Ascent of Mount Matumbla on 2011-11-19

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:supported by Rose
Date:Saturday, November 19, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Matumbla
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:2688 ft / 819 m

Ascent Trip Report

An overall moderate road/track/bushwack westbound ...... 6.6 miles, 5h30 hours RT.

I have been looking at this climb for quite a while, this spring I called Stan St. Lewis of Mount Matumbla Club (photographed in Gary Fallesen's book) for permission to enter the property. He told me that they do not allow hikers in the park for the usual reason "liability, their insurance doesn't allow it" and that he didn't authorize Fallesen to use his name in the book ..... although it appears to me that he posed for the photo in the book. It seems to me that the Club should allow access even if its only for some specified yearly date. Failing the Fallesen's approach from the west I decided to approach the Mountain from the east as per Michael Schwartz's 2002 TR.

I visited this mountain twice, the first time (2011-11-06) I made a mistake by going straight at the Height-Of-Land past the Hunters Cabin (on this first visit the Cabin had a huge USA flag flying, smoke coming out of the chimney, truck parked to one side, the hunters I chatted with told me that it was too warm for hunting, wished me well). By the time I realized that I made a mistake and got back to the the Height-Of-Land, I had lost an hour, this together with my late start prompted me to abort the climb when I got past "Point A" (see below).
On my second visit (today) the cabin was closed with no one around.

I used Michael's TH and the same route. From Tupper Lake (Junction hwy 3/30-south at the stop light) we traveled west on hwy 3 for 2.4 miles to a right turn on Haymeadow Road (this is .5 miles west of Holy Name Church in the Village of Tupper Lake), .1 mile left on Pitchfork Pond Road, then 2.7 miles to the west side of Pitchfork Pond (on the right), parked here just beside the Pond. Across the road is a gated Woods Road with the Camp Buck-Horn building inside to the right of the Road, a wide path opening is to the left of the gate. This is a snowmobile trail, signs read "Beware of Groomers", "Please help keep trail clean", there are no signs prohibiting entry. This is the TH, the summit is to the west about 3 miles.

I walked west on the Dirt Road as it climbs gradually to a flat area with stretches of wet, slight descent to a 4-way main intersection (about .9 miles, 20 minutes, clearly shown on the Google Terrain Map)). I stayed/continued straight (signs points to "Cranberry Lake") as the Road drops to a low area with a Hunters Camp on the right then climbs to a Height-of-Land with a clearing to the right, beyond the clearing is a heavily overgrown track (1.3 miles, 30 minutes from the TH, clearly shown on the Google Topo Map). This is where I made my mistake on my first visit.

I turned right on the overgrown track (has a herd path) ascending/passing spot elevation 1879' shown on the Topo, then descending (the track much rougher, not much of a head path and more like a bushwack) to a T-junction with another heavily overgrown track before a low wet area in the valley bottom (also shown on the Topo). Ignore the numerous side tracks, always stay straight, a point of reference on the descent is the col to the right of the summit across the valley.
At the T-junction I continued straight/bushwacked (west), as Michael did, across the wet/boggy area (about 200 yards) to another badly overgrown track on the other side (also on the Topo) which I call this "Point A". On this day the boggy area was fairly dry and I blazed this short section of the bushwack with pink flag tape.
From the Height-of-Land to "Point A" I estimated it at .7 miles (or approx 2 miles, 1 hour from TH).
From the Topo this spot is in Franklin County perhaps 100 yards east of the Saint Lawrence/Franklin Co Line. This is where I turned around on my first visit.

The woods in this area are all open deciduous and therefore easy bushwacking (from the distance on my hike down I could see evergreens on the ridge/summit area). I decided to start my climb here (Michael went southwest on the track for a bit before starting his climb, I more or less descended his route). From "Point A" I took/followed a 280 degree magnetic Compass Line to the summit (approx 1.3 miles) staying right at obstacles in order to hit the ridge to the north of the summit. My route traverses the slope therefore it has a number of easy ups/downs.
At about 300-400 yards I crossed the Club's red blazed/posted Boundary Line, the easy/gradual/open deciduous woods gives way to evergreen as you get higher and the grade steepens. I had to negotiate a rocky steep area, the floor of the open/old-evergreen woods is overgrown with young sapling with some blowdown, at places fairly dense.
After the steep section the grade eases, I went over a few minor bumps, crossed a low wet area before the final climb to the main broad ridge. The bushwacking to here is not difficult.

Once on the ridge I looked/followed the highground to the summit area, which together with its fairly rough terrain and a number of rocky/moss-covered small ridges, is a huge jumble/messy area caused by an old blowdown, perhaps 50 yards square. The contending highpoints are amid this mess so I had no choice but to fight my way through. Finally choosing my HP at the west end of this mess, a bump with a huge 6 foot high erratic rock (I believe the same one chosen by Michael). My GPS read 44.28241, -74.56468. My not-too-reliable eye level told me that the actual high ground is perhaps 10 yards to the west on the rock. The 1.3 mile climb from "Point A" took me 1h50 hours.
I should also note that ribbon tapes that Michael refers-too are non-existent, except for a very small knot of pink tape that was on the ground beside the rock. Since this is private land off-limits to Peakbaggers so my guess is that someone removed the ribbons and for this reason I chose not to add any.

For the descent I looked for a different route, choosing a 145 degree magnetic Compass Line with minimum blowdown and after a few hundred yards left the summit's rough area. The evergreen woods are more open and not as dense, and after a short distance I stayed more on a 125 Line as the terrain steepens (much more so than the ascent), rough at a number of places, little blowdown but no ups and downs. This route is mostly evergreen except at the very bottom before you get to the track (shown on the Topo). I descended to the track in 45 minutes, at a point approx .7 miles southwest of "Point A". The track at this point is very good however it tends to go left as you near "Point A", so I stayed/followed lesser/wet tracks to the right in order to get back to "A". Summit to "Point A" took 1h05 hour.
My descent route is perhaps easier except for the .3 miles of much steeper terrain. If one uses this route for the ascent he should aim left of the summit in order to avoid the summit's blowdown.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1981 ft / 603 m
    Elevation Loss:1981 ft / 603 m
    Distance:6.6 mi / 10.6 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1581 ft / 482 m
    Extra Loss:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:3.3 mi / 5.3 km
    Route:road/track/bushwack from pitchfork pond road
    Trailhead:pitchfork pond  1607 ft / 489 m
    Time Up:2 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1481 ft / 451 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Distance:3.3 mi / 5.3 km
    Route:road/track/bushwack from pitchfork pond road
    Trailhead:pitchfork pond  1607 ft / 489 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 5 Minutes

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