Success On Snowy
Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
After getting turned back in December Nicole, Nate and I were chomping at the bit for another opportunity to summit Snowy. I decided to get an earlier start this time to give us a better chance at success. We left Syracuse at 5:30, stopped at a convenience store (homemade donuts!) in Speculator, and were at the trailhead by 8 am. We packed up and headed out, at the trail register we gout a very pleasant surprise; someone had summited the day before and the trail was broken with the exception of 3-6 of powder on top.|
We started off at a absurd pace just to get warmed up and then we slowed to a regular pace. We made great time to the first crossing of the brook and we were ecstatic to find snow bridges across the most difficult crossing. On our previous attempt the stream crossings were difficult and the footing was terrible. This time there was a great base of 10-24" of hard packed snow with powder on top. There were a few spots with open water/mud but they were easily navigated. Eventually we reached the last brook crossing and began our climb.
The climb was not as difficult as anticipated because we didn't have to deal with rocks and roots like last time, plus the snow we had to "break trail" through was very light and fluffy so it was easily hiked. We made great time on the moderate part of the climb but slowed when we made the turn and began the steep climb. What had been an icy snowy mess last time was a nice snow filled gully with a previously broken track up it this time. We had carried ice axes and crampons in anticipation of this section. However, we were able to climb confidently with MSR snowshoes.
Eventually we reached where we turned back last time, and it was nice to continue the climb this time as everyone was feeling great. We continued and after some more difficult climbing we reached the summit lookout. We took a quick break for some pictures and then continued to the fire tower. Although it was painful to turn back last time (especially so close to the top), in retrospect it was still the right decision. We enjoyed the views from the tower (we ended up using crampons to climb the steps which were coated with 6" of water ice on the lower levels). After eating lunch and layering up we began our descent.
For the descent of the steep section at the top we decided to practice our mountaineering technique (more specifically the seated glissade) and made quick work of that section (it was nice to use the ice axes that we carried the whole way). The rest of the descent was nice, though at the bottom my feet started to bother me. After re-crossing all of the brooks we began the most tedious section of the hike. The last (first) mile is on rolling terrain with tons of pointless up and down, on the way in it isn't a problem, but on the way out it gets old fast. Eventually we heard the sound of cars on the road and we were soon back at the car.
We had intended to use our new Karhu Meta's (hiking boot compatible xc mini skis); however we decided to focus on the hike rather than deal with new toys. Since we were all feeling good we decided to stop at a park by Indian Lake and take them out for a spin. We all found them to be a lot of fun and definitely faster than snowshoes (they'll be awesome for getting to Marcy Dam, the lake road, the Johns Brook Valley, etc...).
Another great day in the dacks, especially with the weather cooperating. I definitely recommend Snowy to anyone looking for a decent challenge (the steep part at least, the approach is a little lame) without having to drive all the way up to the high peaks.
The Good and The Bad
Succeeding where we had once failed
More blisters, I hate boots!