There are typically several gatherings of Adirondack 46er climbers each year -- one or more general 46er gatherings, and a more exclusive winter 46er gathering. The winter gathering, importantly, is held the first weekend AFTER the end of the official winter climbing season. This is because, once you get to know winter 46ers, you'll find out that it is near impossible to get them into a hotel conference room during a weekend that falls within the confines of the winter season. Here's a hint.... they're not at home watching football!
This year, for 2007, the winter gathering was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Lake Placid. I've always wanted to attend a 46er gathering, but for various reasons I've always put it off. This year, with myself and Jenn nearing our own 46er and winter 46er milestones, and after meeting some fantastic winter climbers just weeks before, we decided to attend. Mark and Peggy, the organizers of the event, were fortunately able to get Jenn and I last minute tickets.
The event was an informal affair, with lots of milling about, chatting and meeting during the first hour. We met some cherised new friends, of course, including Mark and Linda (whom we'd met on our Grace/Carson/Macomb traverse hike
just a few weeks before), and we also met a lot of people who I've only heard about by name or by posts on the various internet groups. It was great to put personality and faces to the names I'd heard and read about.
The sales of the winter 46er merchandise is brisk this year, with about twenty new finishers of the winter 46 this year!
After an hour or so of drinks and chatting, we sit down for a very good buffet dinner. There is a good variety of high-quality food, including vegetarian lasagna, chicken, roast beef, and rice-and-seafood dish, salad, and vegetables. And some very good dessert as well, including some strange-looking (but good-tasting) cotton-candy ice cream.
After dinner, Peggy, Mark move the agenda forward, discussing a bit of club business, and then introducing Tony, the 46er historian. He then introduces each of the new winter 46ers, and each stands up and gives a little talk about their experiences, and what made the achievement special for them. There were quite a lot of very nice speeches. I think the overriding message from the speeches was this: climbing in the winter in the Adirondacks is a group experience. The beta on trail conditions; the trail-breaking of those who went just before you; the trail-breaking that you end up doing for others; and the comeraderie and looking-over-your-shoulder-for-others mentality -- all of this was an important part of the winter 46er experience for many of them.