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9 Climbing log entries Found.


Oct. 15, 2022 (Sat.)
Elevations: 3107 feet, 2815 feet; Order of Height: 150, 225
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Alana Wilcox, Chris Hatko, Gillian Hatko, Evie Hatko, Katie Hatko, Deepak Kumar, Brittan Fell, Brian Connell
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A mid-October hike to catch the last of the fall colors. We chose the NunDaGaO loop because it is low, close to leaves, and sports many lookouts. And to further increase the likelihood of close color viewing, we tacked on the trail leading down over the Crows.

Big group today - eleven in total. We did the loop counter-clockwise so the less interesting stuff came first, and the crags and lookouts of Weston Mountain and the Soda Range came later. On the higher parts of the loop, the colors were mostly yellows, with many trees completely denuded of leaves. Views still excellent, though - this really is quite a beautiful hike and it had been too long since I'd done it.

The finale down the Crows (instead of doing the standard loop) was well worth it. The lower elevation meant many of the bright orange and reds were still present. The final lowest lookout offered the most brilliant and spectacular view of colors. Followed the new red NYSDEC markers religiously and came out at a very minimally-marked trailhead on Hurricane road, about 500 yards below the junction with Otoole Road.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2022 Nun-Da-Ga-O Loop and Crows Hike


Oct. 8, 2016 (Sat.)
Elevations: 2374 feet, 2815 feet, 2440 feet; Order of Height: 500, 225, 400
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Sophie Huggins
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A race against the rain-clock to sample the fiery fall colors of the Adirondacks.

Today we decided to visit three different small peaks, all ones we had never done, in order to sample the near-peak fall colors of 2016 in the Adirondacks. We chose Silver Lake Mountain in the north country, The Crows, above the town of Keene, and Baxter Mountain, near the town of Keene Valley. All three were in the 1-3 mile total distance range and had reputations for excellent views.

An approaching system with rain had us start very early first on Silver Lake Mountain, followed by an exploratory traverse over the Crows, and finishing off with a quick there-and-back up Baxter Mountain. The fall colors were indeed superb, nearly at peak intensity, and each of the three peaks offered some excellent views, although none had a truly 360-degree bare summit. An interesting trio of hikes, to be sure.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: October 2016 - Silver Lake / Crows / Baxter Mountains


Sep. 1, 2012 (Sat.)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Julie Moran, Ann Hitzrot
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An unusual twice-in-one-year visit to the summit of Esther and Whiteface mountains, this time on a busy summer weekend.

I was tagging along on one of Julie Moran's trips today. She had originally planned this as a dog group outing, but all of those participants had cancelled, and so it was just myself, Julie, Mike (Julie's lab) and a new hiker from Maine - Ann.

We set up vehicles at the Marble Mountain and Connery Pond Trailheads, and starting hiking from the northern end (the Marble Mountain end) southwards. It was a warm and beautiful late summer day, more than enough to get us sweaty on the ascent up to Marble Mountain.

I hadn't been up Esther in the summer in quite a few years, and was surprised to see all of the pretty extensive trailwork (including a boardwalk) along the herd path. I think we can stop calling it a herd path at this point.

The summit of Whiteface was crowded - expected for a long-weekend summer day - and we were glad to get to the relative solitude of the trail heading south off of Whiteface's summit. We then made a fairly quick descent and hike out, reaching the Connery Pond trailhead almost exactly eight hours after starting out.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: September 2012 Whiteface-Esther Traverse


Jan. 22, 2012 (Sun.)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Brian Connell, Harold Piel
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You could call this a 'Helping Harold' hike: helping him, that is, to achieve his newest goal of becoming a winter 46R.

Originally Brian and Harold were going to do Whiteface and Esther as a there-and-back via the Wilmington Trail. I convinced them instead to go for a shorter and [allegedly] easier loop that started and ended at the toll road gate and utilized a bushwhack route between the auto road and the summit of Esther.

A crisp winter morning saw us briskly walking up the auto road. Things went well, and we arrived at the summit in just under three hours. Beautiful views, good conditions, no wind. Onwards we went on a broken out Wilmington Trail over to the Esther herdpath. The herdpath was in perfect shape - pretty much as good as any hiking trail, really. We arrived at the summit of Esther not long after noon. Motoring we were!

After a good lunch, we set about on the biggest unknown (and potentially the most onerous) part of our day - a bushwhack descent down off of Esther to the auto road. I had done this before, back in 2004 with Markus and Caroline, and remembered as being a bit brushy but not too bad. Well... I remembered wrong. It was bad - thick, difficult, slow bushwhacking. Although the total distance from summit to road was just around 2km, it took us nearly four hours to do it! Something must have been different between 2004 and now, because in 2004 it took us that much time to ascend and descend the very same route. Perhaps it was the depth of the snowpack! Anyway, we made it, in just around 9 hours total. Not a bad overall time, I guess.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 2012 Whiteface-Esther Loop Hike


Dec. 22, 2007 (Sat.)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
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The kickoff to the winter 07-08 hiking season: a ski-snowshoe-ski up Whiteface and Esther Mountains.

Jenn needed these two for her winter 46er list, and the snow conditions were good for cross-country skiing, so we decided to make these two our first winters of the year. Despite the forecast, we arrived to a pretty bright and sunny day. Temperatures were moderate, and there was little wind.

We skiied up a snowmobile-packed toll road to the 2nd hairpin, where we ditched the skiis and snowshoed up the short remaining bit of the north ridge of Whiteface. Excellent views here! At the summit, we noted a neat undercast that was starting to develop over the Central High Peaks to the south of us, and also the busy Whiteface Olympic ski hill directly below us. People trying to get a good day of skiing in before the weather turned, perhaps?

We trudged back down to the 2nd hairpin and then broke trail all the way to Esther's summit. My previous tracklog proved useful for staying on the herdpath portion to Esther. We arrived relatively late, at 3pm. The return trip over now-broken-out trail was much faster, but still not fast enough to avoid dusk falling just as we arrived back at our skiis at the second hairpin.

The way down should have been fun and quick, but the darkness (plus our skinny old skiis and lack of skiing skill) made the descent back down the road slow and awkward. Still, a fine day, all-in-all!

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: December 2007 Winter kickoff hike - Whiteface and Esther


Jan. 21, 2007 (Sun.)
Elevations: 4607 feet, 4442 feet, 3820 feet; Order of Height: 14, 18, 46
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Ewart Tempest, Brian Connell
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This is an account of an epic day climbing the Santanonis in the dead of winter... cold, long, and tedious!

As part of our winter 46er work, the Santanonis had to be completed. We mulled about doing this as a two-day backpack, and mulled, and mulled... and then the weather then decided. It had finally turned decidedly like late-January should be: frigid! The camping spirit drained out of us, and we decided to make a go of it in a very, very long day.

We arrived at the trailhead slightly behind schedule. It was a cold winter night (it was 3:30am, after all!), and the temperature was around -20C (-4F). Perfectly clear, with thousands of stars above. About 6 inches of fresh snow had fallen the day before, and the trailhead was deserted. With all the fresh snow still on tree branches, we would likely get dumped on today! We tried as much as possible to get dressed and ready IN the car, rather than outside in the cold!

Bare-booted to the start of the trail to Duck Hole; switched to snowshoes there to preserve trail quality. Snowpack not that deep, maybe 6 inches to a foot at most. Upon reaching Bradley Pond (and the start of the Herdpath), I started following my GPS tracklog from my 2003 summer climb of the Santanonis. This proved to be very useful with the mostly untracked herdpath route! Snow conditions were good, except for some tricky slide-sloping snow-over-ice-crust stuff partway up to Times Square.

Arrived Times Square a bit behind my planned schedule. We decided to tackle the 'worst one' first (i.e. Couchsachraga). Did that, then went on to Santanoni, and finally Panther. Temps were frigid but day was mostly clear; excellent views. Tracklog again proving very useful in negotiating snowed-in herdpaths. We were pretty late in getting the peaks done and it was solid nightfall by the time we returned to Bradley Pond. A long, boring trudge out and we were finished. Tough!

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: January 2007 Santanoni Range Climb


Aug. 6, 2005 (Sat.)
Elevations: 4867 feet, 4240 feet; Order of Height: 5, 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes
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This outing was a Whiteface/Esther combo hike that Jenn and I did on August 6, 2005. Jenn wanted to do these two peaks as part of her 46er quest; I'd never hiked from the lower Wilmington trailhead, nor had I ever done both Whiteface and Esther in a day. And, the weather was beautiful and warm, a situation I'd also not encountered on a previous ascent of Whiteface..

We stayed the night before at the Wilmington Notch Campground, a nice state-run facility very close to the Whiteface ski hill. There is a nice waterfall down below the campground that is worth visiting.

We started off our hike not long after 7am, and encountered very few people on our ascent that day. The lower trail, being the longer option, has little traffic and therefore good trail conditions. Higher up, the usual Adirondacks rockiness rears its head once in a while, along with some tiring stretches of muddy trail in the long flat sections at around 4,000 feet.
An officially unmarked but fairly obvious junction marked the way off to Esther. and the summit of Esther was reached not long afterwards. This was the first time at Esther's summit in the summer for me, and so it was the first time that I actually got to see the summit marker. Very nice.
After Esther, it was back to the unofficial junction, then up over first muddy trails, then the beautiful north summit ridge of Whiteface. The summit views were beautiful, but as a result, also crowded with tourists who have driven up on the auto road. We take a few snaps, then head down the "protected" west ridge route to the castle, where we pop in for a quick snack and new batteries (I only brought one set of half-charged batteries for my GPS, and they were now out). From there, we walked down the auto road to where it intersects the ascent trail, and from there back down to the trailhead.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2005 Whiteface and Esther Hike


Feb. 8, 2004 (Sun.)
Elevation: 4240 feet; Order of Height: 28
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet
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The time had come to cross off Esther. We wanted to do a short winter hike (had to get back in time to take Caro out for her birthday). Sunday, Feb 8 presented us with a brief window of clear but cool sunny winter weather (pretty windy, too). The plan was to ascend Esther via the 'north basin' direct route (for lack of a better term). This route starts off from the Whiteface Memorial highway toll road about 800 metres above the toll booth. The road crosses the main drainage down the north side of Esther at this point. The route goes up this drainage on the left side of the stream.

We had some relatively good tracks to follow, and that helped immensely. The tracks stayed on the left side of the drainage (when viewed looking up), and, as we got higher, the tracks veered a bit more to the east, through some thick and troublesome foliage, to the east ridge of Esther, about 700 metres from its summit. At this point there is an excellent viewpoint down the other side of the ridge and into vermont, as well as a unique perspective on Whiteface's summit. The bushwack along the east ridge to the summit is mostly pretty nice, with a few craggy bits, some nice views, and generally good hiking (not much tangled underbrush). Near the very summit we lost our benefactor's snowshoe tracks and did a little bit of thrashy bushwacking through some thick stuff. That was soon over, however, and we summitted just before 11am. Many good views in most directions, including to Whiteface itself. We looked around extensively for a summit sign on a tree but could find none (discovered later that Esther has a summit _placque_ on a rock, so that's why we didn't see it). Many summit photos were taken, and soon we were heading back down the way we came up, which went clickety-click, and in no time we were back at the toll road, and then to the car, at around 12:30. Short n' sweet! This marks my 41st 46er peak and my 11th winter 46er peak.

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: February 2004 Esther Mountain Climb


Aug. 24, 2003 (Sun.)
Elevations: 4607 feet, 4442 feet, 3820 feet; Order of Height: 14, 18, 46
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Caroline Doucet, Ewart Tempest, Markus Wandel, Daryl Boyd
Click to Enlarge

Whereas many people do these peaks as a backpack, we decided to try to do them in a single long day. In order to do this, we camped out the night before near the trailhead to ensure an early start. We were up and off on the trail just a tick before 5:00am. With headlamps lighting the way, we hiked along the trail, which is actually a road, for the first few kilometres. The trail then turns off to the north and, after a few well-constructed bridges, starts a steady but moderate climb next to Santanoni Brook. At this point morning twilight had arrived and we ditched the headlamps.

Just before 7am we reached the start of the herdpath up to the Santanonis. The herdpath is marked by a cairn of stones at the edge of a small marshy/meadowy area. The herdpath heads more or less straight west and soon we can see Bradley pond through the trees to the south. We find a lookout on the shore of the lake and stop for our morning break. The day is amazingly clear and cool for summertime. There is no haze whatsoever, and it is actually quite nippy. Simply Excellent hiking weather!

Next we tackle the ascent up to the four corners area. The herd path gets a bit braided as it climbs up steep, earthy ledges, but then rejoins into a single path. We then climbed a nice section of trail along the base of some cliffs to a spot that looked like a popular camping area. From there the herdpath angles a bit to south and intercepts the brook coming down from the ridge above. The trail is sometimes along the side, sometimes in the brook, and at this point it is pretty typical rocky and rough Adirondack trail.

Just before nine we arrive at a herdpath junction (which I initially think is the four corners, but I am wrong). We take the trail to the right and are very soon climbing a few scrambly bits to the summit of Panther Peak. There is an excellent flat open area a few feet from the summit (which has a sign on a tree) that provides excellent views to the west and south. Couchsachraga and Santanoni are both quite visible, as is the Seward Range and Seymour to the northwest. Again, I cannot stress how clear, cool, and haze-free the day is for August. A good food break and rest on the top of Panther and we are off, back along the trail. At the junction we head west again, and the path braids. We aren't sure which goes to Couchsachraga, so we split up and follow both. Turns out that the route Ewart and Caroline take is the right one, since ours soon peters out into a yucky bushwack. After a few shouts back and forth Markus and I make it across to the correct herdpath, and we are off to Couchsachraga, which is reached by following a long downhill ridge to the west. The trail is ok in spots, and very steep and rough in other spots.

The summit of Couchsachraga is all treed, although if you stand on tip-toes you can see around a little bit. There is a summit sign attached to a tree here as well. Returning back along the ridge I finally get to see the infamous 'four corners' (I had bypassed it on my bushwack going the other way). It is a neat little area clear of trees and with a huge boulder on one side. Herd paths lead out in three directions to the three peaks. We have our lunch here, and then set out for our final objective, Santanoni. The herdpath is pretty easy from four corners to Santanoni and it only takes us about 40 minutes and we are near the summit of Santanoni. There are a few excellent lookouts to the east, affording very good views of the central High Peaks region, and from a unique, not-often-seen perspective. Also visible are the mining operations of the Upper Works.

We tag the summit, take some summit cookie shots, and then we are off back down the trail, hoping to get back to the road before it gets too dark. We make good time, but as we start the descent I notice that one of my knees is starting to hurt - and I've never had that before. It was a strange type of pain, because jarring it or putting my body weight on it did not hurt - just the act of swinging it. This got increasingly worse as I descended, although I still managed to keep up - barely. It is about 6:30 pm by the time we get back to the road, and so still ight. Dusk falls just as we get back to the parking lot. 14 hours and 35 minutes, and 28 kilometres. A hard but very enjoyable hike, and three 46er peaks bagged!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: August 2003 Santanonis Climb


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