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By Chris72
From New York, NY
Nov 17, 2012
Hey guys - I'm planning on heading up to the Adirondacks for the first time in mid December. I'm looking to spend about 3 days, 3 nights out. Anyone have any recommendations? Nothing technical. Right now I'm looking at a great range traverse...

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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Nov 17, 2012
GRT is awesome. If you haven't been to the area before, that's a great place to start.

Hauling a pack over it in the winter would be miserable, and also awesome.

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By BWIce
From Carlisle, PA
Nov 17, 2012
North face of long's.
I would imagine some sections of the GRT would be quite technical in the winter. Going the direction of rooster-comb to Marcy, the climb up Armstrong, down Gothics and then down either saddleback or basin (I can't quite remember which one) would be harry. Maybe I'm just too cautious (Fil would probably agree on that one), but I would say that is a pretty committing trip for your first go at the Daks in the winter. Once you're on the ridge proper, you're committed to the trip with some harry down-climbs in both directions and full exposure to the gnarly weather.

For some, a solo trip up marcy alone (8 or 9 miles from the trailhead, depending on which way you come in) is quite an accomplishment in three days in the winter. I remember my first winter trip up there consisted of stumbling around in the woods with snowshoes amazed at how much wilderness there is to get lost in.

With that said, it is a magical place and I'm sure you'll find a good amount of fun and adventure wherever you decide to go.

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By Drake Pregnall
From Morehead, KY
Nov 17, 2012
Leading up Eat Yourself A Pie 5.8+ at Barkeater in the Adirondacks
Plenty of awesome stuff in the Dacks besides the High Peaks, but if you do want a good continuous hike, the great range is an awesome choice. I would suggest starting at the Ausable Club and ending at the Loj. You can definitely fill up 3 good days with that stretch. You would probably be able to hit UWJ, LWJ, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, Skylight, and Marcy. Some good wilderness back there no doubt. Have fun and be safe.

By the way, if you wanted to have an easier and less committing or intense introduction the Adirondacks, I would suggest hiking a portion of the Northville Placid Trail. Less exposure, less elevation, but still definitely enjoyable.

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By Valerie Bachinsky
From West Sand Lake, NY
Nov 17, 2012
Roger's Rock, Lake George, NY
Mid-December in the Adirondack High Peaks can be tough as conditions can vary widely. You could encounter everything from snow-free icy trails to a grueling amount of snow to break trail through. I would suggest checking conditions closer to your planned trip and making a final decision as where to go then.

A few good sites to check for conditions and hiking info:

VFTT - NY conditons

ADK forum - general adk info

ADK High Peaks - more specific to high peaks area

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 18, 2012
Rumney
Chris72 wrote:
Hey guys - I'm planning on heading up to the Adirondacks for the first time in mid December. I'm looking to spend about 3 days, 3 nights out. Anyone have any recommendations? Nothing technical. Right now I'm looking at a great range traverse...


You would NOT want to do the great range traverse in the winter unless you like punishing yourself for no reason. Did it once, as most do, as a long summer dayhike near the solstice. Doing it during the Winter Solstice ensures a lot of bored, dark, cold time around camp (no fires in the eastern high peaks). Not to mention the likely icy, muddy, wet, and snowy conditions. Camping is also VERY limited along the ridge trail and will require climbing down quite a ways to get into sub-3,500' terrain to pitch a tent/hammock. IMO just not worth it.

You may want to familiarize yourself with the regulations. It's not a free for all out there.

dec.ny.gov/regs/13942.html#139...

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 18, 2012
Rumney
If you really want to camp there's places like the Tongue Mountain range (Lake George) that offer the convenience of lean-tos, camp fires, and have rugged enough terrain to maintain that adventure feel. If camping isn't critical there's several hostels and hotels/motels in the Keene --> Lake Placid corridor. Keene Valley hostel being the most highly recommended. If you're an AAC member there's a place to stay for cheap as well. If you don't camp it opens up a lot of day hiking opportunities limited only to the vehicle you drive/road conditions.

December can be zero snow in the valleys and feet of snow on top. Can also be feet of snow i nthe valleys and several feet on the tops. The last few years have been drier and warmer, so snow has been more scarce than in the past. The elevated terrain in New Hampshire and Maine are probably the only sure bets on finding consistent Winter in December.

There's a ton of hiking throughout the 6 million acres of the Park. You really need to decide what's most important and then narrow down things from there. Mountains? Camping? Lean-to? 5 miles or 15 /day?

Drake Pregnall wrote:
By the way, if you wanted to have an easier and less committing or intense introduction the Adirondacks, I would suggest hiking a portion of the Northville Placid Trail. Less exposure, less elevation, but still definitely enjoyable.


Good advice, but would require some type of car staging or shuttle since there's no loop.

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By Nathan Stokes
Nov 18, 2012
Once Hunting season closes and the Elk Lake Approach to the Dix range is open again, a Dix Traverse is a good way to burn 3 days. Stay in Lean-tos in the valley, do the ridge in a day. Downside, the ridge is not a marked trail, depending on the conditions route finding can actually take some skill. The upsides is fires are allowed in Dix Mountain Wilderness.

Dix traverse can also be done from Round Pond, there is a lean-to about 5 miles in (IIRC, i've always day hiked it).

Option 3 is camp in the Marcy Dam area for the duration and do things like Marcy, Colden, the MacIntyres from Lake Colden.

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 18, 2012
Rumney
Nathan Stokes wrote:
Once Hunting season closes and the Elk Lake Approach to the Dix range is open again, a Dix Traverse is a good way to burn 3 days. Stay in Lean-tos in the valley, do the ridge in a day. Downside, the ridge is not a marked trail, depending on the conditions route finding can actually take some skill. The upsides is fires are allowed in Dix Mountain Wilderness. Dix traverse can also be done from Round Pond, there is a lean-to about 5 miles in (IIRC, i've always day hiked it). Option 3 is camp in the Marcy Dam area for the duration and do things like Marcy, Colden, the MacIntyres from Lake Colden.


+1 -- great ideas.

He's right about the trailless peaks being slightly harder to navigate, especially with leaf litter and possibly snow filling in tracks when the wind kicks up. I've done peaks that showed no signs we had broken trail on them the day before! But hey, that's part of hiking in the winter. If you're not sure, turn back.

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By Drake Pregnall
From Morehead, KY
Nov 18, 2012
Leading up Eat Yourself A Pie 5.8+ at Barkeater in the Adirondacks
Another good hostel a little closer to the ADK Loj trailhead is Tmax and Topos Hostel. They're both avid hikers themselves actually and would definitely be able to give you valuable advice and conditions reports.

Perhaps yet another option for at least two days and one night would be to do the Seward range. You could get an early start and knock out Seward, Donaldson, and Emmons, camp at a leanto further down the trail, and then do Seymour the next day and hike out.

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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Nov 18, 2012
When I was a bum at Frey
Suggestions for solo ice/snow climbs?

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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Nov 19, 2012
Medic741 wrote:
Suggestions for solo ice/snow climbs?


Any of the slides. Gothics, Giant, the Wolfjaws, etc. Watch out for Avy conditions.

If you want steeper (WI2) ice, the Trap Dike is phenomenal.

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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Nov 19, 2012
Kevin Heckeler wrote:
You would NOT want to do the great range traverse in the winter unless you like punishing yourself for no reason.


I guess I assumed the OP is used to doing multi-day solo trips in the mountains in winter.

If that's not the case... The Daks are legit. If you wouldn't do something in the Rockies or Cascades, don't think you can get away with it here.

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 20, 2012
Rumney
Auto-X Fil wrote:
I guess I assumed the OP is used to doing multi-day solo trips in the mountains in winter.


I never assume this based on the rescue reports the DEC publishes. Those people needing rescue rarely have a clue about what they're getting into. I tend to be cautious when giving advice on the intrawebs because that's where a lot of these people are getting their (mis)information prior to heading out.

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By Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Nov 25, 2012
Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenstein Amphitheater
When you get into Keene Valley stop at the Mountaineer so you can ask them what's good. Every employee gives great advice on trips. I think I stop there every day I'm not sleeping in a tent either to ask questions or to buy something.

Medic.. check out the new slide on Cascade. Lots of climbing! The Mountaineer will show the way.

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By Chris72
From New York, NY
Nov 25, 2012
Hey guys thanks for all the quick advice - wanted to wait until I got my maps to reply. Right now, I think I'd like to do an Avalanche Lake/Mt Marcy loop w/optional Algonquin peak on the way back if I have the time (was planning on being out 3.5 days and 3 nights). I'm a beginner but I'm proficient with crampon/ice axe technique and self-arrest. Decent amount of winter camping/hiking experience (Mt. Washington, Catskills). I'm doing a Presi Traverse in Feb and want to use this to test out some new gear and spend 3 days in cold, wet, shitty conditions.

Does this sound like a decent plan for what I'm looking for and my experience level?

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By Medic741
From Pittsford, New York
Nov 25, 2012
When I was a bum at Frey
Sweet! I am stoked!!!

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By Nathan Stokes
Nov 26, 2012
Chris72 wrote:
Hey guys thanks for all the quick advice - wanted to wait until I got my maps to reply. Right now, I think I'd like to do an Avalanche Lake/Mt Marcy loop w/optional Algonquin peak on the way back if I have the time (was planning on being out 3.5 days and 3 nights). I'm a beginner but I'm proficient with crampon/ice axe technique and self-arrest. Decent amount of winter camping/hiking experience (Mt. Washington, Catskills). I'm doing a Presi Traverse in Feb and want to use this to test out some new gear and spend 3 days in cold, wet, shitty conditions. Does this sound like a decent plan for what I'm looking for and my experience level?


Sounds like a good plan. Depending on when you are out and your daily ambition there are lean-to's that can be utilized instead of tenting it. If you want mileage you can do Marcy from Lake Tear (go over Lake Arnold to 4 corners) and bag Skylight as its a short jaunt before heading up Marcy. The Van Ho trail from Marcy Summit back to Marcy Dam is a trudge once you get below tree-line.

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 27, 2012
Rumney
Chris72 wrote:
I'm a beginner but I'm proficient with crampon/ice axe technique and self-arrest. Decent amount of winter camping/hiking experience (Mt. Washington, Catskills).


Probably no need for an ice axe other than to punch a hole in the lake for water. Most of the time the open alpine terrain in the ADKs is icy, with snow drifting into the trees. Can't self arrest on ice.

Definitely take advantage of the lean-tos, and maybe figure out a loop instead of an out-and-back trip. It at least gets you some quality time on multiple trails.

The Presidential traverse is likely hut to hut, correct? No need to practice winter tenting.

Snow isn't a guarantee below 3500 feet so be prepared for anything.

Have fun! If you do all or part of this during the weekdays there's a good chance you won't see many, if any, people (other than perhaps a ranger patrol).

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 27, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on
"The Presidential traverse is likely hut to hut, correct? No need to practice winter tenting."

This is incorrect. Presi traverse in February is the real deal and one should be prepared for some extremely bad weather. You should have a full-on four season tent, 0 degree or -20 degree sleeping bag, and all the requisite clothing for extreme conditions.

Only some of the huts are winterized, as far as I know, and doing the Presi traverse involves real winter camping...probably about as real as it gets on the East coast.

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By Mike V.
Nov 27, 2012
Ben Brotelho wrote:
Only some of the huts are winterized, as far as I know, and doing the Presi traverse involves real winter camping...probably about as real as it gets on the East coast.


To add to this: Only Lonesome Lake, Zealand, and Carter Notch are open in Winter. Nothing in the presies is open in Winter.

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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 27, 2012
Rumney
Mike V. wrote:
To add to this: Only Lonesome Lake, Zealand, and Carter Notch are open in Winter. Nothing in the presies is open in Winter.


Ah, so then yes - practicing in the comparatively "tame" ADKs wouldn't be a bad idea. Just need to stay out of the alpine zones when tenting (technically the regulations state below 3500 feet - the spirit of the rule is it have hikers camp outside of the alpine terrain to minimize impact). There's also rules about tening in the Eastern High Peaks, typically only where designated with DEC tent discs (trail markers with tent symbols on them, usually yellow in color). Most lean-tos have tenting areas near them as a rule of thumb.

Fwiw, it can get really cold in the dead of winter in the high peaks. There's many days temps never get above 0F. Having a good sleeping bag would be a requirement (I rarely winter camp but have a zero degree, gortex bivy, and liner to add about 20 degrees extra warmth). If I was more serious I'd have a -20 for ADK treks.

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Nov 30, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on
Just to reiterate just how serious the weather is in the Whites, and how prepared you have to be: It's negative 4 degrees on Mt. Washington right now without wind chill, and negative 31 with wind chill! Badass!

mountwashington.org/weather/

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By Chris72
From New York, NY
Dec 1, 2012
Ha! I know man, it's gonna be gnarly.

One last question - I'll be taking the train up Friday to Westport and then taking a shuttle to Lake Placid. Was gonna stay at Tmax and Tops...can anyone recommend a good place for a beer and burger that might be within walking distance?

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Dec 1, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on
Hey! Cascade inn across the street has a nice bar, and is really the only option for walking from tmax and topos. Great food too...I recommend the chicken cascade.

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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Dec 1, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on
Tmax and topos is awesome too, good call.

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