This report is an account of a most excellent winter off-trail ascent route up to Basin and Saddleback : the Chicken Coop Brook approach. We would never have thought to do this route had it not been for the generous invitation of our newest hiking companions: Bill and Linda.
I wanted Basin for one of my winter 46er peaks, and Jenn wanted Basin and Saddleback for both her regular and winter 46ers.
We met at the Garden trailhead at 6am sharp on Tuesday morning. The weather forecast was unsettled, trending towards the cloudy and rainy. It was very warm, with temps above freezing at the Garden.
Mark, Linda, and Alex (another hiker Mark and Linda had invited along) set a breakneck pace, and we were up the start of the route, at the Bushnell Falls Lean-to, in no time. The route itself had been well-broken out a few days previously, and the ascent was perfect. Mostly in the bed of the brook, with a good track. At the top, the route emerges onto a steep slide coming down from Saddleback. A quick bit of bushwacking at the top of that brings us to the Range Trail.
The weather continued to hold (and in fact improve), and we had a great time over a good track over to Basin. Then it was back to the col and up the cliffs on Saddleback. I brought a little climbing gear to give a safety belay in a few places. From Saddleback, we had good glissading conditions down the Orebed Brook Trail.
We chose the southside route on the way out as a change of pace and a slightly shorter return route. Unfortunately very warm temps made the snow super soft and I was postholing even with snowshoes. Even so, we got back at a reasonably early 4pm. Fantastic route with lots of variety.
See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: March 2007 Basin and Saddleback via Chicken Coop Brook
Back in November of 2001, while Markus and Lorraine and I were watching the Leonid Meteor Storm on top of Noonmark mountain in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, we learned, through some other star gazers, of a famous and challenging hike known as the "solstice hike". This is a hike where one traverses the entire Great Range in a single day. Yes, you heard right - in one single day, usually around the summer solstice, when days are longest. Eight of the highest peaks in NY state, around 35 kilometres total length, and all in one day. We were impressed at such a hard hike had a name and a following. However, at the time, it just seemed like a crazy outing for folks with more stamina than brains. As a few more years slipped by, and, as we got more into ADK 46er hiking, the thought of this legendary outing took on a more tangible and attainable quality - but, for one reason or another, we were never able to pull together the right conditions to tackle it - until this year (2004). We managed to cobble together five enthusiastic challengers of this legendary hike: myself, Pu, Caroline, Markus, and Luc. Now, I won't go into a large amount of detail in this trip log - a very complete writeup is available via the image gallery link below. But, in summary, suffice it to say we did it, and we did it in good style, not injuring anyone, keeping well hydrated and fed, and experiencing some of the best summits of the Adirondacks on a cool and beautiful June day.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: June 2004 Solstice / Great Range Hike
After an earlier aborted attempt to do both Basin and Saddleback (did manage to do Saddleback in that attempt, though), this was the encore. Also, this was part of my and Brian's 2000 Mt. Rainier training regimen. And, Basin has always looked pretty interesting from afar. We decided to rent one of the rentable cabins near Johns Brook Lodge: Grace Camp. Very nice facilities. Luke and Sophie also came along but did not end up doing the peaks with us. We hiked in on the Phelps trail from the Garden to the Cabin the night before, and in the morning continued up the trail to the 'Shorey short cut' cutoff trail. We took that and shortly intersected the range trail. The weather was mostly overcast, with a cloud deck around 4000 to 4500 feet... but as we neared the summit there were many breaks in the clouds, which was definitely promising. Didn't want yet another socked-in summit experience! I recall climbing at least one fairly long ladder on the way up the backside of Basin. The summit of Basin is quite neat: a small, pointy and open knob. Much more summit-y feeling than many! And, there were more than enough large breaks in the clouds to get good views of Marcy and some of the other peaks. After a short break we continued east along the range trail. Not far below the summit of Basin is some really neat trail that traverses along some ledges with steep dropoffs. On the ascent up Saddleback, we encountered some really steep sections of what was fairly difficult rock scrambling. Fun, though! At the very top of one of these steep sections is the summit, which is mostly treed but has a good view west. Unfortunately the clouds had rolled back in completely and we had no view whatsoever... but Basin's summit more than made up for it. We returned via the Orebed trail and then on the Phelps trail back to the Garden.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: May 2000 Basin and Saddleback Climbs
This was one of my early attempts at winter climbing in the Adirondacks. We drove down to Lake Placid the night before and stayed at the classy 'St. Moritz' hotel (well, maybe not so classy). Then, after a bagel at a downtown shop, we headed off to the Garden trailhead. Now, you would think that early January would guarantee some nice cold temperatures. Not so. It was an abnormally warm day for January - it was well above freezing and, to top it off, it was cloudy. Now that I look back at it I wonder why we continued. Anyway, the hike in to Johns Brook Lodge was over a well-packed but now slightly soggy snow trail. From there we headed, now in drizzle and fog, up the Orebed trail. The going was ok at first but then slower higher up with all of the wet soggy snow. About three-quarters of the way up the Orebed Trail, Annette was finding it a bit tough, and so after a bit of consultation she and Bob decided to head back. Lorraine, Peter and I decided to slog on, even though we were in the clouds. The original plan was a loop over Saddleback and Basin, but now that was in question given our slowness and the weather. From the col between Giant and Saddleback it was apparent that no one had been up in a while - the trail was not broken. There were a couple of rock steps on the way up Saddleback that were totally encased in ice. For fun I chopped some steps in the ice with my ax and we ascended that way. Soon we were on the summit of Saddleback, at the western ledge where the trail descends almost vertically over the rock; all we saw was white only a few feet in front of our faces, and it was still raining. blech. Well, we weren't about to risk our necks on the treacherous bit of trail up ahead just for another view of white, so we decided to call it a day and head back down. Not an especially good hike, this one! (Also, I have no pictures of this hike, and they wouldn't be any good, anyway!)