After our tough slog on Rocky Ridge two weeks ago, a gentler outing: Whiteface via Marble Mtn.
Another nice spring day as we started out along the Marble Mountain trail. Toiled up the rather rocky trailbed along the old ski lift line to Marble Mountain itself, then west along the ridgline. Hit the start of snow at roughly 3100 feet and to full snow-pack by 3400. Fortunately, snow conditions were way better than two weeks before, and we were easily able to bareboot along the trail.
Once up on the Esther-Whiteface massif, we made good time - the trail conditions and flat terrain allowed us to quickly reach the slopes of Whiteface's summit cone. We quickly climbed up to the auto road (still closed), where we had a very pleasant time lounging about on the warm asphalt.
The final bit up the open northern ridgeline was the scenic highlight. Snow still deep between bare bits of rock, but still able to support travel without snowshoes. The top was mostly deserted, save for a couple and their dogs, who had walked up the auto road. Decided to descend via the 'tourist' trail to the top of the auto road, then back along the road to the meeting with our ascent route. A quick descent down the trail (we elected to skip Esther) brought us back to the car at a decent 3:30pm.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: May 2015 Whiteface Climb
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
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
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
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
This was a grand winter adventure! We decided that we wanted to try out our backcountry winter camping skills in the dead of winter, so we planned an outing - and the itinerary was to be Whiteface and Esther (Esther being one of my yet-to-be-climbed peaks at this time). The objective of the winter camping portion of this outing was to construct and sleep in a snow shelter, and so, to that end, we did not pack tents. And to add to the excitement, the forecast for the weekend predicted what turned out to be the coldest temperatures of the whole winter! (Markus, Pu, Brian, and Adelia did not want to try out the winter camping, so they agreed to instead hike in the next morning and meet us). We hiked in from the trailhead off of route 73 just before sunset. We reached Connery Pond around dusk, where there were some nice views of Whiteface mountain. From that point onwards it was headlamps time, although there was a rising full moon in the east that promised some light later on. We snowshoed along the gently rising and then falling trail to Whiteface landing, where we made a sharp right to head up towards the Whiteface lean-to. We planned to make our snow shelter there. The moon was up now, and cast a ghostly bright glow over everything. I took a 30-second exposure with my camera that captured the feeling quite well. Nearing the lean-to, we had Ewart catch up to us (he had not been able to drive down with us, and had started separately). The lean-to area was deserted and untouched since the last snowfall. Ewart agreed to use the Lean-to as a cooking area, and started whipping us up a tasty hot meal. In the meantime, Caroline, myself, and Deborah started constructing our snow shelter. The type we built is known as a Quinzee, and is made by piling up a huge mound of snow, letting it settle slightly, and then hollowing out the interior. It took us about 45 minutes to do this, and, in the end, we had hollowed out a 4-person sleeping area. After our meal and a bit of cleanup, we retired inside. The temperatures for the evening fell to below -30C (and -30F). Inside the shelter it was considerably warmer, although, because of a slight error in construction, not as warm as it could have been (lack of a lowered entrance tunnel). Still, it was pretty nice. The next morning we were up fairly late, by our standards, since we had to wait for the rest of our gang to hike in to our location. It was perfectly clear but very cold, and Caroline melted a hole in one of Ewart's water bottles trying to unfreeze it. Markus and gang arrived sometime after 10:30 am, and by the time we were rolling it was after 11. Deborah was having knee problems and so decided to skip the climb and head back. The rest of us started up the south side of Whiteface. The trail was tricky in spots, with very soft snow even for our snowshoes. Adelia was finding it tough going, and, as a result, we were not making rapid progress. It wasn't until after 4pm that we summitted. Above treeline the combination of -25C temperatures and a brisk wind meant one had to be very careful to cover everything up. Ewart actually managed to get a bit of frostbite on his fingertips.
. The summit was beautiful in the clear afternoon sunlight, with rime ice and crusty snow everywhere. We realized that the late time meant that there was no chance for Esther, so we decided to simply head down the Auto Road (which was closed for the winter) to the car (which was parked at the toll entrance on the road). On the way down, Pu was possessed for a moment and wrestled with Caroline (he says it was just fun...) to the point where one of her snowshoe bindings snapped! Caroline was then relegated to bare booting it down through some fairly soft snow, which was pretty tiring for her. The road seemed to go on forever, but finally, at 6:40pm, we arrived at the toll entrance. Caroline and Ewart went on ahead to fetch the other car, while the rest of us did laps around the parking lot to keep warm (the temperature had fallen to below -30C again). They came back before we succumbed to hypothermia (kidding!) and that marked the end a successful and interesting winter ascent!
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Trip Report and Pictures: Winter Whiteface Climb
Don't remember a large amount of detail about this climb. Here's what I do remember, however: Weather, ehh... not so great. Cloudy. Started the hike from the trailhead that leads up to an abandoned ski run, complete with some old remnants of a ski lift. Upon gaining a ridge, we rejoined with the main trail leading up from Wilmington. A few good lookouts here and their. After a fairly long slog with occasional 'fudge' and 'double-fudge' sections (my words for mucky), we came across a mysterious looking wall of stone... and, well, after ascending around it, we find that it is the buttressing for a hairpin of the auto road leading to the top. Rather than take the road to the summit, we elect to take the trail leading up the ridge to the summit. Excellent choice, because the trail runs along the edge of the steep cliffs and ravine that drops away to the east. Whiteface is quite unique and nice relative to the other ADK high peaks in that it has these ridges with sharp dropoffs. Fairly windy and a little rainy and in the clouds, of course, so no summit views. We did indulge in some french fries in the restaurant below the summit, however. We returned by way of the road to the aforementioned hairpin and then back down the trail to the car.