Ascent of Mount Haystack on 2005-09-04

Climber: Luc Tremblay

Date:Sunday, September 4, 2005
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Haystack
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4961 ft / 1512 m

Ascent Trip Report

Even though I had done Giant and Big Slide which are 12th and 27th respectively in terms of height amongst the 46, I still wanted to do the higher ones in order at that time. I had done the 1st and 2nd ones (Marcy & Algonquin) so Haystack and Skylight stood next. It was easy to convince Daniel, but it was a little tougher to convince my wife it was a good thing for me to leave her with the kids for the Labour Day long weekend and go camping with a colleague. At first, we thought of hiking in on the Friday, do Haystack on Saturday, Skylight on Sunday and hike back out on Monday. From Elk Lake parking to Panther Gorge, we had 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) to hike with a vertical 610 metres (2000 feet) but yielding a net gain of only 350 metres (1150 feet) between the parking and the camping area because of a col on a hill between Elk Lake and Marcy Swamp. We figured, that even if we managed to leave the office at 11h30, we would not make it to Panther Gorge since it would take 3 hours to drive to Elk Lake which is farther south plus whatever we would waste at the border on this long weekend on I-87 leading directly to New York City close to 9-11. So we decided to leave early on Saturday morning and see once tented up there. We had talked to others interested at the office but only Daniel and I would end up going.

Daniel got to my home around 05h45, but we had to repack somewhat because I had most of the common stuff like the tent, the pots and the stove. We were further delayed at the border. Eventually we reached the parking and shouldered our packs: they seemed pretty heavy. It took us 9 gruelling hours with only short breaks to reach Panther Gorge lean-to. We pitched the tent just before dark and it started raining after a nice day. We sheltered ourselves in the lean-to to eat our spaghetti with a can of beer each I had brought at Daniel’s astonishment. A couple from New York City soon joined us.

We got up fairly early the next morning, but cooking breakfast, cleaning the dishes, hanging the food on a tree, filtering 5 litres of water takes time. We left camp at 8 o’clock. We started going up the steep backside of Haystack. Both of us were on a good day and with our daypack feeling so light we were climbing fast. There are a few rock pitches I really appreciated, I’m not so sure than Daniel did though… We reached the nice rocky summit before noon and did the summit chores: putting on more clothes, taking pictures of each others and eating our lunch, well part of it because we decided to go for Marcy. It was nice and sunny with a few clouds, a little cold at the very top because of the wind, but 5 metres (16 feet) down from the top, it was perfect. A big group of New Yorkers of Korean ascent soon joined us and started cooking rice and stir fries just off the summit, no kidding!

We left the summit and started going down and up again on Little Haystack. Took pictures of each other even on this minor summit then down again and up on another unnamed minor summit and down to the col between Haystack and Marcy where a trail comes up from John Brook Lodge. The ascent on the back – south – side of Haystack was quiet but our descent on the north side, the little hike in the wood going west and going up Marcy by the ‘normal’ way (up its north east slope) it was really crowded. Daniel stopped a few times to talk the nicest women but we were still doing good time. We reached the summit of Marcy around 15h00. Again, we dressed up, ate, took pictures, identified some of the other peaks (I wonder how many of the 46 can be seen on a clear day) with clouds coming in and going out and getting split by the mountain as its Indian name means. As on Haystack, we spend quite a bit of time on the summit. It was much warmer than my previous visit there a little less than 2 years earlier.

We packed up and started down the south side, but this time with a lot less to go than in 2003 and also in much better shape. I had just hiked 3 summits in August with my family including one 4000 footer (1270 metres, 4167 feet): Mont Jacques-Cartier in Québec.

On the way down, we met many groups of 2 or 3 (they looked like Pakistanis) who were very lightly clothed, wearing running shoes and with small half litre plastic bottle of water most of the time empty. They were going up Marcy. It still a puzzle to me where they were coming from and where they were going this far out this late in the day. When we reached Four Corners (right led down to Feldspar lean-to, straight led up Skylight and left back to our tent in Panther Gorge) after a brief discussion in spite of the late afternoon time Daniel and I decided to go up Skylight, the summit looked close, the afternoon clouds were quickly disappearing and we felt great. We reached the summit in 45 minutes from Four Corners. We were alone up there this late in the day with our very long shadows. The summit of Haystack looked gold with the sun going down close to the horizon on the opposite side. I took a few pictures, ate and drank what we had left and headed down. We were back at Four Corners quickly and then turned toward our camp. It was getting dark when we reached it. We had taken 10 hours with probably over 2 hours total spent on the 3 summits.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3528 ft / 1076 m
    Elevation Loss:936 ft / 286 m
    Distance:10.6 mi / 17.1 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3528 ft / 1076 m
    Extra Loss:568 ft / 173 m
    Distance:10.3 mi / 16.6 km
    Route:Elk Lake Marcy Trail & Haystack South Slope Trail
    Trailhead:Elk Lake Parking  2001 ft / 609 m
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:368 ft / 113 m
    Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Route:Haystack North Slope Trail
    Trailhead:Haystack - Little Haystack Col  4593 ft / 1399 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Panther Gorge (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Haystack2005-09-04 a
3Mount Marcy2005-09-04 c
4Mount Skylight2005-09-04 d

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