Posts Tagged ‘Algonquin Peak’

Sunday, January 5, 2020

On Algonquin in Winter Bad Luck Can Be Fatal

Bad luck on the peak of Algonquin, the state’s second highest mountain, can be fatal in winter. On December 29th, 1979, a member of the Brooklyn College Outing Club took a fall just shy of the summit. Tremendous pain shot through the shoulder of 18-year-old Michael Boxer.

Thankfully his legs were unaffected, and he was able to walk for a time before rangers arrived, stabilizing the injury and carrying him out to minimize the pain and more safely navigate the terrain. The swelling was severe and upon arriving at the hospital, it was learned the shoulder was dislocated.

The rangers I spoke to for this article – 40 years after it happened – can’t remember many details from that rescue, but they do remember Michael Boxer by name and the search for him on the same mountain, 371 days later. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Climber, Hikers, Skiers Rescued by Adirondack Forest Rangers

DEC Forest RangerNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Two Hikers Found Alive After Two Days In High Peaks

UPDATE: DEC has released video of the summit helicopter rescue here.

Two hikers who had been missing in the High Peaks since Sunday have been found alive.

Blake Alois, 20, and Madison Popolizio, 19, both of Niskayuna, a suburban town west of Albany, were found less than a quarter mile from the summit of Algonquin Peak at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The two were located by Forest Ranger Scott Van Laer and Lake Placid climber Don Mellor, who were among dozens of professional searchers looking for the pair. A state police helicopter transported them to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where they were treated for cold-related injuries.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Alpine Plants on High Peaks Summits in Jeopardy

alpine floraThe growing number of hikers in the High Peaks in recent years has heightened concern for the fragile alpine vegetation found on many of the summits.

If the number continues to increase, summit stewards charged with educating hikers may find themselves overwhelmed, said Julia Goren, the Adirondack Mountain Club’s education director.

“I don’t think we’ve lost ground yet,” said Goren, who heads the summit-steward program. “But I do think it’s not hyperbolic that we’re kind of at a tipping point where there’s not much more we can take before there’s going to be some kind of loss. One summit steward can’t talk to six hundred people in a day and make sure that people are respecting every patch of alpine vegetation.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Injured Hiker Rescued In Adirondack High Peaks

DEC Forest RangerNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of a recent mission carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

High Peaks: From Algonquin Over Boundary Peak To Iroquois

Algonquin-peakI learned that Emily wanted to do a big hike, something spectacular. It didn’t take me long to hit on the idea of climbing Algonquin Peak and Iroquois Peak and returning by way of Avalanche Lake.

We would go over the summit of the second-highest mountain in the state, follow a mile-long open ridge with breathtaking views, descend a steep but beautiful trail, and scramble along the shore of a lake whose sublimity never fails to astound. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Early Morning Light on Algonquin

Brendan Wiltse-150725050421This photo was taken just at sunrise from the summit of Wright Peak. I left the Adirondak Loj trailhead at just before 3 am so that I would arrive at the summit well before sunrise. While the sunrise its was beautiful, I found the blue early morning light on the face of Algonquin quite appealing.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Are Snowshoes, Microspikes Damaging Alpine Zones?

BW - Algonquin Snowshoe Trail Close(1)The last several years have seen a boom in winter hiking in the Adirondacks.

The Adirondack Mountain Club and Adirondack 46ers both report more people on the trails in the High Peaks Region. Along with this hiking boom there’s been an increasing number of winter traction devices hitting the market. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

An Adirondack Sunrise From Algonquin Peak

Adirondack Sunrise

Sometimes you just get lucky. Waking up at 2 am to hike Algonquin Peak to watch the sunrise is always a bit of gamble. I’ve done it on several occasions and more than once I arrived on the summit only to find the entire view obscured in clouds. Weather forecasts are only reliable to a certain extent in the mountains. On this particular day the view was clear, except for distance clouds on the eastern horizon. This had the effect of filtering much of the sunlight, allowing one to observe the sun in great detail. I was glad I had brought a short telephoto lens with me this morning as the composition with the hills in the foreground was much more compelling than a wide angle view.


Monday, June 16, 2014

High Peaks In The Clouds

Algonquin summit

Mount Colden and Mount Marcy, seen from Algonquin’s summit as morning clouds start to clear Sunday morning. The MacIntyre Range has some of the best views in the Adirondacks.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

High Peaks Nostalgia: Stories I’ll Never Forget

Frozen Colden and MarcyRecently an article about the end of another Adirondack custom caught my eye.  Apparently, the Adirondack Forty-Sixers are ending their traditional journal requirement for aspiring members. Typically, these colorful entries chronicled each member’s personal journeys while climbing the High Peaks.

The Forty-Sixers is a hiking organization, requiring the climbing of the forty-six Adirondack High Peaks for membership. The High Peaks were first designated by George and Robert Marshall, and defined as any summit of 4,000 feet or more above sea level elevation, with at least 300 feet of vertical rise on all four sides and at least 0.75 miles from the nearest peak. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Adirondack Winter: It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

Sunshine, melting snow, mild temperatures—it sure felt like spring this past weekend. But not everywhere.

On Saturday, I climbed the Trap Dike and the slide on the northwest face of Mount Colden. The snow throughout the ascent was hard, like Styrofoam, ideal for ascending with crampons. When my foot did break through the crust one time, I sank up to my thigh.

The trip served as a reminder that winter lingers in the high elevations long after spring arrives in the valleys. If you’re willing to carry your equipment two or three miles over muddy trails at the start, you sometimes can ski Mount Marcy into May.

Spring skiing is great fun if you catch the right conditions. Ideally, the nights are cold enough that the snowpack remains hard, but the temperatures climb enough during the day to soften the surface. If snow remains too firm, you’ll have a hair-raising descent. If it softens too much, you’ll be sinking into mashed potatoes.

A friend of mine snowboarded Algonquin Peak and Wright Peak on the day I climbed the Trap Dike. In photos posted on Facebook, his friends are seen crossing an open brook with skis over their shoulders. This kind of thing is typical of the approaches in spring.

A few years ago, I did the Algonquin/Wright trip with four others and wrote about it for the Adirondack Explorer in a story headlined “Winter’s last redoubt.” If you’re interested in reading a detailed account of spring adventure, click here to see the story and Susan Bibeau’s photos.

Spring skiing leads to odd juxtapositions. I once skied Marcy and played golf on the same day. Other times, I drove to Albany after a ski trip and saw flowers in bloom, with temperatures in the seventies. If you tell people you went skiing on a day like that, they look at you funny.

Indeed, many people do not realize how long winter hangs on in the High Peaks. On a warm day in April, I once encountered a hiker on the plateau below Marcy’s summit, sinking to his knees with each step. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing snowshoes, as required by law. He informed me that “the season is over”—referring, I suppose, to the skiing/snowshoeing season.

I’m skiing and you’re sinking up to your knees in snow, but the season is over?

Another day, I started out from the Adirondak Loj in a T-shirt. The temperatures must have been in the sixties, and it got warmer as the day progressed. Nevertheless, when I got to Marcy’s summit cone, the wind-chill made it feel well below freezing. I put on my winter layers. Meanwhile, a hiker was struggling up the slope in shorts, looking miserable but determined to get to the top.

So if you’re planning to climb a High Peak in April or early May, don’t be misled by the mild weather at the trailhead. Winter can be nasty, even in spring.

Photo by Susan Bibeau: skiers ascending Algonquin Peak in spring.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Extreme Adirondack Cross-Country Skiing

One of my favorite winter trips is what one might call “extreme cross-country skiing.” That is, skiing on routes that aren’t generally considered by the cross-country community. Routes you won’t find in Tony Goodwin’s Classic Adirondack Ski Tours.

Some of these routes are long and committing. Others require the use of snowshoes or skins (unless you’re a member of the Ski-To-Die Club, a group of locals who took extreme skiing to a new height by taking wooden cross-country skis in the 1970s down mountain descents that would give most people on modern alpine gear pause).
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adirondack Weather: A Wet Break From Winter

Amazing how fast the winter landscape can change. On Sunday we were hiking Algonquin in the High Peaks, with winds so strong rime ice formed on our clothes as we made for the summit.

A day later, Roaring Brook Falls looked like Niagara, as 1.5 inches of rain turned the Adirondacks into a tropical rainforest with snow.

While the weather put a damper on winter sports, it shouldn’t take long to get things back to normal, say those in the business.

Gore posted this on their Web site on Tuesday: “Although recent severe weather in the Northeast has limited the opening of several trails today, please stay tuned because groomers and snowmakers are getting Gore back in great shape as soon as possible!”

Meanwhile, Whiteface optimistically described its frozen, rain-saturated snow as “loose granular,” and promised 73 trails a day after the storm. No doubt, both mountains will be blowing snow to improve the damage, and snow showers predicted over the next few days may help make the slopes more user-friendly.

As far as backcountry skiing, you’d better be good. “Those trails are going to be really ice,” said Ed Palin, owner of Rock and River guide service in Keene. “It will be fast.”

Speaking of ice, the rain decimated some of the most popular ice climbs in the park. But other routes — those not below major runoff channels, or fat enough to withstand the one-day warm spell, should still be climbable, he said.

“With all this water running, we might get some climbs we don’t see for a while,” he said. In the meantime, good bets for climbers include Multiplication Gully, Crystal Ice Tower and the North Face of Pitchoff, he said.


Monday, January 4, 2010

The Problem With The Wright Peak Ski Trail

The Wright Peak Ski Trail is a testament to the lure of down-mountain skiing in the backcountry despite the existence of lift-service resorts.

Cut in the late 1930s, the trail switchbacks down the northeast side of Wright, providing a thrilling and challenging descent through a beautiful forest. After World War II, the trail fell into disuse and became overgrown, but in the late 1980s, Tony Goodwin and other backcountry skiers received permission from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to reopen it.

The trail is now featured in David Goodman’s guidebook Backcountry Skiing Adventures: Vermont and New York, published by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

The problem is that the ski route ends after a mile and joins the popular Algonquin Peak hiking trail. This means skiers must descend a few miles on trails often crowded with snowshoers. It seems like an accident waiting to happen. The snowshoers probably don’t like this any more than the skiers do.

What most snowshoers don’t realize is that this section of the Algonquin trail was once part of the ski trail. In those days, hikers went up Algonquin by a separate trail located a little to the north. In the early 1970s, however, DEC closed this trail and moved hikers to the ski trail. Since then, the old ski trail has been maintained with hiking in mind: water bars have been dug, rock steps have been created, brush has been laid down to narrow the passage—all of which makes the trail less suitable for skiing. What’s more, hikers have eroded the trail and exposed boulders that create dangerous obstacles.

Goodwin has come up with what seems like a sensible solution: reopen the old hiking trail for skiing. Under his proposal, the old hiking route would be clipped to its original width. Eroded sections would be filled with logs and brush. The trail would be smooth when covered with snow but remain gnarly enough to discourage hiking in other seasons. As it is, some hikers continue to use the old trail, causing erosion.

“We want to improve it for skiing but make it less desirable for hiking,” Goodwin told the Adirondack Explorer last year. “That would be a win-win situation.”

Goodwin said the volunteers would do all the work to reopen and maintain the trail, so it wouldn’t cost DEC a penny.

Yet DEC has scotched the proposal—not because it’s a bad idea, necessarily, but because it would require an amendment to the High Peaks Wilderness unit management plan. DEC doesn’t want to revisit the High Peaks plan until it finishes the UMPs for other Forest Preserve units.

Given DEC’s chronic shortage of staff, however, it will be years, perhaps more than a decade, before the other plans are done. DEC was supposed to complete all the unit management plans in the 1970s, but more than thirty years later, we’re still waiting on a dozen or so. In addition, DEC is writing recreational plans for vast tracts protected by conservation easements.

In short, we all could be dead or in retirement homes before DEC gets around to evaluating Goodwin’s proposal—if it ever does.

The same goes for proposals for trails in other parts of the Forest Preserve. The Adirondack Ski Touring Council has talked for years of extending the Jackrabbit Ski Trail from Saranac Lake to Tupper Lake. DEC won’t rule on this until it completes the management plan for the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. When will that be? No one knows.

One purpose of the management plans is to ensure that trails are not approved willy-nilly, without due forethought to their impact on the Forest Preserve. But the system is broken. Because DEC lacks the staff to write these plans, proposals wither on the vine or languish for decades. Surely, there must be a way for DEC to evaluate worthy ideas more quickly without neglecting its duty to protect the Preserve.

Perhaps there are sound reasons for rejecting Goodwin’s proposal for the Wright Peak Ski Trail, but it deserves a hearing.

Photo of skiers on Wright Peak by Susan Bibeau/Adirondack Explorer.



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.