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Ascent of Crocker Mountain on 2016-01-03

Climber: Richard Hachem

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, January 3, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Crocker Mountain
    Location:USA-Maine
    Elevation:4226 ft / 1288 m

Ascent Trip Report

Looking back, Yesterday was a warm up for today. The plan was to leave the car at Caribou Valley road and start at Sugarloaf and do the clockwise loop. Sugarloaf to Abraham had been broken by the FousdeRando group the day before so that would go very fast. Escape route would be the Caribou road and I was pretty sure that Redington and the Crockers would be broken, so I would be in safe territory. I had a trail trace on my cellphone, map and compass. The bag weighted 12 pounds including a small ziplock of figs and nuts, 4 gels and 1.5L water. Temperatures were going to dip later tonight and I would be pretty weak at the end, but I felt safe with my big down jacket.

I had my snowshoes on since the start. It took about about an hour to get on top of Sugarloaf, it was steep and my ice axe used like a cane really helped get traction and keep balance. My calves didn’t hurt as much as yesterday when climbing up Saddleback. The top was all white in frozen clouds and hard crust. Used the GPS to find the trailhead. From here, the trail was beautifully broken so it went fast as planned until Abraham where it got pretty hard orienteering. I used my cellphone and broken 2 feet snow because previous trail had disappeared. Cairns weren’t very functional like I’m used in the whites.

Going back following my tracks was fun. Ate 3 figs and drank a bit, it felt good. I was planning to take the appalachian trail and join the logging road, but instead decided to bushwhack west to the road through the saddle. It looked wide and seemed pretty easy and so it was until half way in a big open area where I clearly lost the herd path and started stumbling on logs under snow and getting a bit cold. Using the compass and aiming right of Lone Mtn I managed to find my way and get to the road. I also found that hide to pursue with a very long miserable walk. Instead of seeking snowmobile tracks, I saw endless roads with 2-3 feet of heavy snow, nothing packed or broken. I had a bunch of miles to do until I rejoined the Appalachian. I was feeling tired, but safe enough knowing that Redington and Crockers would be done fast. The semi open area and the snow falling all along got me a bit cold. I kept on, still keeping only a base layer and hard shell. I don’t like using my other layers, they are for last resort and instead prefer to suffer the cold and try to heat back. It works most of the time.

I eventually got to a broken bridge explaining the lack of snowmobile tracks, did some acrobatics to pass it and after this, packed snow, what a joy to only dip 3 inches instead of 1+ foot each step. I followed the road and decided to climb Redington from the notch, which would be easier to retrace going back. It look really easy and thought I would be done in 15 minutes. I drank and ate a handful of figs and nuts. Now I understood my friend told me that a group had broken trail on Redington and it was all marked, but maybe he said 2 weeks ago. The trail was not broken, but I went for it, dropped my bag, added a medium polar layer and took my head lamp just in case. I managed to find the markers going through least resistance and always looking for broken twigs. It wasn’t trivial and I was losing much time. My sweat had frozen on the hardshell. I eventually summited and went back fast to my bag.

Now going to the Crockers turned out to be pretty nasty. It was a marked bushwhack and the route was marked, but it was even harder to follow. It was around 5pm and even though I had a good headlamp, I couldn’t see the markers anymore. So I had to retrace the track using the cellphone, stopping every time and removing a glove. My hands were very cold now, but I was still heating enough, on the edge. I’m glad it was a climb and I would use my compass a lot to orient which I didn’t need to remove my gloves. I went through some panic and frustration to happiness when I would stumble back on a marker. The herd path often went through dense bush so I felt I had to stay on it instead of trying to go around. At least I was always going up. I knew I could go back, but this would take the whole night. Finally I arrived at South Crocker and what a pleasure to find track from one snowshoer there.

I dropped my bag, ran the downhill to Crocker and struggled up, ran back down, suffered the uphill again. I read before that these were some of the easiest 115 and this was very motivating. I was also very glad these were wooded summits. I was very low energy now and fueling on fat I guess. I can go on a very long time like this, but very slow. I could still go fast on the downhill. Later I lost the trail, I was freezing so decided to wear my hard shell pants to stop getting snow and losing heat from the legs and big down jacket. I ate and drank what I had left. What a great feeling to have the extra clothes on and now my bag felt very light at 7 pounds. So I retraced, used my GPS tried many routes and finally found the trail which would lose lots of elevation. I’d only feel really safe once on the Caribou road, but it was pretty obvious I was on the right path and finally I got on the road. It was a long walk back, but I was safe now. This is not what I was looking for, but it really tested my limits and gave me experience.

Here are my splits:
7:15 AM sugarloaf parking
8:21 AM sugarloaf summit
9:21 AM spaulding summit
11:02 AM abraham summit
11:45 AM abraham base bushwhak start
12:18 PM out of bushwhack on road
2:48 PM start of redington bushwhack
3:36 PM redington summit
3:50 PM redignton base
5:24 PM bushwack to crocker
6:02 PM crocker summit
6:35 PM back to crocker
8:09 PM caribou pond road
9:41 PM car

WARNING, don't base your times on these splits.
Expect to take about twice this time in similar conditions if you're not highly trained and traveling ultra light.
I had a 13lbs pack including food and water for full winter conditions and must have stopped for a total of 15 minutes.

https://www.strava.com/activities/463310554/overview
Summary Total Data
    Gear Used:
Snowshoes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Richard Hachem
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