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Ascent of Mount Marcy on 1985-08-25

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:Guy Hebert----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, August 25, 1985
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Marcy
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:5344 ft / 1628 m

Ascent Trip Report

The lousy morning, rain and light breeze, wasn't going to stop Guy and I from our planned fast-paced climb of the day ....after all we didn't come to the mountains to sit in JBL. Breakfast was served at 7 AM so we couldn't get the early start that we wanted. We left the Lodge after a breakfast of cream of wheat, scrambled eggs and coffee cake, just before 8 oclock. The temperature was fairly comfortable. We both wore ponchos. We didn't know that this trip would be one of our most memorable ever trips.

We took the Phelps/Hopkins/Van Hoevenberg trails to the top of New York State. The weather had deteriorated, rain, windy and cold and the poor visibility wouldn't allow us to enjoy the majestic panorama. We didn't stop, it was too cold.

We descended the South side of Mount Marcy to the 4 Corners and turned right, West, to Lake Tear of the Clouds, the highest water source of the Hudson River. At its mouth, the West end of the Lake, we picked up a very rough herd path that led us to the top of Gray Peak, Again no view and cold and not time to enjoy the summit. So far we had stopped only for liquids and perhaps not enough, we were completely soaked and had to keep moving in order not to get chilled.

We back tracked to the 4 Corners and took the trail right, South, which climbs 677 vertical feet to the summit of Skylight. Back down to the 4 Corners in 30 minutes for our first snack of the day, too cold to stop so we ate as we walked. I can tell you that it's not a good idea if you're eating food like an apple, very hard to digest. The time was closing in on 13hoo hours, we had covered 8.4 miles in 5 hours.

We descended East to Panther Gorge lean-to where we took our first well deserved lunch break of the day, getting chilled at the same time. Looking back on this day it's evident that we didn't take in enough liquids and calories and the main reason for the aches and pains that we would experience after the climbing. We had to run around somewhat looking for the trail to Haystack, the worst climb of the day. This section of the climb, 1715 vertical feet, seemed to go on forever. We now had fog, light drizzle and 10-20 feet of visibility and to make matters worse we were both tired with the odd cramp. As we neared the summit we kept getting these images of a summit through the fog, only to be disappointed with a only rock outcrop. It never seemed to end. We were relieved to finally get to the summit of Mount Haystack. Again no view, the photos that we took attests to these conditions. The time was 16hoo hours and we could now see an end to our day.

From Haystack it is all down hill except for the short climb over Little Haystack. We made our way to the Range Trail that led us to the Phelps trail and then back down to JBL. Through-out the day Guy and I had little time to chit-chat, conversation centered on the trail and the weather conditions, the focus was on the walking, making sure of our footing. Conditions were far from ideal.

We arrived JBL at 18h30 hours, in time for turkey dinner. We had put in a tough and rough 10 1/2 hour day, climbed over 6100 vertical feet and walked 16.7 miles. Not bad, we were proud of our accomplishment, however we were completely exhausted, sore all over and difficult to move once you sat down. We put on a happy face at the dinner table for the rest of the guests. Our original plan was to do another hike tomorrow.

We woke up next morning with extreme sore cramped legs and had great difficulty walking. Our quads were were the worst, especially going up and down stairs. We decided to abort today's climb and walk out later in the morning. We walked out after a breakfast of oatmeal and pancakes and drove to EMS in Lake Placid before the long drive home. This would be a trip that Guy and I would never forget. The actual suffering was to follow.

POSTSCRIPT
I was the lucky one, I had scheduled holidays the following day so I could get all the rest I needed. Rose and I went to Atlantic City a few days later and I had great difficulty just negotiating ramps on the boardwalk.
Guy, an Electrical Specialist in the Engineering Department, was not so lucky. He had to go to work the next day and for his first assignment he was called to check out an electrical problem with the Skip Hoist on top of the Furnace Building. He had to walk up some 200 vertical feet and crawl around the skip hoist. No fun.
Our recuperation time was fairly long.

**** NB: As the years pass-by, and now that I am in the Autumn of my year, I always look back on this trip as "What we were able to do in the good ole days". An outstanding day.

"SOME DREAM .... SOME DO .... FEW DO BOTH"
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3028 ft / 923 m
    Elevation Loss:3028 ft / 923 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3028 ft / 923 m
    Distance:16.3 mi / 26.2 km
    Route:from jbl-phelps/hopkins/van hoevenberg trails
    Trailhead:johns brook lodge, phelps trail  2316 ft / 705 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:3028 ft / 923 m
    Route: trail to 4 corners
    Trailhead:johns brook lodge, phelps trail  2316 ft / 705 m
Ascent Part of Trip: marcy1

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Mount Marcy1985-08-25 a
2Gray Peak1985-08-25 b
3Mount Skylight1985-08-25 c
4Mount Haystack1985-08-25 d
5Little Haystack1985-08-25 e



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