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CBND - Nov 30, 2019

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  • CBND - Nov 30, 2019

    This classic quadruple peak hike has been on my radar for quite some time. I needed Colvin and Blake for my autumn round, and this seemed like a good way to fit them in. Originally I intended to hike it solo, but after barely keeping up to some fit young folk half my age on Allen a few weeks ago, I put out the call for recruits. Eric was the only one crazy enough to join me, though perhaps the others had excuses since people that age need generally have more important things to do like studying for final exams. Deb and Paul decided to join us for the first part of the hike so that made a group of four, with two independent teams.

    We pulled into the AMR at 07:00 and was surprised by the amount of snow on the ground. We had not intended to carry snowshoes, but with the conditions looking like they were right in front of us thoughts turned to how deep it could potentially be up higher. We strapped the shoes to our pack, figuring if nothing else it would be good training weight, and struck out briskly down the road from the parking area. At the gate, Lake Road was a sheet of ice, so microspikes were the tool of the day, and these were the appropriate equipment choice over the entire day. Gill Brook trail was pretty as always, but we did not linger along here as I normally would since there was a lot of ground to cover.

    We stuck together to the junction, took a quick fuel break and then started ascending the steep trail towards Colvin. Paul and Deb were slowing down here, so after a short discussion we decided to split up now so that Eric and I could keep moving. We scampered the rest of the way to Colvin's summit, pulling out the ice axes for a couple of the scrambles. The Colvin step had a poorly tied rope set up as an aid... trust this with your weight to your own peril. We pulled up with axes buried in the ice, using the rope only for balance. The summit vista was glorious in the bluebird day, however a stiff wind kept our visit very short. Deb and Paul arrived just as we were turning towards Blake, and they decided to call this their turn around point.

    The scoot over to Blake went quickly. I ditched my snowshoes under a rock part way down the south side of Colvin, since it was clear at this point that they were nothing but dead weight on my pack that seemed to have an affinity for catching on branches at awkward moments. We met a couple other solo hikers along here, one of them warning us that the tracked trail stopped on the false summit. We arrived on this peak, and sure enough, only one set of boot prints continued on from here to the normally accepted rock-in-a-clearing top of the mountain. This place made a very convenient sheltered spot for our first real break of the day, and we sat down on said rock for a sandwich.

    After retrieving my snowshoes and climbing back over Colvin we decended very quickly back to the junction. Taking stock of the weather (perfect), time of day (13:00), our moods (keen), and body performance (no serious complaints), Nippletop was still a go. We hiked through Elk Pass, stopping briefly to admire this pretty place, and then began the climbing. It got a little bit icy, and since Eric was keen to try out some new crampons, we switched to more serious footgear, hoping it got icier. This turned out to be way overkill (kind of goes with the theme of carrying snowshoes in three inches of snow), but gave us some good early season practice of doing the duck walk. Nevertheless, we crunched all the way up to the summit, seeking the most direct lines up the icy parts, simply to justify wearing the things. After a few photos on the top looking out at the magnificent vista of the Great Range, we descended a bit to a tiny little area with a view of Dix, which was sheltered from the wind and we sat down for a second short sandwich break.

    After eating, I packed up, de-layered for movement and waited while Eric was furkling some gear. I was not dressed for standing, so moved a little down the trail to a warmer, sunny sheltered spot and waited. Several minutes later, Eric had still not shown so I climbed back up to find him still furkling with his pack. It became clear that he was starting to get the umbles. I helped get the pack sorted, him dressed, and then we were moving fast. I started jogging down the trail, and to my relief he was keeping up. After fifteen minutes of this, we both were warm again and stopping to delayer. A good lesson in how quickly hypothermia can set in, and to keep an eye out for your partner.

    The climb up Dial was a slog. Mostly because of fatigue now, but also because we encountered a lot of blowdown along here. Crawling under trunks and branches with snowshoes and axes tied on the packs was awkward to say the least. We hit the top of Dial just before sunset, and stopped briefly to take in the view. Then it was off towards the next two sick jokes (Bear Den and Noonmark shoulder), which were climbed wearily with the headlamps on. The descent down to Lake road was lovely, as the soft snow in the open woods allowed us to boot ski alongside the trail, dropping loads of elevation very quickly. Once on AMR land, the snow pretty much disappeared and I even shed my spikes to hike the last stretch of mostly bare trail down to the road. Home free now, we crunched along in spikes on the icy road under the starlight, finally arriving at the car after an 11.5 hour day.

    A few pics taken when the camera was not frozen:
    http://web.ncf.ca/mbowler/hiking/adk...2019/cbnd.html

  • #2
    Thanks for the report, this seems like an ambitious hike given the conditions! Looks like there isn't much snow to smooth out the trail.

    About crampons v. microspikes, how much more traction do you get with crampons? I get that they have front teeth, which might be useful for climbing, but don't they get in the way the rest of the time?

    Comment


    • mbowler
      mbowler commented
      Editing a comment
      Microspikes are basically useless on angled (maybe 25 degree or more) hard ice. Crampons will basically hold on anything. They are not without drawbacks though... do not try running or glissading in them!

  • #3
    The conditions on-trail were perfect for spikes it sounds like. What about off-trail? Deeper snow but with no foundation? Ie. great for entangling ones snowshoes in the underbrush while providing no flotation?

    Comment


    • mbowler
      mbowler commented
      Editing a comment
      There was probably 3 or 4 inches of crusty snow everywhere. Off trail, boots without spikes would be fine. This trip was before the storm on Sunday afternoon though, so I imagine everything is different now.

  • #4
    mbowler,

    Terrific report and photos. Great to hear you and your partner made it back safely. Kudos to you for looking out for your partner. I now recognize an additional quirky behavior I have shown while winter hiking with your descriptor, "furkling". A worthy addition to the "Umbles": Stumbles, Mumbles, Grumbles, Fumbles and Furkling!"

    Comment


    • #5
      Eddie not all crampons have front points. Nice trip report and sounds like it was fun yet adventurous and I'm glad you were paying attn to your friend. Too often it happens someone doesn't then the real trouble begins. The pics bring back good memories. Thanks.

      Comment


      • #6
        Nice Job.

        My first December CBND is still memorable. I think it was Dec 19. On that day I wore crampons much of the day. I didn't have snowshoes or spikes. There was a big step not far downhill from Colvin (toward Blake) where I needed them - I just couldn't get up it. My other memories was post holing through snowdrifts on the way to Dial hopeing (and being right) that I was on the trail. And in the dark with overhanging trees in the trail between Dial and Bear Den. Then being very tired at the base of Bear Den just before climbing to The Burn on my knees several minutes psyching myself up for the last climb.

        Don

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