After really enjoying his initial Adirondack hiking experience back in March on Noonmark Mountain
, work-colleague Veetil requested to go again, and to introduce his wife to the Adirondacks as well. I promised them that I'd honor that request. So, during his wife's summer stay in Ottawa (she is a student studying in the US), we decided to undertake a climb of a short but scenic peak.
I had a number of peaks in mind as we drove down on a beautiful temperate sunny morning. I asked them about distance and difficulty. "Longer and Smoother or Shorter and Steeper", I asked. They thought about it for a bit, and chose the latter. Short and steep... well, there exist a few Adirondack outings that fit that bill, but none more suitable, in my opinion, than Catamount Mountain. Many little climbs and scrambles and a very short overall distance make it a perfect choice.
With no need to maximize time, we started off from the trailhead at a leisurely 9:50 a.m.
After the pleasant and easy 20-minute walk along the flat approach, we began our climb of Catamount proper. The moderately steep trail soon had us pretty wet, save for Rakhee (Veetil's wife), so seemed to be impervious to sweat.
A tedious section of boulder-strewn trail soon gave way to more slabby, more enjoyable trail. Following that, we arrived at the first limited lookout over the surrounding terrain. Veetil and Rakhee were already impressed. But, as those of you who are familiar with Catamount know, the interesting stuff is yet to come...
A few minutes after the first lookout, we arrive at one of the Catamount Mtn Trail's signature features: the so-called Chimney - a narrow cleft in the bedrock that provides passage to higher terrain near the mountain's south sub-summit. We took our time going through here, taking pictures and getting Veetil and Rakhee familiar with the basics of scrambling (remember, this was Rakhee's first ever mountain hike).
Above the Chimney, more intermittent scrambling brought us to the top of the open south sub-summit - a worthy destination on its own. After admiring the nearly 360-degree view and taking a short break, we continued on, heading towards the actual summit, now visible as a slabby hump only about 500 metres (yards) away.
The trail continued across a section of ridged bedrock (where I met up with a group of Ottawa climbers including ACC member Bill Barrett), then started up the final slopes to the main summit. Intermittent sections of steep open slab characterizes this stretch, and we again took some time to familiarize Veetil and Rakhee with the proper mindset and foot techniques.
Shortly after noon, we arrived at Catamount's semi-open summit. After a celebratory victory photo, we retreated down the southwestern ridgeline a bit to have our lunch and to enjoy the beautiful day and view.
Our descent was straightforward, with a little more coaching to help Rakhee and Veetil feel more comfortable with the sensations of descending steep slab. We arrived without incident back at the south sub-summit, scrambled down the Chimney, and resumed hiking on more conventional trail. We were back at the car by 2:45pm.
Catamount seemed to be a hit with my freshman hikers, and they almost seemed keen to start another trek right away as we drove off. Looks like we will have to ramp up the difficulty a bit next time!