Our late start and various delays caused us to stop on a ledge before the summit to have our lunch (it was by this time well past 1pm).
Continuing on, we negotiated a few final steep bits of ice, encountering the aforementioned lone hiker coming back down. Shortly after that, we topped out on Noonmark's open summit. The bare rock was devoid of ice, so we took off our crampons.
We savored the excellent panorama, especially so for Veetil, as this was his very first mountain summit. A chill breeze kept the summit feeling suitably alpine. Having already had our lunch break, and given the relatively late time, we didn't stop for long on top.
We briefly thought about our descent options - return via the Stimson trail, or descend via the trail down the moutain's southeast flank. Given the fairly steep and continuous nature of the ice on the way up, we elected for the southeast route, which we knew to be less steep and which we thought might have less ice on it, owing to its southeasterly aspect.
Eastern Summit View
We located the start of the southeastern descent, and immediately it became necessary to use crampons again, with a large amount of ice and snow present. It was definitely less steep, however, which put less of a burden on all of us to be comfortable with down-cramponing technique (which is arguably a bit harder and requires more confidence than uphill travel).
Veetil finds descending harder
With care and deliberation (Veetil's foot placement showed he was getting a bit tired), we successfully descended the trail. By about the 2500-foot level, there was enough bare ground for us to ditch the crampons. Shortly before 4pm, we arrived at the junction with the St Huberts - Dix trail. This was the trail we'd use to head back north, though the pass between Noonmark and Round, to complete our loop.
After a short rest, food, and rehydration break, we started along the trail north, back towards the start. Deep in the hollow between Noonmark and Round, there was still a lot of ice here, although the grade was nearly flat and most of us were able to manage without traction aid. We did have two pairs of Microspikes, which Veetil and Gillian elected to use.
Through Noonmark-Round Pass
Just over an hour of somewhat tedious hiking brought us back to the closure of our loop at the base of the Stimson Trail. From here a short and easy walk down the increasingly dry trail brought us to the AMR property and golf course.
A short walk down the smooth Ausable club road brought us to the highway, and, on the other side, our vehicles. We re-united with Alana, then drove for a few minutes north down into Keene Valley for a post-hike dinner at the Noonmark diner.
Normally Noonmark is a scenic but otherwise straightforward hike. Today's addition of ice and crampons spiced things up, which was quite enjoyable. Congrats to Veetil on a solidly-successful first hike experience. We hope to see you on the trails again soon!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Noonmark Loop - click map to view
Hike Data - Noonmark Mountain
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet