February, 2017

Dreaming Of Skiing Mount Marcy Again

Last week we enjoyed the best backcountry-ski conditions we’ve had in a while. I am using the editorial we; I didn’t enjoy them because I was sick all week. By Saturday, I was feeling good enough to venture out to Dewey Mountain for a few hours, where my girlfriend Carol and I explored the ungroomed trails near the summit. Unfortunately, the temperature that day soared well above freezing, and so the fluffy powder that fell last week had consolidated into mashed potatoes. Still, I was glad to be skiing at all. The next day we skied on a snowmobile trail in Wilmington on >>More


January, 2017

A Frustrating Winter For Backcountry Skiers

It’s been another frustrating winter for backcountry skiers. We haven’t had a big storm. Just as the snow starts to build up, we’re hit with a rainy thaw. That was the case again this week. Following an icy rain, we got a few inches of heavy, wet snow in Saranac Lake. This afternoon I skied the trails at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center to check out the conditions. The groomed trails on the lower slopes were in fine shape, as expected, but I was more interested in the ungroomed trails at the top, which are one indication of backcountry conditions. Again, no >>More


January, 2017

Don Mellor Publishes New Ice-Climbing Guidebook

Don Mellor’s second edition of Blue Lines: An Adirondack Ice Climber’s Guide, published this month (just in time for this weekend’s Mountainfest), is a testament to the popularity of an erstwhile fringe sport. In Blue Lines 2, the new title, Mellor describes almost six hundred ice-climbing routes throughout the Adirondack Park. In contrast, the 1995 edition of Mellor’s Climbing in the Adirondacks, described about 140 ice routes (and many more rock routes). The initial edition of Blue Lines covered about 350 ice routes. “Ed Palen told me that once Blue Lines was done in 2006, that would be it,” Mellor >>More


January, 2017

Powder Play In The Five Ponds Wilderness

I have not been delighted with the skiing conditions in the Lake Placid area this winter. There is decent snow, especially at higher elevations, but we haven’t had a big storm. As a result, rocky trails at lower elevations often lack adequate cover. And so last weekend I found myself driving west in search of deep powder. I found it in the Five Ponds Wilderness. My girlfriend Carol and I skied from Wanakena, a hamlet on the Oswegatchie River, to Glasby Pond about five miles away. As soon as we hit the trail, we were in heaven. Snow weighed down >>More


December, 2016

The Powder Is Gone, But We Still Have A Good Base

On Saturday, my girlfriend Carol and I skied up the unplowed Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway. From the tollbooth to the end of the road it’s a 5.4-mile climb, long but not very steep. It took us roughly three hours. Of course, the descent is the fun part. It normally takes less than an hour. Because there was so much powder, our downhill run took a little longer. In places, the skiing was almost too mellow, especially between the two hairpin turns. Often we pushed with our poles to sustain momentum. Since this was Carol’s first time skiing the highway, this >>More


November, 2016

John Turner’s Classic Climbs At Poke-o-Moonshine

Tuesday started out beautiful. Mild temperatures. Not a cloud in the sky. After voting, Will Roth and I drove from Saranac Lake to Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain to climb one of the cliff’s mega-classic routes, Gamesmanship. There was just one other party at the cliff: two guys were roping up for Gamesmanship as we arrived at the base. Two parties, with more than 300 routes to choose from, and both opted for Gamesmanship. That says plenty about this 575-foot route. The guidebook Adirondack Rock awards it five stars, its highest rating for the overall quality of the climbing. The route is also >>More


November, 2016

Pinned Steps: A Suitable Way Up Bedrock Trails?

The Adirondack Explorer‘s November/December issue is in the mail, but Mike Lynch’s story on deteriorating trails in the High Peaks is already gaining attention on the Adirondack Almanack, the Explorer‘s online journal. The article, headlined “Trails showing their age,” notes that a combination of poor design and heavy use has led to severe erosion on trails. Older trails tend to go straight up a slope. In some cases, erosion can be mitigated by rerouting the trails to create switchbacks. Unfortunately, at higher elevations, where the soil is thin, cutting into the slope to create switchbacks may not be possible. In a comment >>More


October, 2015

DEC Tickets Hiker After Keg Party On Phelps

You may have seen the photos on Facebook this week of a bunch of hikers having a keg party on top of Phelps Mountain. The photos sparked a lot of comments. Many people (not all) condemned the hikers. In researching the matter for the next issue of the Adirondack Explorer, Mike Lynch discovered that the guy behind the party has been ticketed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Given the interest in the story, we thought we’d post it here before we go to press.   By Mike Lynch and Phil Brown A hiker who posted photos of a keg party >>More


September, 2015

Biking An Old Woods Road To Pine Pond

Last winter Carol Fox and I skied from Averyville outside Lake Placid to Oseetah Lake outside Saranac Lake, following an old woods road that constitutes part of the northern boundary of the High Peaks Wilderness. We had a great time. You will be able to read about our adventure in a forthcoming issue of the Adirondack Explorer. On Labor Day weekend I returned to the old road with my mountain bike and rode about six and a half miles to Pine Pond, a beautiful body of water with a sandy beach. As on our ski trip, I saw ample evidence >>More


April, 2015

Yes, It’s April, But Don’t Put Away Skis Yet

It may be April, but there’s still skiing to be had in the backcountry. On Tuesday morning I skied to the top of Dewey Mountain outside Saranac Lake and enjoyed a fun run down in virtually midwinter conditions. Last weekend, Carol MacKinnon Fox and I skied over the summit of Mount Van Hoevenberg and found plenty of snow on the descent. There also was plenty of snow last weekend on the Mr. Van Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness. I hear the conditions at higher elevations were fantastic. The Adirondack Ski Touring Council reports there is still five to six >>More


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