Jump to content

Neil

Members
  • Content Count

    528
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    5

Everything posted by Neil

  1. 3/9/2018 – Santanoni and Little Santanoni – Start: 7:03 AM Finish: 7:54 PM Glen all smiles in his natural element. Glen, Bill B. and I began the long walk up the Bradley Pond Trail near 7a.m. on a mild Friday morning. It was snowing and had snowed enough in the past 48 hours to let us know what the Santa Direct would be like. We were just behind of a large group of young people and their teacher. They had plans to do the 3 peaks and descend via the direct. I was skeptical given the new snow, the difficulties they would surely encounter and the inertia-inducing size of their group. Santanoni Direct trail. Some breaking required. We enjoyed the well-packed trail they made until we veered onto the Direct, which we quickly lost, then found and stayed on until the flat area below the final steep ascent. The snow was deep and we switched leads every one hundred feet of vertical ascent. It was slow going and hard work, even when you were in the tail position. We lost the trail several times but quickly found it again thanks to 3 pairs of eyes. Just below the rock wall. Snow depth increasing. We made the junction to the main herd path and immediately turned down towards the final col about 500 feet below. We were on and off the herd path, mostly on. There were no traces of it under the new snow but sometimes we could feel it. From the col it was 2.2 miles to Little Santa. We began the 1,000 drop in very thick and steep woods. I was going first and pushed hard getting a full-body workout while being showered copiously with granular snow. As expected the woods opened up quickly and we followed the seams and open lanes. Glen had his compass out and kept us on a 260M bearing, which was going to get us 80% of the way there. Oh Baby, I hate to go. Close to the top. Look at the snow! That’s why it’s called winter hiking! 500 feet below the Santa ridge, Bill decided to turn around. A tough decision that requires experience and wisdom. Glen and I continued, on and on through open woods with a few gnarly sections until it was time to switch bearings and begin the long ascent to L. Santa. After an initial steep climb of 350 feet we continued interminably with gentle ascending until the summit (GPS and visually confirmed) and immediately turned around, knowing we had a packed trail back to our vehicles. It was 2pm IIRC. After the out and back to Little Santa. Nothing like good old water. The re-climb of Santa was long and tiring but, always mindful of the next day’s more ambitious hike that was planned. We maintained a slow, energy conserving pace. When we got to Bill’s turnaround spot the going became much, much easier. We slowly made our way up, way up to the Direct junction. The large group had not done Santanoni but the trail was firm under the newly fallen fresh powder snow. We dropped packs and broke trail in deep powder to the summit, took a few pics and turned around. Dark and gloomy trail to Santanoni’s summit. It was cold, windy and incredibly eerie in the falling darkness with the trees plastered in snow and rime ice. We got out our headlamps and changed into dry, warm clothing, which was nirvana-inspiring! The fog was dense but you could perceive the gully and steep exposed rock to the left as you descended. Our in-bound trail was fading fast in the new snow but was nevertheless easy to follow. Take the picture and let’s go home. Glen on Santanoni for his 30th (???) time. Part-way down I stopped and changed my socks and put platsic bags over them. Time-consuming, but necessary, and good for another wave of nirvana. Down, down we went over a soft trail that spared the knees and required little effort. We arrived at the Bradley Pond trail, which was like getting onto the Northway and then we trudged and trudged back to the gate for a 12 and a half hour day. It was going to be a short night.
  2. The Sentinel Wilderness Unit houses 5 Hundred Highest Peaks. Pitchoff is the only trailed peak and I did it on my first day for peak number 3. This map shows the Unit quite clearly. We started the hike of Stewart a bit late due to human (ie. me) error in setting the alram clock. However, the extra hour’s sleep after a 12h30m hike in the Santanoni Range was salutary. At low elevation the going was quite easy through hardwood forests. Just when we crossed onto state land we saw a hunting blind. The owner had sawed off about 100 trees in the immediate vicinity, I imagine to create shooting lanes and encourage the growth of browse. We followed a compass bearing and came upon an old logging road that appeared well-maintained. The road followed a drainage and followed our compass bearing exactly. Then it stopped suddenly and we bushwhacked to the summit of Stewart through mostly open woods. Near the end it became very steep and David did a fantastic job of showing Jean and I how it’s done. We wandered a bit on the summit looking for the letter S carved into a tree and then I looked up and saw I was standing right next to it. Our next goal was a col 500 vertical feet below down across moderate slopes with the occasional steep drop. It did not go as easily as the appearance of the terrain suggested it should have. This was due to a very hard crust of ice under ball-bearing snow. We took turns going sprawling. Getting a grip (pun intended) was difficult. One of us swore copiously and with great acoustic volume. I began to re-consider my route plan to Sentinel, which involved a mile of steep side-hilling under the Sentinel’s NW ridge. I have drawn my originally intended route on this map. I had done this side-hilling in the opposite direction in summer and I remembered it as being very steep. Just as we began to round the ridge I conferred with Jean and we decided to go up onto the crest of the ridge and take our chances with it. On the map it looks like a good route but in reality I knew it could be very bad. Up on the crest we were exposed to very cold and insistent winds. Throughout most of the distance the woods were fairly open but the tight areas were brutal. We were very cold and wet and the wind was cruel. In spite of having dry changes of clothing we didn’t stop to change because doing so would have meant exposing ourselves to the cold winds. So, we kept pressing on. If one was in the lead he managed to keep ahead of feeling hypothermic but in 2nd position it was colder. We had to stop often to verify our navigation and make route choices (the ridge is not an obvious knife-edge) and ensure we were taking the best lines. At these times we immediately began shivering hard, too hard, but we preferred pushing on at the edge to changing clothes. I kept a sharp eye on myself and my mental faculties and asked Jean how he was doing regularly. David, whenever I checked him was his usual self. Topo looked quite green. We were aiming for a mini-col to the immediate NW of Sentinel. Near the col the woods opened right up and being in the lead, I charged through at high speed. But, when I stopped and verified my compass I saw I had unwittingly veered about 150 degrees off-course in less than 5 minutes! I believe it when I read that there is no such thing as a “sense of direction”. We had no choice but to turn towards the thick woods and tangled blowdown and expose ourselves to those bitter winds. And the wind was very strong now funneling through the col. The final couple hundred yards required a lot of intense focus, patience and extremely hard work through hallmark ADK cripplebrush. David asked me if this was in my top ten of difficult hikes. I didn’t respond but had long since considered it to be the toughest hike I have ever done. We finally made the summit and saw the sign but did not break stride. The woods opened right up and the wind was at our backs. We made 500 meters fairly quickly but I made a wrong turn (I was paranoid of “falling” off the ridge) and we descended something wicked steep and David nearly bought the farm. I called out, “don’t go down there as he was lying on his back, sliding feet downhill towards a 10 foot vertical drop and yelling to me, “I’m trying REAL hard not too”. Straight ahead I knew we would run into cliffs and so I led us downhill to the south and then I decided to curl northward under the cliffs and set us up to descend towards the ridge that leads to the Cobble. Well, I curled too early and we ended up descending the valley to the immediate north of the Cobble ridge. This turned out for the best (once the guys got me to accept it) and we had about 2 miles of easy trudging through wide open hardwoods sloping gently downhill to Bartlett Road. When we paused to put our headlamps on I finally changed into a dry base layer shirt, put on my puffy jacket, a dry shell, new mitts and shell mitts and one more hat. It felt incredibly good and I mentally castigated myself for not having done so 2 hours earlier. David’s presence of mind and 2 bars of cell signal resulted in Tmax picking us up on Bartlett Road and delivering us to our vehicles. While waiting for her I privately mused that I had 5 peaks still to do. Me two days later on the summit of Wilmington (96). Very mellow hike following Luc Labarre’s broken trail!
  3. 3/9/2018 – Santanoni and Little Santanoni – Start: 7:03 AM Finish: 7:54 PM Glen all smiles in his natural element. Glen, Bill B. and I began the long walk up the Bradley Pond Trail near 7a.m. on a mild Friday morning. It was snowing and had snowed enough in the past 48 hours to let us know what the Santa Direct would be like. We were just behind of a large group of young people and their teacher. They had plans to do the 3 peaks and descend via the direct. I was skeptical given the new snow, the difficulties they would surely encounter and the inertia-inducing size of their group. Santanoni Direct trail. Some breaking required. We enjoyed the well-packed trail they made until we veered onto the Direct, which we quickly lost, then found and stayed on until the flat area below the final steep ascent. The snow was deep and we switched leads every one hundred feet of vertical ascent. It was slow going and hard work, even when you were in the tail position. We lost the trail several times but quickly found it again thanks to 3 pairs of eyes. Just below the rock wall. Snow depth increasing. We made the junction to the main herd path and immediately turned down towards the final col about 500 feet below. We were on and off the herd path, mostly on. There were no traces of it under the new snow but sometimes we could feel it. From the col it was 2.2 miles to Little Santa. We began the 1,000 drop in very thick and steep woods. I was going first and pushed hard getting a full-body workout while being showered copiously with granular snow. As expected the woods opened up quickly and we followed the seams and open lanes. Glen had his compass out and kept us on a 260M bearing, which was going to get us 80% of the way there. Oh Baby, I hate to go. Close to the top. Look at the snow! That’s why it’s called winter hiking! 500 feet below the Santa ridge, Bill decided to turn around. A tough decision that requires experience and wisdom. Glen and I continued, on and on through open woods with a few gnarly sections until it was time to switch bearings and begin the long ascent to L. Santa. After an initial steep climb of 350 feet we continued interminably with gentle ascending until the summit (GPS and visually confirmed) and immediately turned around, knowing we had a packed trail back to our vehicles. It was 2pm IIRC. After the out and back to Little Santa. Nothing like good old water. The re-climb of Santa was long and tiring but, always mindful of the next day’s more ambitious hike that was planned. We maintained a slow, energy conserving pace. When we got to Bill’s turnaround spot the going became much, much easier. We slowly made our way up, way up to the Direct junction. The large group had not done Santanoni but the trail was firm under the newly fallen fresh powder snow. We dropped packs and broke trail in deep powder to the summit, took a few pics and turned around. Dark and gloomy trail to Santanoni’s summit. It was cold, windy and incredibly eerie in the falling darkness with the trees plastered in snow and rime ice. We got out our headlamps and changed into dry, warm clothing, which was nirvana-inspiring! The fog was dense but you could perceive the gully and steep exposed rock to the left as you descended. Our in-bound trail was fading fast in the new snow but was nevertheless easy to follow. Take the picture and let’s go home. Glen on Santanoni for his 30th (???) time. Part-way down I stopped and changed my socks and put platsic bags over them. Time-consuming, but necessary, and good for another wave of nirvana. Down, down we went over a soft trail that spared the knees and required little effort. We arrived at the Bradley Pond trail, which was like getting onto the Northway and then we trudged and trudged back to the gate for a 12 and a half hour day. It was going to be a short night.
  4. The trail was fast and hard and I made great time in micro-spikes to Skylight Brook where I switched to K-10's and tromped my way to Allen Brook. At this point my progress slowed considerably and I found the hike to be very sinister and almost evil in feeling. The steep brook flows down in a very narrow and steep-walled cut in the mountain-side. The ascent is steep and very wild and rugged. After miles of approach the feeling I had was one of loneliness and malevolent surroundings. My thoughts turned to my first hike of Allen with Dominic which didn't help. The slide was so steep (how could I have forgotten after so many trips up that peak?) and my K-10's barely bit into the hardened snow pack. I was very glad to have brought my ax but once again regretted not having full crampons. Above the slide the trail is so steep! I was feeling my two previous days of hiking and kept putting one foot in front of the other and heaving myself upwards. I used the ax in various ways to aid my progress, including hooking it around trees and pulling. I did not linger on the summit – no views anyway. The descent went much better than expected but, being alone and acutely aware of what a fall could result in, I took great care with every single step. Below the slide I was able to stride manfully and lose elevation quickly. I was at Skylight Brook in a twinkling. I took a different way across and the ice bridge collapsed and sent me sprawling in the deep and swift water of the brook. I was totally soaked from mid-torso to tips of toes. I calmly got my footing and the rest of the crossing was pretty easy! Haha! I was swearing (mentally) to make a sailor blush. On the other side I removed my pack and lay my fresh stuff out. Then I quickly removed my traction devices, boots, socks (2 pairs), shell pants, long underwear and underwear. Standing on the soaked footbeds that I pulled out of my boots I put on 2 new pair of socks, plastic bags (from Stewarts, no less!) and my synthetic puffy pants. With new footbeds inserted I pulled on and laced up my boots. Then I wrung out my wet stuff and shoved it into a plastic bag, put an extra wool hat on and took off up to the height of land. I kept my soaked jacket and base layer shirt on thinking that over Project -100 I had worn them just about as wet when bushwhacking and this turned out to be OK. Also in my pack but not used I had another base layer shirt, a puffy jacket and a heavy-duty synthetic belay jacket plus other mitts and hats. All of my extra gear was inside a rolled up and tightly cinched dry bag inside my pack. The hike out was long of course but the total time was just under 9 hours including the delay at Skylight Brook. I decided that I would not hike Street and Nye the next day. 02/25/2018 - Allen Mountain - Start: 8:03 AM Finish: 4:51 PM
  5. I jumped at the opportunity to do this difficult trio of peaks with two superstars. We met at the Garden at 5:30 and spiked our way across mud and ice to Johns Brook Lodge. From there it was all snow. Our threesome became a quartet when ___ joined us. He was doing Haystack alone to finish his 46W. The rocks on Horse Hill were coated in a layer of verglas so we knew what was coming. Indeed Little Haystack did not disappoint and I regretted bringing K-10's instead of my Black Diamond crampons. The “rock funnel” near the bottom of Little Hay was sketchy but not crazy, although instead of front-pointing down, facing in, I opted for a riskier leap of faith onto a postage-stamp-sized snow patch. My partners, god bless them were, positioned to catch me if I blew it and went sailing into the wild white yonder. We definitely smelled the roses on this ascent, taking our sweet time, appreciating every nuance that the rock, ice and incredible lighting offered us. Back at the junction we had a bite of food and faced our next challenge: Mighty Basin. And neither did it disappoint. The ice was definitely “in” and above the ladder I felt inadequate in my K-10's while the real climbers killed it gleefully and seemingly sans effort. The descent of Basin was easy on snow that had been post-holed miserably from the looks of things. The post-holes we used as stairs and gained the wall of Saddleback with no issues at all. The wall looked fairly dry but I opted for the stress-free Chicken Route and the guys didn't care one way or the other. I needed a helping hand at the crux but otherwise the route was straightforward. Quite amazing the route was as it followed the base of the cliff, rising steeply upwards and somewhat awesome under all that tannin-stained ice. We enjoyed hot cocoa and homemade cookies in the warming hut for 30 minutes before trudging back to the parking lot. As soon as I got back to my “winter home” at 'Scoots' loft I went into getting ready mode once again. Pictures 02/24/2018 - Haystack, Basin, & Saddleback - Start: 6:32 AM Finish: 7:42 PM
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Articles - News