View Full Version : Algonquin 12-30
Julie, Pete (Hickey) Dominic and I had a lot of fun today answering the question, "Why". While waiting for more here's a quick sample (http://neil.webcentre.ca/outdoor%20pursuits/mac/index.html) of our answer.
12-31-2005, 04:22 AM
All Right!! :bang: :bang: I'm Jealous! :)
12-31-2005, 08:38 AM
A couple more pictures here:
I think I got the right ones there.
I put up some more pics (http://neil.webcentre.ca/outdoor%20pursuits/index.html) here.
Good thing your zoom wasn't working Pete.
What a splendid day!
12-31-2005, 10:18 AM
Twas beautiful up there!
12-31-2005, 12:35 PM
Neil and Pete-
Those pictures are amazing! I especially like the summit ones with the sun looking so ominous behind the clouds. Who says you need views to make a summit trip worthwhile?!
I've yet to do a winter peak, but man am I itching to get up there and give it a go!
12-31-2005, 05:36 PM
Looks like you earned those... nice weather
I loved the pictures and I too am jealous as next week is the first time I am getting out since mid November
12-31-2005, 06:14 PM
Wow, those pictures are incredible...a little intimidating to me...totally different than the catskill winter hikes i've been on....question....I noticed the ice ax pictures....do u hit the ground or rocks when using it or is the snow and ice so deep and packed that's what you are bashing into?
12-31-2005, 07:25 PM
.I noticed the ice ax pictures....do u hit the ground or rocks when using it or is the snow and ice so deep and packed that's what you are bashing into?
Yes to all of them. The ice axe wasn't necessary if you had a good grip. JUlie had her MSRs, and they gripped the whole way, using just a pole. In the parking lot, when Neil saw me putting on an old sherpa on the left foot, something else on the right, he suggested I try a pair of Northern Lights (I think.. sounds like a cigarette to me) Anyway, those shoes didn't have the most aggressive grips, and rather than switch back and forth betweens shoes and crampons, on the real steep stuff, Neil lent me his ice axe (mine was in my car)). I would grip whatever I could, however I could. Sometimes I could drive the handle in far, sometimes I would catch the adze on a crack in a rock. Once on a branch.
Dominic, on the other hand, liked playing, and would chop his thing anyway he could.
01-01-2006, 09:31 AM
Awesome photos. Can't wait to get back up!
01-02-2006, 09:02 PM
One weird thing that day. It was rather windy, and I somehow forgot to wear my outer pants. The things I was wearing were extremely thin. They offered no protection against the wind, yet I wasn't cold. They got a layer of ice on them when we were above the treeline, and that ice acted as a windbreak.
I think that picture of Neil's titled, "Back up Algonquin" is me, and my pants appear white, due to the layer of ice.
The axes were superfluous on Algonquin. The Northern Lites sucked in spite of being perfect on Allen and Marshall last winter. Actually I always wondered how they'd perform on a mtn. like Algonquin but never had the guts to try. Then when I saw Pete putting on a pair of mismatched museum pieces I knew I had my guinea pig.
Gee whizz, I'm sorry Pete. :twisted:
Today on Algonquin I took MSR's and one pole which was just right.
01-02-2006, 09:38 PM
Friday, 12/30, Pete Hickey, Neil, his son and I assembled in the Loj parking lot for this winter threesome under a grey sky @7:30. Since Pete had issues with both pairs of snowshoes he brought, Neil loaned him a pair by an odd name I forgot. The rest of us put on our MSRs and we signed in at the register. The report for the day was flurries in the morning followed by a partly sunny afternoon-highs in the mid 20's, wind 5-10mph.
We hit the well traveled trail from the register to the junction a mile in. It was the usual series of little ups and downs. After turning right at the junction, the trail gained gradient and was well broken. there were a few icy scrambles where Dominic had fun with his axe. The sky was indeed grey and the snow was falling, but it was a good day. I enjoyed a story from Neil about how some poor aspiring 46er got duped into thinking there was a written exam she must sudy for.
We soon reached the Wright junction where one of the men designated one of the four corners "the restroom." The three of them chose to switch to crampons while I stayed with the MSRs, unregrettably. Meanwhile, we got out the above treeline apparel. I put my goggles on top of my bomber cap, ready for future use and put the neoprene masque in the big zipper pocket of my "anorak." We discussed the bilingual meaning of the word anorak as the men tied up their footwear. Dominic put on this Jason-like face mask of brown suede. I was then told that Wright has a reputation for being the windiest peak in NY. Having recently visited the summit of Haystack, I was not so ready to agree. In fact, I still disagree. We decided to leave our gear at the junction and took to the Wright spur.
Throughout the day, every time Pete rattled my cage with the "we're almost there" talk, I quickly verified the comment with Neil. Landmarks on the Wright trail were no exception. After several minutes of steep ascent, we came to our first ledge and were beginning to feel the exposure. The ice axe men were having a field day with their tools while I made due with one pole. Soon we were out of the trees and the wind was whipping around. Nothing could be seen that wasn't on the bald cone. The terrain was like that of Jefferson, Adams or Madison. There were big rime coated rocks with deep snow in between. This was the reason I stayed with the snowshoes. Since the MSRs proved so well at digging in, the traction matter was taken care of and there would be no post holing. interestingly, all the rime ice on all the peaks had a bird feather texture to it rather than the usual NH tree branck look. We worked our way from cairn to cairn until we reached the summit. Yes, it was very windy, but it wasn't in the same league as Haystack. Pete mentioned a plane crash monument just below us and gave us a mock visual tour of all those glorious faux views in the Marcy Dam area. Pictures were taken and we left for the junction. The men enjoyed sliding down the steep trail while I opted for practicing dummy telemark turns while glissading down last in line.
We returned to the junction, collected our gear, modified our apparel and moved on to Algonquin. The trail there was much longer and steeper for longer lengths at a time. At the base of the super long steep stretch, I said I would like to try the MSR high heel option, but I had a hard time switching it back with my own bare hands at home. Dominic gave me the five second lesson in giving the bar a quick rap with the pole. Fabulous! I flipped up both bars and was ready to go. Wow, what a feature! Yeah climbing endless stairs is hard work, but standing on one's toes while doing it should not have to be mandatory. We later came out of the trees and it was equally windy-if not more. There was more bald rock cone to ascend this time, but we soon reached the summit. I put on my goggles and Neil said he had wished he did the same, but his were buried in his pack. Dominic leaned into the wind with his axe while I side squatted at the summit for Neil's camera. The sun was a nice orange pink in the vast cloud cover and the high speed clouds moving across the summit were visible. Again, the nonexistent views were poked fun of and we hung out for a few minutes. Dominic stood on a big boulder to pose for it was indeed the real height of land.
We moved on for Iroquois as it was often hard to identify the next cairn on our descent. Once we reached the scrub in the col, the real turmoil began. Neil and Pete discussed route finding and what they thought was and was not previously broken out. Neil and Dominic talked the GPS talk and did their thing. Pete complained that his glasses were getting foggy. I just wanted to keep moving so long as it was the correct way. We spent what seemed to be an eternity doing some serious off path navigations through some really mean spruce traps. For about the next hour or so had to be the only major unpleasantness though the return of an almost equal nature awaited us. Through a lot of trial and error, we made our way across Boundary Peak and some other bumps to the true summit of Iroquois. Shame on me for assuming it was not a trailless peak. I only looked at the National geographic map a million times.
We were previously discussing an alternate route down that was longer, but required less elevation. However, through logical reasoning, it was decided that we would leave the same way we came-via Algonquin summit. We worked our way back through the labyrinth of heinous spruce traps and were able to identify some of our mistakes, avoid them and came back out at the cairns. Once back at the Algonquin summit, the sky had since changed. We had a nice blue sky with minimum fibrous high altitude clouds above us, yet the thick haze was below us and almost up to our level. The summit of Whiteface clearly poked itself out of the cloud cover. Marcy appeared from time to time and the cloud cover below occasionally offered us a view of the Colden slides. Neil went crazy with the camera and he was in his zenith since this is the closest to what he wanted and hoped for. It was the weather report that got him to commit to joining us and I don't think he was disappointed.
I didn't mean to break up the revelry, but I said I was starting to get cold. We left the Algonquin summit and noted the views to the north as we descended further and further into the grey air. We eventually got down into the trees and the men resumed sliding at every opportunity. At this point, I was really starting to feel it in the toes as the blisters on my smallest two left knuckles were starting to make themselves known.
We reached the junction and I was becoming all the more grateful every time the gradient of the trail relented, even if only for a bit. We worked our way through the few ice scrambles. Dominic was wielding his axe very zealously while someone commented on some ranger possibly fining him $500 for its misuse. Unfortunately, I missed vital parts of that discussion. It started getting dark shortly before the last junction, but I was determined to finish in natural lighting. Pete insisted that I go first so he could follow my shadow so I agreed. Neil and Dominic were ahead of us. We passed several small parties of inbounders. Neil took a quick contact lens stop and almost had me believe he has a glass eye and dropped it in the snow. Boy was I getting more tired by the minute. Pete wanted to try some secret shortcut that did not work out. It's a secret, don't ask! Anyway, I was frustrated at the bad investment in it as I was feeling irritable. Every little up and down seemed almost insurmountable during that "we're almost there" talk. This time, though, Pete rattled off specific quantities of distances between various landmarks, like junctions, bridges, wilderness boundaries, etc. so it was ok.
We reached the register in the dark and did the usual post winter hike monkey business in the lot, like dressing, arranging gear and talking about the day. At that point, I would have to say that it was my favorite hike of my vacation, despite my fourth day in a row exhaustion setting in. I definitely would not have wanted to do that one alone.
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