Ascent of Rusk Mountain on 2019-11-29

Climber: Ed Kobos

Others in Party:Kelly
Date:Friday, November 29, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Rusk Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3680 ft / 1121 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today was the day AFTER Thanksgiving.
There was NO snow, on the ground in the Utica area.
When we arrived at the Spruceton Rd. Trail Head, there was some packed snow and ice, in the parking lot. When we signed in at the register, we noticed that there was only 1 other individual heading to Rusk, although there were a half dozen vehicles parked. My tiny thermometer showed the low 20's.

The woods had only a dusting of snow, with some packed snow and ice on the truck trail heading UP. Kelly & I decided that we would bring our traction devices but not to bring our snow shoes. We easily followed the road, north, to the bridge over Hunter Brook. We exited the trail to begin our bushwhack, just before the horse shoe turn to the right and crossed one small drainage re-entrant, to the west. We started to climb and kept the much larger drainage, to our left as we climbed. As we gained elevation, we found some pretty frost formations growing on the thin branches of bushes and trees. The climb was moderate and we took our time. There were a few rocky sections and what looked like animal herd paths heading diagonally "up". The snow became deeper as we climbed, now between 1-2 inches. We continued to make our own trail keeping the larger re-entrant to our left. We hit a few small flat sections in between the steeper sections, before we came close to the summit. After about 1.5 hours we hit quite a few larger rock formations/cliffs which we easily bypassed to the right or left. The last cliff forced us to detour about 75 yards to the west. As we approached the ridge, we found 1 set of fresh footprints, in the much deeper (3-4") snow, heading westerly. It appeared that there was a high point just ahead, so we headed toward where the prints came from. After about 25 feet, the trail split and I could see the bright orange summit canister, to the left. We took a break to open the canister and "sign IN'. There were NO views, in any direction. We took pictures at the canister and ate lunch. Our descent plan was to head to East Rusk, along the ridge, then head toward the Hunter trail. There was NO obvious trail and the underbrush was thick. We tried to follow some foot prints, as they meandered all around blow down and thick brush. There was also a distinct wind on top that filled in the prints making them hard to follow. The snow on the way to East Rusk also became deeper as the canopy opened. There were pockets of snow that approached a foot deep, with most places 4-6". Following the ridge and compass heading we kept the ridge to our left, as we progressed toward East Rusk. There were no obvious foot prints there. We bagged the idea for following the ridge to the marked trail and started to head down through the much more open forest. The snow quickly lost its depth as we descended. We could see what appeared to be herd paths, and followed them down as much as possible, but they all faded out a while. After about 45 minutes of descending, I heard and saw some hikers on what appeared to be the horse shoe turn. We came out at the same place we entered. Time up and down were about the same, with the extra trip to East Rusk.
This was my 15th and Kelly's 1st Catskill High Peak.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1670 ft / 508 m
    Total Elevation Loss:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Grade/Class:Class IV
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Fog on Summit, occasional sun
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1570 ft / 478 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:Bushwhack between drainage re-entrants
    Start Trailhead:Spruceton Rd. DEC Trail Head  2110 ft / 643 m
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:100 ft / 30 m
    Gain on way out:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:0.7 mi / 1.2 km
    Route:Ridge to East Rusk, then bushwhack to original TH
    End Trailhead:Spruceton Rd TH  
    Time:1 Hours 0 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: East Rusk

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Rusk Mountain2019-11-291670 ft / 509 m
Total Trip Gain: 1670 ft / 509 m    Total Trip Loss: 100 ft / 30 m

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