Tuesday, October  22, 2019
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The next morning, after having spent a semi-sleepness night with the battling varmints under our lean-to, we got up shortly after 5am to prep for Ewart's arrival at the lean-to. He was only interested in the climb of Cliff, and so was hiking in early to team up with us just for today.

Ewart over-estimated his travel time, and arrived a full hour earlier, at 5:30am, and so we gave him our down jackets to warm him up as he waited around for us to have some breakfast and get our gear in order.

Just before we were ready to leave, we woke up the NYC firefighters, who didn't want to sleep in too late before starting their climb of Marshall. We did this, thanked them again for their hospitality, and then started off towards Cliff.
Cliff from below
We chose to ascend Cliff via the 'Flowed Lands' side, rather than the official herdpath route that leads up from the other side, near the uphill Lean-to. We did it this way because it was shorter (from where we were) and in my opinion, it was more open way up. I'd done this route once before in 2004 (link) with Markus and Caroline, and we had followed someone else's excellent track up. Given the recent snows, I wasn't expecting a track this time, but I did have my GPS tracklog from the 2004 ascent and would use that to recreate the route.

The walk across the flowed lands gave us a view of the forested ridge of Cliff Mountain above us. The start of the route is basically along the southeast edge of the Flowed Lands under Cliff Mountain (see my track map for details). There was, as we had expected, no track, so it was going to be a full trailbreak all the way to the summit. It was now about 7am, so we had lots of time to cover the one mile between the edge of the Flowed Lands to the summit.

It was good that we'd started early. It was slow going, breaking trail and navigating, all the while attempting to shake the loose snow off of trees before bushwacking through them. There spruce-trap rate was quite high, too, further slowing us. Ewart fell far behind as we ascended - his greater weight meant that he was breaking through and falling into spruce traps that Jenn and I had managed to successfully traverse over. When we stopped, we could hear a long stream of curses from far below us. There were several times where the difficulty of the conditions brought me close to calling for an abort of the climb. We were close, though, only a few hundred yards away now.
Morning Macintyre Twilight
Ewart Charts the way
Well-fought!
Perserverance won out. At 10:30, 3.5 hours after starting up from the edge of the Flowed Lands, we reached the summit sign on Cliff. Boy, was I glad that was over! We enjoyed the relatively good views from the summit of Cliff, taking in the shining white summits of the newly-snowed-upon peaks all around us. Cliff is well-positioned in the heart of the High Peaks, and lots of the bigger mountains are close by and visible from here. Dark clouds and shifting sunlight provided some great photo opportunities.
Cliff's summit view
Mount Colden
Contemplation
Brilliant White Macintyres
We were in a bit of a rush, hoping to get back home for an engagement in the evening, so we stayed at the top for only five minutes and then started back down at a good clip, enjoying much better progress going downhill on a defined track. On the way back down, we met Ewart about 300 feet below the summit, tiringly wading his way through a 10-foot continuous section of spruce trap. His words for the mountain were unkind.

We stopped and chatted briefly - he asked us our weights and observed that we seemed to float over the snow. Not quite, since I stepped into a few spruce traps myself. Jenn and I needed to be back home for an engagement in the evening, so we agreed to part ways. We encouraged Ewart onwards - the path was plain and he was close, and after several failed winter attempts on Cliff, he'd get it this time.
Back to the Flowed Lands
The Macintyres, once again
Back at Flowed Lands
We were back at the Calamity Ponds lean-to before noon, and hastily packed up. The FDNY firefighters had left a bunch of extra gear for us to take back to the Upper Works trailhead (they were carrying an enormous amount of gear, including ice axes and crampons, that weren't necessary given the current conditions, and we'd offered to take back anything they wanted). So, with extra-heavy packs, we hoofed it back down to the Upper Works trailhead (in 1 hour and 38 minutes, no less). Jenn left a note on their truck and carefully placed their gear underneath. If you're reading this report guys.... hello from us!
Fork to Cliff
Sky-Tree-Colden
Another look at Colden
And so ends our report on two somewhat tiring and tough days of wet, snowy trailbreaking. Anyone wanting to do Marshall or Cliff (via Flowed Lands) is now invited to try out our well-set tracks. Might as well make use of 'em!
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Marshall and Cliff - Click map to expand
Elevation over Distance
Elevation over Time, day 1
Elevation over Time, day 2

Upper Works to Calamity LT
Start Time:
9:19AM
Start Elevation:
1828ft (557m) *
End Time:
11:24AM
Max Elevation:
2820ft (860m) *
Duration:
2h5m
Min Elevation:
1819ft (554m) *
Distance:
7.01 km (4.36 mi)
End Elevation:
2820ft (860m) *
Average Speed:
3.4 km/hr (2.1 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet

Marshall RT from Calamity LT
(Track color: )
Start Time:
11:58AM
Start Elevation:
2814ft (858m) *
End Time:
5:53PM
Max Elevation:
4413ft (1345m) *
Duration:
5h54m
Min Elevation:
2781ft (848m) *
Distance:
7.16 km (4.45 mi)
End Elevation:
2795ft (852m) *
Average Speed:
1.2 km/hr (0.8 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet

Cliff RT from Calamity LT
(Track color: )
Start Time:
6:39AM
Start Elevation:
2781ft (848m) *
End Time:
11:44AM
Max Elevation:
3997ft (1218m) *
Duration:
5h5m
Min Elevation:
2748ft (837m) *
Distance:
4.75 km (2.95 mi)
End Elevation:
2766ft (843m) *
Average Speed:
0.9 km/hr (0.6 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet

Calamity LT to Upper Works
Start Time:
12:02PM
Start Elevation:
2782ft (848m) *
End Time:
1:40PM
Max Elevation:
2782ft (848m) *
Duration:
1h38m
Min Elevation:
1803ft (550m) *
Distance:
6.95 km (4.32 mi)
End Elevation:
1808ft (551m) *
Average Speed:
4.3 km/hr (2.6 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet

All Tracks Combined
Start Time:
9:19AM
Start Elevation:
1828ft (557m) *
End Time:
1:40PM
Max Elevation:
4413ft (1345m) *
Duration:
28h21m
Min Elevation:
1803ft (550m) *
Distance:
25.9 km (16.09 mi)
End Elevation:
1808ft (551m) *
Average Speed:
0.9 km/hr (0.6 mph)
* : +/- 75 feet
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