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Hella Cold on Colden 2/18

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  • Hella Cold on Colden 2/18

    I know that some may have been hoping for a trip report regarding an epic bushwhacking up the southwest slopes of Mt. Marshall, but as it turned out we ended up meeting some friends in Saranac Lake the night before, so we decided to go in from the loj instead.

    In any case, the day was relatively easy, save the outstandingly cold weather. The trail between Marcy Dam and the loj is extremely well packed, about 2 inches of thick concrete like snow, occasional roots/rocks poking through. Bareboots or spikes are far preferable to snowshoes for this part.

    We took a brief break at Marcy Dam, took a few pictures of the cold cloudless sky and started towards Colden. The trail was well packed all the way up to Lake Arnold. Much colder up here, plus we were starting to get into the winds. We heard the howling up high and saw loose snow billow off the trees. It was going to be miserable up there.

    Just below the last bump before ascending the false summit the wind was blowing pretty hard, and while the trees provided some protection, the windchill was starting to become a factor. Time to cover the exposed skin. We took a few minutes of suiting up and then started towards the false summit. Here, the trail was drifted in, enough so that we actually fumbled around in the woods looking for it in a couple of spots, but overall it was pretty easy to stay on track.

    We had brought the ice-axes as I remember a couple rock steps near the false summit being icy in the past, and given our troubles on Colvin last weekend, I figured better safe than sorry. As it turned out these sections were hard pack drifted snow with no ice whatsoever, after that I felt silly for having carried the axes.

    The wind on the false summit was gusting pretty good, and even with our faces covered, looking into the wind was cold enough to cause instant brain freeze, but the skies were beautiful, no clouds, no haze. It was hard to take pictures due to the cold and the wind, but it was just too pretty not to.

    After taking a few pictures we quickly bounded back into the trees on towards the actual summit of Colden. Back in the trees and out of the wind, it was once again easy going.

    We summitted just before noon along with a solo hiker that caught us on the false summit. Incredible views, but cold and windy, my thermometer read a balmy 4 degrees and the winds probably gusted to near 40 at times, especially facing west towards the Macs. We had toyed earlier with the idea of descending the south ridge and returning across avalanche lake, but the winds were relentless, and the route looked icy and wind-scoured. Plus the Lake Arnold trail was super-duper easy, so a quick descent back into warmer temperatures sounded better in our minds. We took a bunch of pictures and then down we went. Despite finding spots protect from the wind on the summit, the cold by itself started to set in after spending a few minutes standing still.

    The rest of the hike went uneventful. Less than 2 hours back to Marcy Dam, where we removed our snowshoes and jogged out back to the parking lot.

    Fantastic day, cold ... but that's why we invented the coat. It was one of those rare days where it was so clear you could see 100 miles, the reward for dealing with the cold and the wind was well worth it.

    I hope you all enjoyed the report, I'll post a few pictures later!

  • #2
    Nice report - looking forward to photos of that excellent view you must have had.
    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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    • #3
      Here is a small sampling of the photos from the day!

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/6438194...7632809554438/

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      • #4
        Nice pictures. It sounds like a great day.

        I carry my ice axe and crampons often and then the one day I left them home this year I wish I had them.

        This year hasn't been as icy as the last few yrs... consider ourselves lucky
        Not all those who wander are lost....JRR Tolkien

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        • #5
          Exactly What I Was Seeking

          Thanks for a great report! My best friend and I are doing a two night camp Mon - Wed next week, heading up Gothics, and your description of the conditions is just what I was looking for.

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