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Dial & Nippletop, 11/17/18

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  • Dial & Nippletop, 11/17/18

    When does a hike become an adventure? Is it the conditions, the time, the weather, the company, a combination of any of those? I'm not necessarily sure this is quantifiable, but at some point yesterday, Dial and Nippletop, my go to seven-hour hike became one...

    I queried Fiddlehead late in the week about hiking this weekend, hoping to perhaps get him off the tree stand for a day of playing in the snow...I succeeded and without him I would not have gotten both peaks, such were the conditions we found...

    But first...arriving at the AMR just before seven, I ran into the Mr. MB who had wanted to get into the Garden, but found the lot unplowed. He opted for a bushwhack of Dial instead. Looking at the map together, I told him to shoot for Gravestone Brook...I'll give an update on how that went later on...

    Fiddlehead and I started just after 7 a.m., donning snowhoes at the AMR gate. The snow was wet, heavy, and already slow going, sticking to our snowshoes. Instead of heading into Elk Pass like I normally do, I proposed that we head up the Noonmark shoulder instead, hoping that with elle gain we would get better snow. Dean agreed and up we went, breaking trail. I should also note that no one had been into the AMR since 11/12, except for a ranger ski patrol the day before.

    Eventually, the snow started to get 'less' heavy, and we were overtaken by two guys moving fast. They had planned for DNCB. One had snowshoes, one only spikes. We got to the burn and then headed up Bear Den. Here, the snow started to get deeper and with only one person wearing snowshoes in front of us, the snow was mostly unconsolidated. We got to Dial at 1 p.m. with a screaming wind that got Dean down from the summit rock in about 20 seconds. The snow was blowing in our faces; it was quite unpleasant and we decided not to linger. After Dial, with deep snow and even deeper drifts, the post holes easily became four feet deep. It was hard for me to pack the snow the down into the holes, but we persevered. At 2:30 we were still a bump away from the Nippletop/Elk Pass col, but reckoned we'd have enough daylight to make it down Elk Pass. Dean said he thought he could occasionally hear the two guys in front of us. I always think I hear people (must be the voices in my head) so I just shrugged. It turned out to be true.

    When we reached the junction with Elk Pass it was untracked! We looked down it with anticipation of a clean descent. Onward to Nippletop where at the top of the false summit we saw the two guys just reaching the top. When we arrived, Dean asked if they were still headed to Colvin and Blake to which they replied no. I told the guy in snowshoes I felt for him as he was either walking in postholes or breaking trail and one just as difficult as the other. To the postholer, I said that walking through post holes was not my idea of fun. We quickly departed as Dean wanted to get down Elk Pass without them in front of us. I happily agreed.

    And down we went, in feet of heavy powder, anywhere from 3-4' of it. It was slow as the snow was still quite heavy and we had to be wary of what was underneath. Because there was no base, logs and roots were still a danger and we descended in the fading light, occasionally falling and sliding. About half way down Dean pondered if we should have gone back the way we came, but doing the up/down again would surely have taken more time. That is, unless the Gill Brook trail was unbroken as well.

    Around the pond and up and then down in the disappearing light. We knew we'd have to put on headlamps at the C&B junction and both us hoping beyond hope for a broken track back to the road. The day thus far had been exhausting. Normally, in November and early December we wear snowshoes for maybe an hour or two at elevation...not all day. Our muscles, not used to the weight, the motion, and the efforts required in deep snow were tiring, though I admit mine were completely toast after coming down Elk Pass.

    We came around the final corner to a well-tracked path! Thank you to the group of nine who did C&B! We followed their tracks back to the road in the dark, taking the entire Gill Brook trail, scenic sections and all. Now, the snow on the road was a little crunchy and my feet started screaming at me for the pounding they were taking. About a mile out, I stopped and told Dean I had to take my snowshoes off, but he gently coerced me into continuing with them, which I did till we hit the road. I even hugged the gate when it appeared in my headlamp.

    Nearly 12 hours had passed since we started. It was my longest and hardest Nippletop and Dial trip to date. Only April, July, and September remain for my two favorite peaks.

    Now for the update on the Mr. MB. He found heavy, waist deep snow along Gravestone Brook; the brook was not frozen enough for 'easier' travel. He was making about 200' per hour and realized at noon that he had another 600' of elle gain and at least three more hours to get to the col. He turned around for a 9 hour day.

    Conditions are tough. Very tough without a base and the legs for heavy snow and trail breaking.

    Kudos to Fiddlehead for coming out with me. November is the toughest month to hike in, IMHO, and this trip did not disappoint.

    -MB
    #8335W, Solo Winter 46
    ADK Quest #119
    ADK Fire Tower Challenge
    NE 111 113/115


    One list may be done, but the journey is far from over...
    Half Dome, 2009

  • #2
    It took me 11 hours in the summer with rest breaks on all the three summits. Thank you for the report. Someday I may just get dial in the winter. The drop to elk lake must have been bat ship crazy! Bare booting in those conditions should constitute a year hiking ban and fine.
    Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
    ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      The descent was absolutely crazy. Better than the ice that must have been underneath, though.

  • #3
    Thanks Christina for thinking of me and asking me to go. I appreciated your encouraging words in the fading light before we reached the Colvin junction as well. Fun times!

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      We made it!! That was the kick in the pants I needed. I feel renewed for my winter project!

  • #4
    Type 2 fun for sure! Good on you MB for pointing out the problems with postholing to the offender! :(

    Comment


    • moosebeware
      moosebeware commented
      Editing a comment
      I was as nice as I could possibly be. Dean asked him if he wished he brought his snowshoes... it made a tough day tougher.

  • #5
    Sounds similar to the conditions I found on Allen. Good job on getting them done... that sure was tough snow conditions!

    Comment


    • #6
      Good Job.
      I got to the Garden at 830 Saturday it was plowed at that time.
      Mr. MBs Truck may must have been what I saw at the Dix Round parking area.
      Don

      Comment


      • moosebeware
        moosebeware commented
        Editing a comment
        Mr. MBs car was at the AMR.

    • #7
      Thanks for the report. Dial via leach was my first winter hike in the adk, I had hoped for nip also that day but on my first snowshoe in the mountains I broke trail that day to dial with a few feet of snow, and that up and down and up and down and up burnt me out, and thinking back to that day I think my quads are getting sore just reading your report.
      just out of curiosity, that wasn't you this last march sharing trail with me for awhile on the way up to sawteeth, and we had a head-on with a hostile postholer who looked like Yukon Cornelius on his way back down? That was a memorable one.

      Comment


      • moosebeware
        moosebeware commented
        Editing a comment
        Don't think so. I don't have Sawteeth in March.

      • bikerhiker
        bikerhiker commented
        Editing a comment
        The snowshoer I was with turned around at the junction for pyramid, she didn't make the summit that day (I kept going from there but turned around about 0.2 from summit myself, I just couldn't make it).
        But I think the person I was with would remember that guy, if I remember right he called the two of us with snowshoes words and names my daughter most likely has never heard yet (all while he was completely trashing the trail and going down to his thighs).

    • #8
      That was a great trip report to read! Wow, what a challenging and adventurous day. An enormous amount of snow has already piled up in the mountains and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.
      In Vermont this weekend there was 2' deep sections at about 3000 feet elevation. Makes for very slow ascents - however, I generally like the winter descents more though, you can glide a little bit and there's no impact.

      Comment


      • moosebeware
        moosebeware commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you. Nice. There was no glide coming down Elk Pass...we just sank into deep powder and stopped. It was physically exhausting.
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