Ascent of Shepherds Tooth on 2009-09-24

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Date:Thursday, September 24, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Shepherds Tooth
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4593 ft / 1399 m

Ascent Trip Report

Trail hike from Heart Lake over Algonquin followed by a sb herd path over Boundary and Iroquois on the way to Shepherds Tooth. Returned via cold brook trail and Indian Pass trail.

My destination today was the summit of Shepherds Tooth, a requirement for my PB list "NE USA 4000-FOOT PEAKS".

Plan A was to climb Sherpherds Tooth and Marshall from the col between the two peaks, however I didn't trust my information for Shepherds Tooth ..... there apparently existed an obscure rough herd path from the col. I was first here in 1986, after a failed attempt on Marshall, so I knew that this flank of the mountain had some tall rock faces and it would be difficult. I opted for plan B ..... an out and back hike over the MacIntyre Range from Heart Lake to Shepherds Tooth and leave Marshall for another time.

The trail and herd path climbs over Algonquin, Boundary and Iroquois were uneventful except to say that..... in the old days not too many hikers would pass me on these types of climbs, not the case today however, everyone passes me. This is my 6th climb to Algonquin, a super mountain.

At Iroquois I took my second break of the day (I had left the TH at the Heart lake 3 3/4 hours earlier). As is the case on the high Peaks, even on warm days the summits are for the most part always windy and cool, and today was no exception. I must note that the herd path to here was extremely wet and muddy at a number of places.
I sat on the East side below the summit of Iroquois for my lunch, sheltered from the wind, I was able to check out the route to Shepherds Tooth .... a number of small cairns led to the tree line and the start of a herd path to the summit, apppearing to be a stones throw away.

Just before leaving a hiker came down and sat close by, he was going sb on the same herd path as I, on the way to Marshall and beyond. I wished him well as I left for Sheperds Tooth with the plan to back track to here.
The herd path was rough at a few places with a number of small ledges, not difficult. I summited in short order (a small cairn on a large rock), I could see the hiker that I just left nearing the col below me as I descended to the same spot.
I decided to return via plan A instead of going back over the MacIntyres. After the usual introductions, Gary, a retired gentleman from Tupper Lake, agreed to lead me down, I thanked him for leading me down but he warned,
"Don't thank me yet, we have to get down first, there are some huge rock faces that we have to negotiate."

From the shallow col the fairly good but rough herd path went to the west side of Shephereds Tooth, it was easy to follow. We had to descend a number of fairly difficult high ledges, some blowdown.
When we arrived towards the bottom we found ourselves at the very top of the tall rock wall faces that was noted earlier (40-50 feet high). No way down.
Gary first tried going right to no avail, we came back and stayed at the top of the face to the left, really rough with short ups and downs. After a short distance we came upon a near-vertical chute with vegetation and evidence of a path, using the vegetation as hand holds we were able to slowly work our way down. Once down it is a short distance to the col (Sheperds tooth and Marshall) and the Cold Brook Trail.

Where the herd path comes out at the Trail it is not obvious, its fairly obscure. It is located at the west end of the flat portion of the col, just as the trail starts its descends to the west. The Cold Brook Trail descends slightly to the west a very short distance to a large cairn on the left . This is the start of a wide herd path to Marshall, can't be missed.
The rock wall face negotiated above is huge (tall and long), we were lucky to find the chute .... all the thanks goes to Gary ....... You definitely don't want to go the right as we did. I was very lucky to have met Gary, it was meant to be that I do this part of this herd path.
The time of day didn't allow me to follow Gary up to the Marshall-Northeast Peak .... I'll think about coming back in the morning.

I descended the Cold Brook Trail to the west, then the Indian Pass Trail nb to Heart Lake parking. I got out at 17h00 hours after 12.85 miles and a 9 hour day. Very satisfied with my decisions.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:153 ft / 46 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2474 ft / 754 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.5 mi / 12 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:93 ft / 28 m
    Distance:0.2 mi / 0.4 km
    Route:herd path sb from Iroquois peak/out at heart lake
    Start Trailhead:Iroquois peak  4500 ft / 1371 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2474 ft / 754 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2414 ft / 735 m; Extra: 60 ft / 18m
    Gain on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:7.2 mi / 11.6 km
    Route:herd path sb/cold brook tr wb/indian pass tr nb
    End Trailhead:heart lake  2179 ft / 664 m
Ascent Part of Trip: shepherds tooth

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Algonquin Peak2009-09-24 a2936 ft / 895 m
2Boundary Peak2009-09-24 b329 ft / 100 m
3Iroquois Peak2009-09-24 c217 ft / 66 m
4Shepherds Tooth2009-09-24 d153 ft / 47 m
Total Trip Gain: 3635 ft / 1108 m    Total Trip Loss: 2507 ft / 764 m

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