Ascent of Armstrong Mountain on 2016-01-09

Climber: Richard Hachem

Date:Saturday, January 9, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Armstrong Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4429 ft / 1349 m

Ascent Trip Report

Colvin Range (DNCB) + Sawteeth + Lower Great Range (2016/01/09 - 0h20am)

One of the reasons I didn’t continue after my mishap on Saddleback two weeks ago was that I still had to go grab Sawteeth. So this loop would bag the missing 46ers in the area. My dream loop would have also included the dix range through the gravestone brook, but it didn’t look optimal for a solo hike, needing two cars.

For this loop, I was really happy that two friends had joined me. Alex is an adventure racer and Karine a tough mountain biker. She proposed we leave at midnight and this turned out to be an awesome idea that I’ll use for 10+ hours hikes. These kind of hikes are not for the views, but for the adventure so going by headlamp is not a problem and then we get light when it is mostly needed. Having friends is a huge moral and confidence booster. After all this time, I’m still scared when I’m soloing at night in remote areas, not at all with friends.

The loop looks very nice on paper!

We started very slow, this was going to be long day. I had prepared a very nice map, but took the wrong one :/ Trails were very well packed and we put on the spikes to better grab snow. My friends were stopping to change clothes often, but they were also giving me plenty of comfort food. It was nice eating things like macaroni and drink coke, I usually don’t eat or drink anything when hikes are under 10h and something like a ziplock bag of nuts and dried fruits when longer. Dial and Nippletop went by smoothly and we dropped our packs when a mountain involved a return.

We slowed down towards Elk Pass not sure we were on the right track, not having my hand map wasn'’t convenient, but it was fine. No issues for Calvin and Blake. All ice I saw last month was hidden under snow, but I think the spikes were still grabbing some of it. Going down the elevator shaft, there was no tracks anymore, we were thinking of taking the snowshoes to make a nice trail, but mine are extra light and the snowpack was not thick enough to avoid hitting rocks. So we spiked it down.

At the bottom, we switched to snowshoes. The sunrise was barely starting and Karine had an energy boost and was pulling us fast. Even behind my friends, I was breaking through the crust under snow at each step, but it wasn’t too bad. Sunrise came when climbing up sawteeth and it was good since it would have been hard navigating the trail in open woods and none of us had been here before. It was nice seeing how we approached through the notch. I was falling asleep before, but now navigating and light woke me up. I was leading towards the notch and attention to detail was needed to see signs of trail. Alex took the lead breaking trail up sawteeth, this was tough. This guy never tires, he had a 26lbs pack not counting his three layers of clothes now full of water in it.

Top left: Close to Warden's camp
Bottom left: Spotted near Warden's camp
Right: Navigating the open woods

Up there, I was eager to see other people and at least to see the trail packed again. No trails or signs of life until we got to the Sawteeth/Gothics jct we saw solo footsteps. So we passed gothics and armstrong fast, energy was back.

Then we met lots of people at lower wolfjaw, we told them we came from upper wolfjaw and conditions were nice. The return was a bit lengthy, but the trail was soft on the knees. I took my spikes off a couple of miles from the end to safe my feet. Back at the car it was 2pm and I was very sleep deprived, but fine enough to drive to Elk Lake while eating bread, cheese, chips and coke. Technical: pack total 16lbs including 1.3L water, 200g dried fruits & nuts, big down jacket, goretex pants, ice axes, hill sounds spikes, snowshoes, extra headlamp, safety stuff (map, compass, water filter, safety blanket, first aid), gloves and electronics (cell, sat phone, charger).

Glad we could finish in daylight
26.2miles, 13 120ft, 14h40
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, 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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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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