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Old 04-11-2012, 08:27 AM   #1
SanDimas1988
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Peak Conditions

Before this past winter I was talked out of climbing any peaks, as it was beyond my experience level. Now that spring is upon us, I'm planning my first trip up next weekend (April 20, 21).

I'm wondering what the conditions are on top of the High Peaks. I'm going up with a friend, we're both experienced at hiking, and have done a couple peaks in the summer, but never in other seasons. We are planning on Big Slide for Friday, then Whiteface and Esther on Saturday.

A couple questions, should we expect snow on top of the peaks? If so, can we get up there with just our hiking boots, or will we also need crampons or microspikes (don't know the difference, just heard of both of these)? Will we still need our winter gear, or will the temperature be relatively close to what's predicted at the base (as of now, predicted to be about 50).

And a final question, hardest to answer since no one knows my fitness/experience level, but does it seem like these three peaks would be planning too big of an undertaking to start a season?

As always, thanks for the help. I've done nothing but dream about the Adirondacks since my last trip up there in October.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:13 AM   #2
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Would also be interested in conditions on Marcy specifically.

I have climbed many ADK peaks (including Marcy) in the past with my father and have appropriate gear/knowledge but am likely not as experienced as most people here.

I'm heading up with a friend to do Marcy Saturday and the weather/temperature looks decent, but not beautiful (need to be prepared for cold and possibly wet conditions)

From the more experienced people: Is there anything I'm missing? Is Marcy a go for a mid-experienced person on Saturday or would anyone recommend caution?

I'm a firm believer that asking people with more experience is much less embarrassing then being helicoptered off a peak.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:24 AM   #3
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You can certainly expect snow and ice this time of year. More of both with elevation. South facing slopes will have less than North faces. A quick look at some of the more recent trip reports of other mountain hikes should provide you with representative conditions. As to starting the season with Big Slide followed by Whiteface and Ester. Both are relatively shorter hikes and for many are good "first hikes" in the season. You will certainly know more after hiking Big Slide.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:26 AM   #4
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Ok, if I should expect snow and ice, what should I use for footwear? Will I be ok with my hiking boots? Crampons?
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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There was plenty of snow up on Marcy this past weekend. I wasn't on it, but the whole mountain was white form the Wolfjaws perspective. I wouldnt go with anything less than spikes. Snowshoes and crampons would hurt if you have them. Just be prepared to turn around if you aren't prepped with the appropriate gear.

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Old 04-11-2012, 11:01 AM   #6
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I love hiking this time of year and enjoy experiencing winter still hanging on while spring is in full swing. Just be prepared for frustrating conditions. You will experience everything from mud to slush to snow, etc. It will be wet, so be ready for that. Check adk.org for current conditions. The peaks did receive quite a bit of new snow this week. If I were making a trip this weekend I would most likely carry my snowshoes, probably not crampons (but I would be closely monitoring conditions and temps and make that decision at the trailhead, and not microspikes, but only because I don't own them.

The original poster...I think your hike planned is a reasonable one for the first of the year. Have fun and let us know how it goes!

Second poster...you will most likely need your full winter gear for Marcy. Marcy is not all that difficult of a hike, it was actually my first peak, but not in April. You should definitely be prepared. Just because it's 50 and mild at the Loj doesn't mean it will be the same on top of Marcy. You could encounter whiteout conditions and full on winter up there. So again...be prepared for anything.

Wish I could go hiking this weekend!
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:06 AM   #7
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I own snowshoes, and I just bought microspikes. I think from what I'm reading I should be fine carrying both of these, should work for almost any condition?

I'm still 9 days out from my trip, so I'll look for more accurate conditions on ADK.org next week, I just wanted to make sure I'd be prepared. Everyone on here is so helpful responding quickly.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:15 AM   #8
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You should be good with that traction set up. Like you said....a lot could change between now and next weekend.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthBay View Post
There was plenty of snow up on Marcy this past weekend. I wasn't on it, but the whole mountain was white form the Wolfjaws perspective. I wouldnt go with anything less than spikes. Snowshoes and crampons would hurt if you have them.
I've got Microspikes, haven't added full blown crampons or snowshoes to the collection yet, will have to play that one by ear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthBay View Post
Just be prepared to turn around if you aren't prepped with the appropriate gear.
Probably the best general advice there is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adkdremn View Post
I love hiking this time of year and enjoy experiencing winter still hanging on while spring is in full swing. Just be prepared for frustrating conditions. You will experience everything from mud to slush to snow, etc. It will be wet, so be ready for that. Check adk.org for current conditions. The peaks did receive quite a bit of new snow this week. If I were making a trip this weekend I would most likely carry my snowshoes, probably not crampons (but I would be closely monitoring conditions and temps and make that decision at the trailhead, and not microspikes, but only because I don't own them.

The original poster...I think your hike planned is a reasonable one for the first of the year. Have fun and let us know how it goes!

Second poster...you will most likely need your full winter gear for Marcy. Marcy is not all that difficult of a hike, it was actually my first peak, but not in April. You should definitely be prepared. Just because it's 50 and mild at the Loj doesn't mean it will be the same on top of Marcy. You could encounter whiteout conditions and full on winter up there. So again...be prepared for anything.

Wish I could go hiking this weekend!
Thank you immensely for this information.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:49 PM   #10
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I saw this note posted on-line by the ADK

The precipitation has been almost all snow above 2000 feet in the High Peaks since Sunday night! Reports have come in of almost a foot or more of new snow above 3500 feet with more in the higher summits forecast through Wednesday night. Please be prepared for winter conditions
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:25 PM   #11
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We did Big Slide on March 31 and used Microspikes, although our 27 year old son with size 15 feet barebooted it. There were definately some slippery spots where we appreciated the micros. But, as the previous post suggests, thngs change quickly. A quick call to the Adk Lodge or even the Mountaineer on Friday before you come will help you be better prepared. Big Slide took us 9 hours via the Brothers. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:44 AM   #12
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I'm going to ask the question here, don't know where exactly it would go, but seeing as I already started a thread I may as well just use it. My plans for Big Slide on Friday are cancelled, but I'm still doing Whiteface and Esther on Saturday. Looks like I'll be brining both microspikes and snowshoes. I'm wondering where is the best information to find the trails for this hike? Are there any websites that will tell me where I should go? I can only find trip reports, and they're not too specific about whether something has a marked trail, or how to get from Whiteface to Esther.

I have this book, are there any better ones? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/093...00_i00_details
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:08 AM   #13
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The trailheads aren't too hard to find. You've got two options- start either at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, or at the reservoir at the base of Marble Mountain. The ASRC trailhead is the more popular place to start- there's less elevation gain than from the reservoir, and it's a shorter route, but it's also much steeper in the first half mile or so. Personally, I prefer the route from the reservoir, since it gets less use, and passes through some interesting oak forests that aren't typical of the Adirondacks.

I've marked both trailheads on this map, A is the ASRC trailhead, B is the reservoir trailhead.

The trail to Whiteface is pretty well marked and maintained, and you should have no problems following it. As I recall, the start of the herd path to Esther is marked with a sign, although the trail itself is unmarked. The herd path is pretty easy to follow, however, and the terrain is pretty gentle- you'll hardly even notice the uphill climb to the summit of Esther (in contrast to Whiteface, where you certainly will notice the uphill climb!).

Hope that helps.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:14 AM   #14
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I have this book, are there any better ones? http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/093...00_i00_details
Right book, wrong edition. Here's the one you want. It's available from ADK, and at many outdoor gear shops. If you have an EMS near you, they are likely to have it. Nat Geo has a great waterproof map of the high peaks trails that you might want as well.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:18 AM   #15
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That definitely helps. Thanks a lot.

Everyone on here is so helpful, but I feel bad constantly asking for routes before I make a trip up. Is there any online resource with trail information I can just look up?

And a couple final questions about this trip. On your map, it looks like the starting places are closer to Esther, will the trail go towards Whiteface, then loop back towards Esther? Or does it hit Esther first? You said to hit Whiteface, then follow a herd path to Esther, will I then turn around and come back?


And to Ridgerunner, thanks, I'll check EMS tomorrow.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:21 AM   #16
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And the final question, what sort of distance will I be looking at for both? Will we need to start before dawn, or could I do it by starting at like 8:30?
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:29 AM   #17
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That definitely helps. Thanks a lot.

Everyone on here is so helpful, but I feel bad constantly asking for routes before I make a trip up. Is there any online resource with trail information I can just look up?

And a couple final questions about this trip. On your map, it looks like the starting places are closer to Esther, will the trail go towards Whiteface, then loop back towards Esther? Or does it hit Esther first? You said to hit Whiteface, then follow a herd path to Esther, will I then turn around and come back?


And to Ridgerunner, thanks, I'll check EMS tomorrow.
Sent you a PM. Re distance, it's nearly 13 miles to do both from the reservoir...you save about 2.4 miles RT by starting at ASRC.
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Old 04-16-2012, 11:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by SanDimas1988 View Post
That definitely helps. Thanks a lot.

Everyone on here is so helpful, but I feel bad constantly asking for routes before I make a trip up. Is there any online resource with trail information I can just look up?

And a couple final questions about this trip. On your map, it looks like the starting places are closer to Esther, will the trail go towards Whiteface, then loop back towards Esther? Or does it hit Esther first? You said to hit Whiteface, then follow a herd path to Esther, will I then turn around and come back?


And to Ridgerunner, thanks, I'll check EMS tomorrow.
The trail splits. There is a junction near the top of Lookout Mountain- going straight at the junction will lead you to the summit of Whiteface, taking a right will take you out to the summit of Esther. Both are out and back trips, so you'll need to return to the junction after summiting each peak.

I'd say an 8 or 8:30 am start should be good enough- but it depends on how fast you hike. Getting both Whiteface and Esther isn't exactly one of the harder High Peaks hikes, though.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:43 PM   #19
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That definitely helps. Thanks a lot.

Everyone on here is so helpful, but I feel bad constantly asking for routes before I make a trip up. Is there any online resource with trail information I can just look up?
There are several websites I use a lot when I don't have handy access to my books. I keep them bookmarked.

This website has a nice map and a bit of a description for most of the high peaks as well as a lot of other places in the park and Catskills.
http://www.cnyhiking.com/AdirondackPark.htm

This website I use for a quick reference on times, distances and hike difficulties:
http://www.adirondack.net/tour/hike/highpeaks.cfm

And this one has the GPS coordinates for the peaks:
http://alavigne.net/Outdoors/Feature...sp?navpage=gps

And finally this one has some trail descriptions - here is the one on Ester:
http://www.summitpost.org/mount-esther/150690

However, for a herd path hike I would recommend searching this website. Some of the regulars have very good descriptions of routes. Trail Boss in particular has many well written and recent (within a year or two) reports, I have used them several times.

Good luck.
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