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Colvin/Blake!

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  • Colvin/Blake!

    The day started when I woke up at 5:00am to make the 2 hour drive to AMR. I quickly checked the weather conditions in Saranac Lake just to see how cold it got overnight.... 25 below. perfect. It was going to be a colllld start.

    At the trailhead my car thermometer registered a balmy -10. We suited up as quickly as we could and set off down the road towards the gate. We bare-booted up the road past the gate a little ways, the snow was ~ 4 inches deep and packed down, but after a mile up the road we put on our snow shoes.

    We took the cut-off trail up to the Elk Pass junction, the recent storm definitely helped out the meager snow pack but not as much as perhaps was hoped. It looks most areas got in the ball park of 10 inches, a little more/less in places. We made okay time up to the Elk Pass junction, not great - still working on getting rid of the flu/cold/winter plague.

    Above the Elk Pass junction the trail became quite treacherous, steep and icy in spots, nothing terribly unmanageable, but we spent a lot of time clambering over and around the obstacles. I had forgotten the bumps near the summit of Colvin, so I had my hopes raised several times before we finally saw the summit rock just ahead. But the rock was guarded, there was one last obstacle before we could claim the summit.

    This was the toughest/diciest spot yet. The trail cuts off to the left of the summit and follows up a wide crack that you need to climb up before you turn to the summit. On my last winter ascent of Colvin, this was just snowed in and more or less forgettable, this time was different. The crack is filled with hard ice and your holds are limited, to make matters worse a fall backwards would funnel you down off of the side, which could be bad. We spent some time negotiating this section, and thanks to a couple of well places handholds in the rock and a bomber root above the crack, we managed okay. Finally the summit was ours!

    On Colvin about 12:15, we spent a few minutes basking in the sun and looking out at the Great Range and the snow-covered Ausable lake. Then it was off towards Blake, last time I did Colvin in the winter we had to skip Blake. Not today.

    Trail over was pretty soft, the conditions on the south side of Colvin reminded me of spring, the snow was wet, sticky and the sun felt hot (bear in the mind the temperature had warmed from its morning low significantly by now). It was amazing how this changed as soon as at got into the Col and into the shadow of Blake.

    We dropped pack and ran up Blake, this trail was pretty nice, relatively devoid of major ice, and just steep up the snow. It took us about 30 minutes from where we dropped pack to reach the summit. A few pictures and then we turned back for the return trip. Great butt sliding back down to the col, ~10 minutes for the descent.

    The return trip up Colvin was miserable, it was hot, we were tired, dehydrated, the snow was wet, and we were tired of working around the ice. Finally we did most of the ascent and started to hike the long summit ridge before finally re-summiting Colvin just after 3. At this time, the sun was sinking lower in the sky and the warmth that we had enjoyed was starting to disappear.

    The descent off of Colvin was very fast - that is once we down climbed the crack near the summit. Downclimbing it wasn't significantly harder than climbing up it, but required more care. After that it was smooth sailing all the way back to the Elk Pass junction, we just slid down the icy parts that had taken so much time to get around on the way up.

    Once at Elk Pass, we put on the auto-pilot and muscled back out to the road. We got to the gate just after dark and back to the cars a little before six.

    In wrap up, a great day and a new winter peak, in fact the last winter peak needed from the AMR trailhead, it will be nice not having to trudge that road again for a while. I may post a few pictures later!

    -Happy Trails!

  • #2
    Nice trip report.
    What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    • #3
      It is hard to believe how warm it got later in the day with such a cold start. Nice TR - looking forward to the photos.
      An OLD man once said …There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of LIFE, getting back up is LIVING.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the trip report! Egads to that rock just below Colvin's summit! I am hiking these two in a couple of weeks. Maybe there'll be more snow so the scramble up will be doable. I might just have to get some rope. I struggle with that scramble even in the summer!

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        • #5
          Here are a few pictures from the trip, the first one shows the crux of the climb, it wasn't too hard, just hard to kind of shimmy your legs in close quarters. It wasn't really worth taking the snowshoes off for it, plus the crampons on the bottom provided good traction.


          http://www.flickr.com/photos/6438194...7632753498154/

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          • #6
            Hi, many thanks, I am planning to go Saturday. the first photo, is that the crack you spoke about?
            46-R 8018 (08.10.2013)
            27/46W

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            • #7
              Originally posted by fjhh View Post
              Hi, many thanks, I am planning to go Saturday. the first photo, is that the crack you spoke about?
              Yes, and like I said, it wasn't terribly bad, just required care, as a fall could result in a 10-15 foot fall off to the left.

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              • #8
                Thanks for the good TR and accompanying photos. I'm planning on making my first ascent to Blake/Colvin this Sat, so this report was timely. Maybe I'll run into fjhh along the path.

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                • #9
                  t46psk, I have never done these, do I take the first left off of the AMR road at "artists falls" or the shorter steeper one that looks to be a half mile down the road?
                  I figure it will take me 6hrs to get to Blake. Does that sound realistic?
                  Jason, we hope to leave the parking area at 6am, I am slow so I am sure you will blow past us.
                  46-R 8018 (08.10.2013)
                  27/46W

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fjhh View Post
                    t46psk, I have never done these, do I take the first left off of the AMR road at "artists falls" or the shorter steeper one that looks to be a half mile down the road?
                    I figure it will take me 6hrs to get to Blake. Does that sound realistic?
                    Jason, we hope to leave the parking area at 6am, I am slow so I am sure you will blow past us.
                    The bypass trail, which seems to be what you mean by the shorter steeper one [up] the road, is definitely the easiest way. The Gill Brook Trail is lovely but tougher going.

                    Six hours is more than realistic. Many do it in considerably less time, but obviously results vary!

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the pics. Glad you had a nice day.
                      8000m 0/14

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fjhh View Post
                        Jason, we hope to leave the parking area at 6am, I am slow so I am sure you will blow past us.
                        I'm meeting my group at 6AM north of albany, probably be at the TH at 8AM. I'm sure we'll cross paths.

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                        • #13
                          The trail for Colvin/Blake is about 2.5 to 3 miles down Lake Road. Look for the sign that says "Gillbrook Cutoff, Indianhead, Colvin, Nippletop". If you miss it, there is another route closer to the Ausable Lake. The sign should say "Indian Head, Fish Hawk Cliffs, Colvin.

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                          • #14

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                            • #15
                              nice... almost temps me to go back...almost...
                              ADK 46-R #6750W
                              CL-50 - #51
                              CATSKILLS- 9/39
                              NPT Complete 7-6-13

                              Hiking photos

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