We're ready to tackle the next and most exciting part of our adventure: the climb up and over Gothics Mountain. At 4736 feet above sea level, it is the Adirondack's tenth-highest peak - and has a mostly open summit. Its general shape is of a long a narrow-ish fin of Adirondack anorthosite, with steep bare faces on its northern and southern aspects. In the wintertime, the northeast ridgeline leading up to the summit accumulates a lot of snow, and turns into a wonderful, open ridgeline. Looking up, we can see the fresh thick snow of the ridgeline, and also the two dots of our companion hikers from back on Upper Wolfjaw. It was neat to see them up there, looking exactly like we would soon be looking in about thirty minutes.
Our two advance hikers had re-set the Range Trail very nicely up to the open terrain on Gothics, and it was easy and fun to follow the winding track upwards. We started to pass through a few nice open patches on the way up, which gave us nice views off to the east and south of the Dix Range and back to Armstrong.
The trail then topped out at a small subsummit, and - all at once - we are treated to a fabulous close-up, direct-line view of the narrow ridgeline leading up to Gothics' summit. It is only very slightly corniced in spots, and a clear path of snowshoe tracks winds its way up all the way to the summit. It looks amazing.
The wind was - as expected - even stronger up here than it had been on Armstrong. Brief forays to exposed areas revealed that it was strong enough at times to move you around. We therefore stopped in the lee of a small prominence and layer on some warmwear, a windproof shell, balaclava, and extra gloves.
Fortunately, although the wind was quite strong and to be respected, the temperature wasn't too bad. I estimated it to be just slightly below freezing. That's good, because on a truly cold winter day, there would have been quite a nasty wind chill.
Prepping for the elements
Closeup Northeast Ridgline
Gothics and the higher peaks
Properly suited-up, we began our climb up the open ridgeline. The snow was styrofoam-firm and just perfect for easily crunching uphill. We basked in the scenic glory of this stretch of hiking, stopping to take in the fantastic views across the scenery to the MacIntyre Range, to Marcy, to the upper Great Range and lower Great Range, and back down towards Johns Brook Valley. There were no clouds, the air quality was good, and everything was crystal-clear. We were in my opinion here to view the Adirondacks in its most perfect, peak-winter state. Well worth the effort, it was.
The climb up the open ridgeline was pretty straightforward, pretty easy. The wind would occasionally nudge us a foot to the left, but a steady stance was all it took to stay on course. Within about ten minutes we were nearing the long narrow summit crest of Gothics mountain.
Contemplating the number 29?
Vistas opened up to the west. The summit is completely open, so we had views now in all directions. The most impressive views, of course, were to the even-higher peaks of the Upper Great Range. All of the higher and generally best peaks were arrayed out before us: Basin, Skylight, Haystack, Marcy.
The strong winds once again encouraged us not to dally, and after congratulating Brian on his 3rd winter 46R peak of the day and his 29th W46R overall, we moved on. Our route today was a loop, and the next phase of that loop was to continue along Gothics' crest to its western sub-summit, then head steeply down to the Gothics-Saddleback col.