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Ascent of Slide Mountain on 2009-02-28

Climber: Alan Bangel

Others in Party:alone
Date:Saturday, February 28, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Slide Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4180 ft / 1274 m

Ascent Trip Report

My first Winter hike, I chose a fabulous day that couldn't be beat so each one after this is likely to be a notch down on a quality scale.

I was up at 5:00AM and on the road out of town by 5:30(onion bagel and cream cheese and coffee in hand).
I was better prepared than usual because I had planned to hike the previous week and called it off, so I had more time to think about this one. As is usual; also, all that planning tends to get in the way of restful sleep, so all I could think about was what the conditions might be like and what I might come up against, I did not sleep well Friday night and Thursday night was a short sleep because I hit the sack at 2:30AM and the boys had me up before 7:00AM. I think about all these things as part of the adventure.

The sun was up early so the trip was mostly in the light. Generally uneventful and since I'm getting familiar with the area I did not need to refer to maps to get me to the trailhead. I arrived at 8:36.

The parking lot was a sheet of ice, to treacherous for sneakers. I moved to the back of the van and exchanged them for hiking boots, at the same time putting on proper socks and ski pants. On the entire trip up I continued to think about the hiking conditions and what I needed to wear. The start would be cold and I was going to warm-up quickly and begin shedding things I didn't need. As the elevation increased the tree protection will be reduced and I would need more protection at the top. You could see the frost on the trees half way up the mountain side. I decided long john's were a bad idea because taking them off would present a problem. I finally was able to get out of the car and open the hatch. From there I could get my snowshoes on (which made walking in the parking lot easy) and prepare my pack with supplies for the trip. Even though this is just a day hike I always over plan in the event of whatever.

There were two other cars in the parking lot. Three hikers, a group, were talking and prepping for their hike. Though I arrived after them I was ready to go before them and struck out on my own. After signing in I proceeded about 30 feet into the woods, following a trail blazed by others before me, when I saw that the trail was about six inches below water. The first of two stream beds that I needed to cross was searching for an easy route to travel and had decided that the depression made by previous snowshoes was as good a route as any. I could hear the water rushing under me and I could see it rushing in front of me. I took a few steps off to the left towards a rise that looked like it could carry me over the flow but I immediately punched through the ice and the toes of the snowshoes went 6 inches down and into several inches of water. I backed up, how do I get across?

Having listened to the hikers behind me I decided that one of them sounded more experienced than the others and was checking them on their equipment choices. I selected to stay where I was until they arrived and see if the "experienced one" had a plan to approach this situation. I'm green as a winter hiker, getting wet and cold at the beginning was not a good way to start, hey, I'm alone most of the time but willing to learn. In the end he just very slowly picked another route and as luck would have it was successful. (I was carrying another pair of dry socks, but what can be done with wet boots, and pants).
From this point on the trail made by previous hikers held true and except for a few small tributaries that had cut through the route, there were surprisingly little problems as we continued. The three hikers moved faster than I, as I learned to climb with snowshoes. Soon I could no longer see or hear them. At .7 miles I came upon them again taking a hydration break and map reading to decide which trail to use as an approach to the summit. There were two choices and they finally decided on the longer route(Curtis-Ormsbee Trail). I turned left choosing the (Burroughs Range Trail) shorter(2 mile) and steeper climb. After another half mile I broke for hydration and to start shedding layers. The winter ski jacket came off and was stored on the back of my pack. I hiked for the next hour and a half in my shirt sleeves(very little wind about 5 mph and a temp around 25)but found an easy pace that felt comfortable without creating a lot of sweat. I knew this route, having traveled it twice before, about two tenths of a mile from the summit with the wind picking up and the frost on the trees getting thicker I re-dressed and continued in comfort past the summit and out onto a clear rock where most people tend to gather and lunch. (Note the picture where I am shooting up at the rock perch.)(and the picture of me standing on the rock perch) The actual mountain summit preceeds the perch by several hundred feet, but the summit is in the trees while the perch is open.
Within 5 minutes two other hikers joined me on the perch, we talked and they decided to follow the longer way down since they had come up the way I had. They snacked, they told me the time was 11:25AM, took pictures, checked maps, we talked about hiking the Adirondacks(they wanted to) and completing the 3500 requirements, they left.

I spent about 15 more minutes on the summit alone. Decided to try hiking down wearing the crampons instead of the snowshoes because the hard-pack snow along the trail seemed solid, and I decided to take the longer route down also.

The features of the trail down were quite different than the trail up. More stretches of flat terrain with occasional steep pitches. The snowshoes would have been a real problem on the steep pitches. I was glad to be using the crampons; but, on the flat areas I would periodically punch through the icy crust and bury my leg up past my knee. I ended up with a kink in my back. Switching back and forth from crampons to snowshoes is not a quick easy process. When I reached the bottom of the Curtis-Ormsbee Trail I re-snowshoed for the last 1.5 miles back to the parking area. I was back at the car just before 3:00PM.

Easy trip home arriving just after 6:00PM. Chris and the boys got home just around 7:00PM.
I managed to get to bed around 1:30AM but still didn't sleep as well as I had hoped for.

Pictures are under separate e-mail.
Al
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1780 ft / 543 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1780 ft / 543 m
    Trailhead:2400 ft / 731 m
Descent Statistics



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