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Camp Grace>Orebed Brook>State Range to Haystack>Phelps trail back to JBL

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  • Camp Grace>Orebed Brook>State Range to Haystack>Phelps trail back to JBL

    Hi All,

    I'm brand new here so I'm trying to catch up with all the great posts and info. I'm planning a winter trip in early Feb and will be staying at Camp Grace. I have completed 23 of the 46 high peaks but I have only done a handful in the winter. I was looking at doing the tail end of Great Range (Gothics, Saddleback, Basin) or maybe skipping Gothics and going out to Haystack and coming back via Phelps trail. So my questions are:

    1. What gear is necessary to take with you on this hike? I would be carrying snowshoes, microspikes and an ice axe but is there another piece(s) of equipment that I should have to attempt this hike?

    2. I've also read on http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9198.html that there is heavy blowdown on the upper portions of the Phelps trail. How bad is this? Has is been cleared away at all?

    3. I know it greatly depends on physical shape/endurance of each hiker but can someone give me a time range in hours to complete each of these hikes mentioned above? I was estimated somewhere in the 8-10 hour mark.

    I'll probably have some more questions. Thx in advance for any help.

  • #2
    Hi Lemonhead24, and welcome to this forum! It's a good place for asking such questions. Just remember that trail conditions can change quickly and radically!
    I'd strongly recommend full crampons for a Haystack-to-Saddleback hike. You're almost sure to need them going up Basin, and going up the Saddleback cliffs may also demand them. You may also need them for the Haystack side of Little Haystack.
    Mark
    A bad day in cripplebrush is better than a good day at work.

    Remaining Winter NE115 peaks as of 3/11/10:

    [None]
    Yes!!!

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      Second the crampons. Haystack, Basin and Saddleback are often places where are necessary.

  • #3
    Regarding Phelps Trail Blowdown - I didn't find blowdown to be bad on the Phelps Trail that we took on the way to Haystack from the Garden on 12-2-17. That was after the date in the DEC report. Perhaps the major blowdown is between the junction with the Range Trail and the Phelps Trail. There had been some weather in October that caused scattered blowdowns through out the High Peaks.

    Regarding Crampons - Ice can sometimes be pretty bad on Little Haystack too and on a couple places climbing Haystack. Hopefully by February there will be enough snow to cover most ice. But you can never tell. I wore my old crampons on my last trip on Haystack, the 12-2-17 hike.

    Don

    Comment


    • #4
      Thanks for the great responses, guys. I absolutely love my Hillsound Microspikes but I'll be following your advice and taking the good ole crampons with me too.

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by lemonhead24 View Post
        ... I absolutely love my Hillsound Microspikes ...

        RE: Hillsound Microspikes. No such animal.
        • Kahtoola makes "Microspikes" (and other models).
        • Hillsound makes "Trail Crampons" (and other models).

        Blowdown on the Phelps Trail is the least of your worries. You indicated a desire to traverse south from Gothics (or Saddleback) to Basin (or Haystack). You'll be descending the south sides of Saddleback and Basin; they pose far greater challenges than skirting some minor blowdown.

        Saddleback's south face is all bare-rock ledges (a.k.a. "Saddleback cliff") and can be quite intimidating if blanketed by snow/ice. Being south-facing, it is subjected to freeze-thaw cycles but, fortunately, tends to lose its mantle office and snow rather quickly. Except on a certain in February 2013 ...


        Brian attempting to find a safe descent route. FEB 2013.


        Surveying Saddleback's south side. FEB 2013.



        Neil and Tom ascending Saddleback's south side. DEC 2014.

        Similarly, the south side of Basin features some steep terrain below its ladder. It is also sun-facing but, unlike Saddleback's ledges, the freeze-thaw cycles tend to produce copious ice along the trail. Depending on the weather, you might get lots of snow and the descent will be fairly benign. Otherwise, it can become prime crampon territory for a safe descent.


        Neil beginning ascent of Basin's south side. DEC 2014.


        Good luck!
        Looking for Views!

        Comment


        • moosebeware
          moosebeware commented
          Editing a comment
          There's also that ramp going from the Saddleback col up to Basin's summit. A flat section of rock that ends in a cliff. It's tilted downhill just enough to scare the wits off most people.

      • #6
        Solid post you made, Trail Boss. And great pics taboot! I have read that the preferred route through there is the opposite direction to what I intend on doing but you definitely gave me a better perspective on the freeze/thaw that can occur on the south facing slopes. Thanks!

        And I stand corrected..I do have the HillSound "Trail Crampons". I just always refer to them as microspikes because they attach like the Kahtoola's and not the traditional "strap on" crampons.

        Comment


        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          It's 'preferred' because you ascend the technically demanding terrain (as opposed to descend it) and you work backwards from the most distant peak (Haystack) to your starting point (as opposed to having the final peak of the day, Haystack, being the farthest from camp).

          Having said that, after traversing Basin you're in full "commit mode" to ascend Saddleback. Once in the col, there's no easy bailout option other than backtracking over Basin (ouch) or bushwhacking down Chicken Coop Brook (more ouch).

          You should know there's something called the 'winter route' for Saddleback's ledges. It involves ascending along the right hand side (climber's right) where the woods meet the rock-face (and where a lot of snow collects). Basically you follow along this demarcation zone as far it allows you to ascend (and it's all doable in snowshoes). The problem with the 'winter-route' is it allows you to ascend 95% of the peak .. and then there's a 12-foot tall obstacle (a "chimney") that cannot be surmounted in snowshoes and requires spikes/crampons and determination. Sometimes the chimney gets so full of ice and snow it becomes a ramp but that's typically reserved for late winter (if at all).

          In the photo with Brian (above), we couldn't find a safe way down. So we descended as far as we could then traversed across the face to the right, to the winter-route, just *below* the "chimney". We descended the winter-route (although we didn't know its path at the time and simply discovered it by accident) and popped out at the base of the ledges, safe and sound.

          Hopefully you won't need the winter-route but it's handy to know it exists and can get you 95% of the way to the summit ... where you either power up the chimney or head left back onto the ledges and suss out a way to the top.


          More pics here: http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...705#post455705

      • #7
        lemonhead24 Some good info. on microspikes vs. crampons at link following. I've used Kahtoohla and Hillsound versions of microspikes - and as well as you - if it is a set with an elastomer harness, little chains etc.- we call them microspikes because of the basic/fundamental differences between these and "typical" crampons. Unfortunately Hillsound chose to name all three of the traction products in a confusing and ambiguous manner.The Hillsound Trail "Crampon" sic has a slightly longer/sharper tooth and a superfluous strap which distinguishes it from the WEYN or Kahtoola but they are basically the same animal. I've found the Hillsound Trail "Crampon" balls up more than the Kahtoohla model which I've used for many years. I've started using the Hillsound Trail Crampon PRO which is actually a "typical crampon" with longitudinal bar and has a pair of moderately curving front spikes which are very useful going up small frozen waterfalls, e.g. that you might find on ADK trails. They are not quite as stiff or heavy as some Grivel/Petzl models or other technical mountaineering models - and though heavier than microspikes - I find them well worth it in terms of performance. The binding is fantastic...really well designed and easy to use and the spike plates are absolutely secure. They have durable fixed anti-balling plates which makes them a superior performer. For ADK winter trips I'm not using microspikes anymore - just the Hillsound Pro for non-technical climbing. Note that Kahtoohla has a model called the K10 which is a bit of a poor cousin of the Hillsound Pro in some respects - there have been complaints about the non-fixed anti-balling plates falling off (first time out in one instance - bad) - and the difficulty of getting the plates on in the first place - one person needed a pair of pliers just to get them on - egads. These also lack the moderate front pointing pair of spikes that are found on the Hillsound T.C. Pros. Not too well designed in many respects.

        http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthrea...es-vs-Crampons
        www.brandtbolding.com

        Comment


        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          FWIW, in the pics above, Neil and I used Trail Crampons and Tom used K-10's. Between the three of us, we've hiked hundreds of winter peaks. The gear you've dismissed isn't nearly as poor as you've concluded it to be. However, I respect the fact it didn't work for you and you should definitely choose what does work for you.

          BTW, you should know the first generation of the Trail Crampon Pro had issues. The polycarbonate binding broke close to where it attached to the metal frame at the heel. I assume they've corrected in the 2017 model (but I don't know for sure). The early models did not come with the 'stoppers' and were added when it was discovered the ratchets would loosen. Having said that, Hillsound stands behind their products. I'm on my third (fourth?) pair of Trail Crampons (all were replaced under warranty).

          It's an interesting product (and I had considered them except the standard Trail Crampons have worked well for me). On the 'traction spectrum' it lands below traditional crampons and above Microspikes and TC's. However, it's an evolving product and only time will tell if the 2017 model has addressed all its shortcomings.

          Please do keep us apprised of your experiences with the TC Pro.

        • lemonhead24
          lemonhead24 commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks again for your post, Trail Boss. I was beginning to second guess my appreciation of the Hill Sound Trail Crampons. I have the 2017 version and they performed flawlessly for me last spring for Big Slide, Colvin/Blake but neither of those hikes are as difficult as Orebed Brook>Saddleback>Basin going south and descending those tricky parts mentioned above. It certainly makes me feel better knowing you've been through there with Hill Sound Trail Crampons even though you were traversing in the opposite direction.

          Anybody been up there lately? I know that rain last week destroyed a lot of snow cover and I'm guessing it's been replaced with a nice thick coat of ice.

      • #8
        This is a very timely thread as I was planning on doing HABASA this weekend with a group - staying over at JBL.

        Any updates on the trail leading in - hoping to sled in our gear and food but worried about the depleted snow cover?

        Also, we are expecting some icy conditions up high, but hopefully still passable.

        Any recent trip reports?
        Redtail
        LT 06
        46x46

        Comment


        • moosebeware
          moosebeware commented
          Editing a comment
          There was a group who did a GRT this past weekend. Said the cliffs of Saddleback were bare, but plenty of ice on Basin. With the rain today, conditions will likely not improve in the ice department. I say bring crampons and an ax. They found both handy. And say hi to Peter for me when you get the JBL.

        • Redtail
          Redtail commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks, moosebeware - very helpful.

      • #9
        Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
        Neil and Tom ascending Saddleback's south side. DEC 2014.
        Is Tom Boghollow? He and I talked about this very stretch while hiking out of Allen in September 2016. I like winter hikes and asked if it was any easier in the winter, if one can get a crampon into something. "No."

        A little off topic, but he was also the person who clued me into satellite tracking, something that came in handy when my Basin hike took over an hour longer than planned so my parents knew my call would be late and not call the rangers. I still appreciate that chat from the gravel pit to the trailhead.
        46/46 11/46W

        Comment


        • #10
          For the DEC 2014 HaBaSa trip, Tom was randomscooter . He and his wife Doreen run http://RandomScoots.com, namely two outstanding vacation-home rentals in the town of Keene. Tom knows the Adirondacks forward and backwards and has guided many clients. He's hiked everything in all seasons and months (46, Winter 46, ADK HH, Winter ADK HH, ADK Grid, etc). Doreen and Tom have supported Neil in all his fund-raising projects (lodging, food, transport, etc). Tom accompanied me to Allen when I finished the Four Season Grid.

          I've hiked extensively with Boghollow Tom. We met by chance at ADK Loj (and another fellow) and joined forces to break trail to Wright and Algonquin after a storm deposited 2' of snow. We proceeded to 'join forces' for many subsequent hikes, in all seasons, culminating in a memorable one-week trip to Maine to hike all 14 of its 4K peaks. He's now a multi-round W46er who is pursuing the ADK Grid.

          Any advice from either of these two Toms is excellent advice based on extensive 'boots on the ground' experience.
          Looking for Views!

          Comment


          • lemonhead24
            lemonhead24 commented
            Editing a comment
            Wow! Trail Boss should change his handle to Domino's because he delivers every time he shows up here.
            Those cabins are gold! I will definitely be renting those some time in the future.

          • Trail Boss
            Trail Boss commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, they're called cabins but that just doesn't do justice to how comfortable, roomy, tastefully decorated, and well-appointed (and cozy) they truly are. They're more of a home away from home.
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