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Jan 25, 2003 (Sat)
Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Markus Wandel, Caroline Doucet, Shannon Rector, Deborah, Max, Bryan Mullen, Ewart Tempest, Pu Chen, Molly
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This was my first winter climb of Mount Colden. We had a big crew this time: ten in all! This had originally been planned to be a sequel to the 2002 Porter-Cascade hike with my friends from the Wilderness First Aid course that I'd planned. However, not everyone could make it, although Bryan Mullen did.

It was a cloudy day with flurries, and so prospects for views on the summit were iffy. The trail from ADK Loj to Marcy dam was a nice, well-packed snow highway. Encountered a few other parties, most of them on backcountry skiis. Marcy Dam was solidly frozen over, and I took an opportunity to get a picture of everyone crossing the frozen lake. The hike up to Avalanche pass was blissful: no rocks, boulders, or muck. Just nice smooth snowy trail. Avalanche lake was a spectacular wintry place - totally transformed into this wild, windblown plain with ice covered cliffs on either side. Since we were all well-bundled, the stiff wind and blowing snow did not bother us in the least. And what was even better was the ability to walk straight across the lake and avoid all of the nasty bouldery trail.

We stopped for a food break between Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden, then proceed out onto Lake Colden for a bit before heading to the southeastern shore where the start of the trail from Lake Colden to the summit of Colden was located. From there it was a steep, huffy climb, although the snow conditions were very good for snowshoes with good crampons. Although it was cloudy and lightly snowing, we were able to see a fair distance to the lower flanks of nearby peaks. Reaching the boulders and cliffs of the summit area, we emerged out into a fairly strong wind and blowing snow, making our goggles and balaclavas very useful. I was amazed that my digital camera was functioning so well in these harsh conditions - it was covered in frost and the temperature was at least -15 C, yet everything was still functioning perfectly. There was a tricky bit along the cliff bands near the summit where thin ice over rock was difficult to scale... but eventually everyone managed to find a way up. We took a few celebratory pictures near the summit boulder and on the actual summit itself, and then went a little farther down into the col between the summit and the northern sub-summit for our lunch snack. Then from there it was down on the trail to Lake Colden and on to Marcy Dam (grateful all the way for the fantastic trail conditions in the winter!). Night had now fallen, and so headlamps guided us back to ADK Loj to complete the hike. Well worth doing in winter!

Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References:
 Image Gallery: January 25 2003 hike (Mount Colden)


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