Posts Tagged ‘Alpine Zone’

Monday, May 23, 2022

The mountains are calling …

owls head mountain

“Mountains are our crystal ball,” John All, scientist and mountaineer writes in Icefall. “Understand them, and you get a glimpse of the planet’s future.”

All almost lost his life during an expedition to understand climate change in the world’s most remote places, the subject of his book, a source for my current research into the high peaks of the Adirondacks. He risks everything to tell stories of resilience and human adaptation.

These qualities of courage and perseverance are alive and well in those who steward the High Peaks Wilderness, subjects of my upcoming feature which will explore the history of protection for alpine ecosystems. Rare plant species persist after nearly becoming extinct because of foresight and dedication on behalf of organizations like the Adirondack Mountain Club. What lessons have we learned from past successes in protecting threatened species in unique ecosystems and how might we apply them to new climate challenges? This is what I’ll be looking to understand in the coming month.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Time To Reconsider An Old Idea, A High Peaks Permit System

Credit goes to the Department of Environmental Conservation and its Region 5 facilitators for including a “break-out” session on Permits at its late July High Peaks-Route 73 stakeholder meeting at the Keene Central School. After all, the very word “permit” has been an electrified “third rail” (hazardous, indeed) topic for years.

That was not always the case, however.  In 1978, the first draft of a High Peaks Unit Management Plan included a section on “individual user controls” with eight alternatives along a spectrum ranging from mandatory registration and reservation permit systems, to no controls at all. Alternative C, reservation or permit systems, stated that “through past experience the U.S. Forest Service has found that a permit system is one of the best ways of gathering user information concerning an individual management area.”

The 1978 draft UMP went on to recommend that a “free permit system should be initiated in the eastern High Peaks with no effort to limit numbers of people using the area for at least three years. Data will be analyzed. If at some time in the future it is determined that numbers of people using the area will have to be controlled, even just for certain high use weekends, the mechanism will already be in place to do so.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program Receives NYS Environmental Award

2016 environmental excellence awardsThe Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy have announced that the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program was awarded the New York State Environmental Excellence Award at a ceremony on November 15th at Union College.

The annual award is given by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in recognition of outstanding, innovative and sustainable projects or programs and unique partnerships that are contributing to a healthier environment and economy and serving as models of excellence. According to the DEC, award winners are an elite group of committed organizations leading by example as serving as models of excellence within their industry and community. » 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.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Julia Goren Receives Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award

Julia Goren The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has announced that Education Director Julia Goren received the 2016 Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award. This award is given annually to a person or organization who has demonstrated a long term commitment to protecting the physical and spiritual qualities of the mountain wilderness of the Northeast United States. Julia was recognized for her work protecting the alpine ecosystem and for mentoring the next generation of alpine stewards.

Julia joined ADK in 2004 as an Education intern and became botanist for the Summit Steward program in 2006. In 2008 she became the program’s first full-time Coordinator, and in 2014 she was promoted to Education Director. Julia works with ADK’s school programs, workshops, interpretive programs, Leave No Trace education, and oversees the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

A New Collection of Essays About The High Peaks

adirondack archangelsAfter more than a 25 years of protecting New York State’s alpine zone, the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program is being recognized in a new publication.

Adirondack Archangels: Guardians of the High Peaks, (Adirondack Mountain Club, 2016), is a collection of essays by and about individuals who have worked to protect the Adirondack Park and its highest peaks.

The collection is a tribute to the late Edwin H. “Ketch” Ketchledge, Ph.D., who in 1989 led the creation of the Summit Stewardship Program. It comprises thirty-nine essays and includes a foreword by celebrated writer Bill McKibben and over 250 photographs. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

APA Approves Whiteface Porcupine Lodge Project

Early Whiteface Mountain Trail MapThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Board has voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) to renovate the existing Porcupine Lodge located on top of Lookout Mountain.

The Lodge, a part of the original ski center, will be used by ski patrol and as a day-use only public warming hut and snack bar.  The APA Board found the proposal conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.  ORDA is authorized to begin work to ensure Porcupine Lodge is open for the 2015-2016 ski season. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

High Peaks Summit Stewards Mark 400k Interactions

summit_steward_ADKThe Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has announced that Summit Stewards interacted with their 400,000th hiker last week. Summit Stewards are naturalists who work at the top of mountains in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks educating hikers in an effort to prevent them from walking on or otherwise damaging New York’s rarest plants, those of the alpine zone.

The program began in 1990 and will reach an estimated 28,000 hikers at the tops of Mt. Marcy, Algonquin, Wright, Colden, Cascade, Haystack, Giant, Gothics, Basin and Saddleback this year. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DEC: Avoid Muddy Trails In High Peaks

DEC LogoThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging hikers to be cautious and postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 feet until mid-June.

DEC is asking hikers to avoid trails above 3,000 feet, particularly high elevation trails in the Dix, Giant, and High Peaks Wilderness Areas, due to muddy conditions and the potential damage hiking can cause to vegetation and soft ground. » Continue Reading.


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.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Project To Document The Alpine Zone

Alpine Zone SignAdirondack Almanack contributor (and Former Chief Summit Steward and Johns Brook Lodge Hutmaster) Brendan Wiltse’s crowd-sourced project to document and help protect the alpine zone plants in the High Peaks has just seven days left to meet its funding goal.

Wiltse has put together a unique photo project to benefit and promote the High Peaks Summit Steward Program, but he needs your help funding it.  Wiltse is planning to photograph and catalog the rare and endangered plant life in New York’s arctic alpine ecosystem.  You can learn more about the project and contribute as much as you want at his Indiegogo page.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

#507 Fund Honors Ketch, Protects Summits

Ketch with diapensia trainingIn August of 1968, Edwin Ketchledge finished climbing the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks and received his 46er number, #507. Dr. Ketchledge (“Ketch”) was no ordinary peak-bagger. He was a professor of botany at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, an active member of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), later a President of the 46ers, and a researcher very much interested in the fragile ecosystem found on the Adirondack High Peaks.

Dr. Ketchledge began experimenting ways to help the alpine ecosystem recover from trampling caused by hikers in 1967. His research began on the summits of Dix Mt. and Mt. Colden. He began by transplanting Deer’s hair sedge, one of the rare alpine species, to see if it could successfully colonize impacted areas. It could not. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Summit Steward Julia Goren: A Rare Alpine Flower

Julia Goren on SummitEvery June I try to make it up to the summit of either Algonquin or Marcy to take in the vibrant colors of the first alpine flowers in bloom.  I usually see lapland rosebay, a pink alpine rhododendron, or Diapensia, a deep green mound with petite white flowers.  If I make it over to Skylight I might even get a glimpse of the alpine azalea, a small, deep pink flower only found on Skylight’s summit.  I also usually see another alpine flower, one even more rare and colorful than the ones already mentioned.

This flower will talk to you about her special, fragile home and even answer your questions about which jagged peak you see off in the distance.  To many, this alpine flower’s name is Julia Goren, a human, but in the alpine ecosystem of New York, she could be considered the rarest and most beautiful alpine flower of them all. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Krummholz: The High Life of Crooked Wood

krummholzKrummholz is the original bonsai.

Stunted and gnarled, it grows in rugged environments: cliffs, mountaintops, canyon walls. Often very old, it inspires us with its tenacity in the face of harsh conditions.

The word krummholz means “crooked wood” in German. In the Northeast, when we speak of krummholz, we’re talking about the matted, dwarfed trees that circle the tops of some mountains, separating lower elevation full-size forests and true alpine areas. Balsam fir, black spruce, and heartleaf birch are the dominant species, standing no more than eight feet high. Sometimes they’re only knee high. Sometimes only ankle high. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Wintery Mount Marcy Snowscape

IMGP1154_2_3While on a mid-week ski tour in February 2009 I found the summit of Mount Marcy covered in untouched windblown snow.  It made for difficult skiing, but the shape and texture of the snow, along with a deep blue later afternoon sky, made for an excellent photograph.


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