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  • Winter Peak

    I am planning a winter peak in the High Peaks for the first time and would love some feedback on beginner winter peaks. I have done 10 peaks in the summer on a sporadic consistency at best. So, I am not ready to take on Everest if you know what I mean. I have cleated snowshoes and Petzl crampons. I would rather not camp overnight and could carry 20-25 lbs of gear. I want to save room for dinner at the Lake Placid Brewery too. So, keep that in mind if you could.

  • #2
    Cascade/Porter are the quintessential "beginner" peaks, including in the winter time. Phelps is another good choice; less than 10 miles round trip, some flat hiking on the approach to get warmed up, and the trailhead (Adirondack Loj) not far from the Lake Placid Brewery.
    From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

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    • #3
      Have you done any winter peaks? If not, I would recommend hiking a few smaller hills to do a gear shakedown and dial in your clothing. Not saying you can't do it successfully first time out but winter hiking is much different that hiking in summer. My first winter hike was a comedy of errors and others on the forum have detailed their misadventures when they were novice winter hikers. At the very least go with somebody who has some winter experience. And start early.
      Last edited by Makwa; 12-01-2018, 05:58 PM.

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      • Fat Man Hiking
        Fat Man Hiking commented
        Editing a comment
        Excellent advice! My first winter peak was St Regis this past March. 11/24 I did Porter/Cascade just because they are "beginner's mountains". Ready for the next one if I can get away long enough.

      • moosebeware
        moosebeware commented
        Editing a comment
        I second this as well. I did my first trip up Round Mtn., then Snowy, then Cascade and Porter, with my now husband who had more winter hiking experience than I. It's easier to make mistakes when you are closer to your car. Getting above treeline in winter, up to peaks like Algonquin or Marcy, can be much more treacherous with whiteout conditions and frigid temps. At that point you don't want to be worrying about your gear. Headlamps, maps, water and food that won't freeze, layers, no cotton, etc. These are all considerations. It takes a while to sort it all out.

    • #4
      Originally posted by Makwa View Post
      Have you done any winter peaks? If not, I would recommend a few smaller hills to do a gear shakedown and dial in your clothing. Not saying you can't do it successfully first time out but winter hiking is much different that hiking in summer. My first winter hike was a comedy of errors and others on the forum have detailed their misadventures when they were novice winter hikers. At the very least go with somebody who has some winter experience. And start early.
      No, I have not compleated any high peaks in the winter. But a friend and I attempted Cascade and Porter on a late fall day only to have to turn back at the last junction sign due to zero visibility that morning. Literally, I could not see 5 ft in front of myself at one point. Yes, it was a surprise storm. But I came back in summer, of course, to do the two peaks in, completion, with success.

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      • #5
        A winter shakedown is a good idea. Just climb Mount Jo, or one of the 6'er peaks.
        Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

        Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
        Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
        Past President Catskill 3500 Club
        CEO Views And Brews!

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        • #6
          Do Buck Mountain from pilot knob right off of Lake George !!!! 2000 feet elevation in 3 miles
          Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
          ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

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          • #7
            good winter peaks to start with:
            Sawteeth = 3 mile nice road walk then take well laid out Weld trail up. only 2 tricky sections on last 1/2 mile after intersection but easier than Colvin. round trip about 10 miles.
            Phelps as already mentioned.
            Lower wolfjaw from either Garden or Ausable. From Ausable very nice via canyon bridge / wedge brook trail nice forest and steady climb.
            Colden from LOJ all easy steady climbing
            for a non high peak Hopkins up mossy cascade is about 6 round trip right from 73

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            • #8
              I am warming up to Phelp's

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              • #9
                phelps it is
                has a few ledges that can be ice or ice covered in snow. watched a woman go head first off one ( no traction ) and needed major first aid for head wound.
                I walked her out slow, ( dizzy and only had use of one eye ), and her friend went ahead to alert rangers.

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by mastergrasshopper View Post
                  phelps it is
                  has a few ledges that can be ice or ice covered in snow. watched a woman go head first off one ( no traction ) and needed major first aid for head wound.
                  I walked her out slow, ( dizzy and only had use of one eye ), and her friend went ahead to alert rangers.

                  Wow, sounds like I will definitely have spikes and crampons with me. On another note, I mentioned carrying 20-25 lbs of gear which sounds completely unnecessary, which it is for a day hike. Maybe, extra socks, some snacks, water and a few other items needed for winter hiking.

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                  • moosebeware
                    moosebeware commented
                    Editing a comment
                    How much gear one carries is a personal choice. You never regret the gear you bring, only the gear you don't. That being said, temperatures, conditions, weather will alter your choices on what to bring.

                • #11
                  Phelps is a good choice. I was going to mention that a couple of the short, steep steps on that trail are often icy, but MG covered that.

                  Regarding the winter pack: Extra lights, a space blanket or emergency shelter, and an extra down parka. Of course, several pairs of mitts as mentioned in another thread - they get wet and you will want to change them. I like to have chemical heaters, as my hands and feet get cold even when my core is warm, due to Raynaud's.

                  And as Makwa said, start early. It gets dark VERY early right now; on yesterday's hike it was dark enough to require headlamps by about 4:15.

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                  • #12
                    Originally posted by Edb 46er View Post
                    Wow, sounds like I will definitely have spikes and crampons with me. On another note, I mentioned carrying 20-25 lbs of gear which sounds completely unnecessary, which it is for a day hike. Maybe, extra socks, some snacks, water and a few other items needed for winter hiking.
                    I also carry my down quilt on winter day hikes. It is just added security if something should happen. Also is good to have if you happen upon someone else that may be injured. When you are injured in the winter, heat loss it the major concern aside from bleeding. With the ground being cold, you heat gets sapped very quickly. It is nice to have something to insulate you from the cold while waiting for rescue.

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                    • #13
                      Good idea with the quilt, I have an ENO hammock quilt that weighs ounces.

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                      • #14
                        Things you learn on your first winter hikes:

                        Conditions are very variable. Wet, icy, deep snow and everything in between all within sometimes a few feet of each other.
                        High peaks REQUIRE you to bring snowshoes even if you don't use them. Traction is the obvious issue. Crampons are not necessarily the most finely tuned solution but should work well in the worst conditions you could encounter.. more efficient solutions exist for lighter travel etc.
                        Layers and heat management are much more important than any other season. I usually start out with light layers on and heavy layers in my pack. I'd rather warm up as I start going. I have hiked in a t-shirt on a 10 degree day because I was hot!!! Then as soon as you stop and you're out in the wind you need to layer up FAST or you'll freeze quick.
                        The inner furnace is fired with both exercise and food and you need to be ready to fire the furnace quick.
                        Hypothermia is a killer. Sweaty clothes are real, real bad...
                        Cliff bars are not edible when frozen unless your teeth and jaw muscles are bionic.
                        The hose on your camelpack will freeze. Blowing air back down the line helps. I keep the end tucked into the neck of my shirt. It's probably better just to use an insulated thermos and stop to drink.

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                        • #15
                          I bring 2 thermos of super weak green tea - about 40 ounces.
                          Your tastes change in the winter.
                          A half a stick of pepperoni cut into chunks - goes down in a minute on a winter hike!
                          In the winter I can eat a cheese stick almost as fast as my dog could.
                          Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
                          ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

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