.

Glad you are alive.

My first two were Cascade and Porter, and while I was fine, properly attired, one of my companions almost got hypothermia so we had to skedaddle down the mountains quickly back into the car, this being in mid-June!

Chris, now at 44


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
JCMPT,
Glad you are hear to talk about it. Like Neil said, I think we all have done something similar over the years - Our appetite for adventure overwhelms our gear and comfort level. It is a very small footstep that separates a return from a casualty.

IMMHO, I do find it a little concerning though that you headed off on trailless peaks without a good map & compass (or am I reading wrongly into your gear list?) but had internet details and a GPS watch and Cell Phone (assuming that since you had the ranger number...) to call someone if you had trouble?

I speak only from experience - My first peak was trailless (seymour) and I did it wearing jeans, nylon windbreaker and freezing wet. I too ended up learning a great deal.

FWIW, There are plenty of folks you can hook up to hike with to work on the rest of your forays into the highpeaks.
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Old 10-19-2004, 10:28 AM   #6
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rick and chris,
thanks for the comments.
rick, I did have a compass and map, but my hands were useless!! I'm not sure I could've gotten any of that stuff out!! Lesson learned - take care of hands first!!
chris, I was advised to go in this direction because I'd be returning on an established trail (Dix back to Elk Lk). Do you think it's better the other way?
Yes, I think I'd like the company of someone who knows the terrain (although the internet stuff was really quite precise!!). I got tired of talking and cursing to myself!
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Old 10-19-2004, 11:13 AM   #7
mike1889
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcmpt
chris, I was advised to go in this direction because I'd be returning on an established trail (Dix back to Elk Lk). Do you think it's better the other way?
I think it's better the way you tried it. I too would rather finish the day on Dix and a marked trail rather then descending the Macomb slide when tired. As slides go, the Macomb slide is one of the easier ones and not that steep. Surely is it easier and safer to ascend it. I did the 5 Dixes starting with Macomb on 9/26/04 and it was a spectacular hike.
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Old 10-19-2004, 11:48 AM   #8
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When I climbed most of the Dix range we also started on the Macomb slide. I don't know if climbing down Dix from the beckhorn was any easier than the slide would be at the end of the day, it's pretty steep!
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Old 10-19-2004, 06:12 PM   #9
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Mike,
you were my inspiration for doing this hike based on the trail report you submitted!!
I only wish it were a month earlier for me!
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Old 10-19-2004, 06:18 PM   #10
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Kevin,
I wanted to congratulate you but I forgot in my last reply!
Now I can call on you as a "pro" for future advice!
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Old 10-19-2004, 06:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jcmpt
Kevin,
I wanted to congratulate you but I forgot in my last reply!
Now I can call on you as a "pro" for future advice!
Thanks, but I wouldn't consider myself a pro at anything but being slightly insane (or maybe it's majorly insane). It was certainly an accomplishment, but there's much I haven't learned yet either out of necessity or stupidity...

I certainly share about things I do have some experience with. That experience is mostly limited to the eastern shore of Lake George (where I need to only climb Buck Mtn and I'd have hiked/climbed most of the trails over there) or the High Peaks area. That only accounts for about 10% of the adirondacks.
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