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Jan 2, 2000 (Sun)
Elevation: 4515 feet; Order of Height: 17
Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Peter Guidry, Lorraine Hughes, Annette Labossiere, Bob Gibson

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!)

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