Distant Central High Peaks
With snowshoes now on, we continued up, following the straight stretch of road that links the lower switchback with the upper switchback. At the upper switchback, we would veer off the road and onto the hiking trail that climbs the crest of Whiteface's north ridge to its summit.
Esther from Upper Switchback
Brian at Upper Switchback
The upper switchback is another spot that affords excellent views. The summit buildings appeared much closer to us now; looking off the rock-and-mortar guardrail on the outer part of the switchback, we could see down the east flank of the mountain to the Whiteface Olymic ski facility. Plumes of white powder from snow-making machines obscured the air far below.
Colden looms above skiers
As planned, we departed the auto road just above the upper switchback. A steep step of trail led up onto the North Ridge. Tracks from a few people that had been up ahead of us led the way. Strangely, they had been wearing crampons in conditions that clearly favored snowshoes.
Andrew starts the North Ridge
Looking down on Switchback
The first short bit of the ridge trail leads through thick, short forest, but in a few minutes, we broke out into a glorious open ridgecrest climb. The morning's cold temperatures had moderated significantly, and there was little to no wind. This would be the most scenic section of today's hike.
Past an artificial canyon