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
On Saturday I skied Mount Marcy and was surprised at how good the snow conditions were. I began at the start of South Meadow Road and had to take my skis off only once, on a fifty-yard stretch of the Marcy Dam Truck Trail. To be sure, the trails were hard and sometimes icy on the approach to Marcy Dam and the first mile or so beyond, but above “50-Meter Bridge” (the second crossing of Phelps Brook), there was good snow: packed powder, with fluffier stuff outside the well-trodden track. Somewhat surprisingly, given the gorgeous day, I saw no other >>More
He had a watch but was afraid to look at it. Instead he tried to gauge time by the slow movement of the stars across the sky. Alas, he forgot that he set his watch alarm for 4 a.m. “When it went off, I was disappointed,” he said. “I knew I had to wait some more.” By then, Steve Mastaitis had been curled up inside a snow hole near the summit of Mount Marcy for more than nine hours, shivering uncontrollably, suffering from frostbite, fearing the worst. The temperature fell to near zero during the night, with a wind-chill factor of >>More
I recently wrote a blog for Adirondack Almanack about an art exhibit featuring the work of Anne Diggory, who often paints Adirondack landscapes. When asked which of her Adirondack paintings was her favorite, she replied that it was a scene of Panther Gorge as seen from Mount Marcy. I thought people would like to see the painting, so I posted it above. Diggory painted two studies of the scene in 2001—one a watercolor, the other acrylic—while visiting her daughter Ariel, who was then a summit steward. “The watercolor set the composition and the smaller one (along with photographs) set the >>More
I hiked the Van Hoevenberg Trail to Mount Marcy today (Saturday) and found it fine shape, despite a few changes wrought by Hurricane Irene. It was just two days after the state Department of Environmental Conservation reopened the eastern High Peaks, and many hikers were out enjoying the sunshine. Starting at Adirondak Loj, the Van Hoevenberg Trail is the shortest and most popular route to the state’s highest summit. It ascends 3,166 feet over 7.4 miles. As we reported earlier, the floods caused by Irene washed away at the bridge at Marcy Dam, located 2.3 miles from the Loj. Consequently, >>More
If you’re thinking of climbing Mount Marcy from Adirondak Loj this weekend, you should plan for a longer-than-usual journey, thanks to the loss of a log bridge over Phelps Brook. The bridge that hikers use to cross the brook in high water was washed downstream about a week ago, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Winchell said DEC is advising hikers to take a detour that will add roughly a mile to the round trip to Marcy, making it about sixteen miles. Ordinarily, hikers starting at the Loj take the Van Hoevenberg Trail, >>More
Last weekend I encountered Mark Meschinelli and Dave Hough, two members of the notorious Ski to Die Club, on the trail to Mount Marcy. Back in the seventies and eighties, Mark, Dave, and their crew set a standard in boldness by tackling difficult terrain–slides, frozen brooks, glades, you name it–in the gear of the day, namely lightweight leather boots and skinny skis. These guys still got it. After summiting, I skied down with them and took a short video of Mark making parallel turns on the ski trail below Indian Falls. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear he’s >>More
A diehard’s search for snow on Marcy.