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a successful attempt at Iroquois 1/21

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  • a successful attempt at Iroquois 1/21

    At the loj at 8 AM (I overslept) it is -27 Celcius. Three people(2 groups) have written they are going up Algonquin with one hardy person attempting Iroquois. The trail is packed and the new snow on the trees is lovely. I pass 2 people early on and am following the intredpid person heading to Iroquois. At the first icy section I don crampons. Above tree line a ferocious wind from the Northwest keeps me hunched over. There is little snow just hard crusty ice. As I start down Algonquin despite a hat, neck/face warmer, a fleece hood and goretex hood my right ear and cheek go numb and the ice looks like sand on a beach, frozen ripples. I am thinking--"this is really stupid". As soon as I start over Boundary 2+ feet of unbroken powder simply appears. The trees are snow crusted and look innocuous--as if they are only 18 inches tall. I am dismayed-- spruce traps await. I follow the tracks of the other hiker, sometimes on the herd path and then not. At first I don't switch to snowshoes. I am concerned about being stuck up to my waist in a spruce trap alone in these conditions, but the snow is so deep that I have no choice. Still short of Boundary, the other hiker, Laura, appears having given up and turned around. She is willing to try again so we decide to forge on together. I just did this peak in August and can tell where we need to start our climb up Iroquois. We are mostly not on the herd path; we are mostly walking over the tops of trees. Finally the ice on Iroquois seems a blessing. We move on a diagonal right to left between the 2 rock cliffs and about 100 ft from the summit we encounter frozen tracks, swept free of snow--the first tracks we have seen. Then we are at the cairn and ecstatic. The return is easier. We stop and eat and change back to crampons before reclimbing Algonquin. The wind has abated some and the sun delights though it barely warms. Laura rewards me with "handwarmers." The scars tissue on my right hand has become very sensative to the cold and I have been in pain for most of the return. During our walk to Iroquois snowshoers have been up Algonquin and packed out a solid trail. We meet them at the Wright junction. We are cavalier and think Wright will be easy after our trek to Iroquois. The snow packed trail deceives us. Thin ice and slick rock make the last 2/10ths treacherous. Our crampons barely bite (true, I need to sharpen mine). We walk out at around 4 where it is now -16 Celcius. Laura gives me a big piece of chocolate cake and drives off to find a motel with a bathtub and no stairs. I change and drive home to Vermont to read Francis Bacon's "The New Atlantis" for class. 26, 27, 28. When I did Algonquin this summer during my first round of 46ing, it was one of my least favorite peaks. Even though I got to the summit early, multiple parties with cell phones had me grumbling; sunk in an anti-social funk I just kept going to Iroquois where I could still hear all the chatter. Yesterday was truly as fine a day as I have spent in the mountains and standing on Iroquois in the sun, in the wind, in the snow, looking out at Marshall and Colden I have made peace with the McIntyre range. Now, anybody want to Redfield and Cliff?

  • #2
    Excellent report and hike! It sounds like you and Laura got some hiking synergy going. My wife did Wright yesterday so you probably passed her and her friend as you scooted up. That area between Algonquin and Iroquois isn't easy. Snow seems to accumulate there. Lots of mud in the summer, too.


    • #3
      Damm, now I want to go back I knew sunday was a much better day for it, sounds like you had a good hike. I remember doing Iriquois in the summer and the trail between the summits were mudpuddles but it was neat how a narrow trail between the pines exists and followed. I got a great picture of Al at the giant cairn on Iriquois with Algonquin looming in the background..


      Life is a short, warm moment
      And death is a long cold rest.
      You get your chance to try in the twinkling of an eye:
      Eighty years, with luck, or even less.
      -Pink Floyd


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kerry View Post
        Now, anybody want to Redfield and Cliff?
        Yes, and Yes! Send me a note, and we can discuss. Maybe it will be as nice as Colvin and Blake last Winter....