Azure Mountain (Snowboard descent)
Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
Hiking this mountain in winter was one of the goals I set for winter 07/08. After hearing about the epic snow the mountain gets and the ski trail from the summit I decided I wanted to splitboard the mountain (skin up, snowboard descent). Nate's uncle was nice enough to let us stay at his house in Potsdam the night before so we were able to sleep in Saturday morning. The Adirondacks had gotten a ton of snow in the preceding days so we knew we were going to have good conditions.|
When we got to the parking lot there was one group in ahead of us. We started hiking (mostly flat) until we came to the picnic table, from here the climb began. The ski tracks ahead of us sometimes followed the trail (which switchbacks) and sometimes followed the old telephone line (straight up hill). I was being stubborn and was refusing to remove my skis even though it was infinitely more difficult than hiking (I had my snowshoes, I was just being a jerk). After a few really steep sections I realized the ski track we were following wasn't too keen on following the trail, but rather going straight up hill. It was at this point I decided to bushwhack to the summit (the forest is very open and I would be able to do my own switchbacks).
I broke from the trail and headed to the climbers right, in less than a hundred yards I found the ski tracks that had been used for the other skiers descent. I was amazed at how open the woods were in this area. From there I followed the skiers descent tracks to the summit (switchbacking my way there). At the summit I met up with Nate and Nicole again and I climbed the tower. Unfortunately it was pretty much socked in so we didn't get to enjoy the views azure is known for. My calves were incredibly cramped (snowboarding boots suck for hiking) so I loosened them up for a little while and took a break while Nicole changed into her snowboard boots.
We hiked down the ski trail a little bit (it's too flat for snowboarding at the very top) and then put our boards on and began our descent. The snow conditions were awesome! At one point I got off the ski trail and into some brush and had to take my board off, I was up to my thigh in snow (this moment solidified my decision to learn to telemark). Nicole and I were enjoying our ski descent when we met two snowboarders climbing the ski track, we chatted with them briefly and then continued the fun.
At the bottom of the steep section we were surprised to find Nate waiting and taking pictures, he had followed the trail used by the other skiers to meet us. After the last steep section I bombed the trail and would have been able to make it all the way back to the car had I not dropped my pole (I was pushing off in the flat sections to keep my speed up).
It was a great day in the mountains and I'm definitely planning on heading back there again to enjoy the conditions. Although, if I'm not telemarking by then, I'll probably wear light boots and carry my snowboard.
The Good and The Bad
Destroying my calves trying to hike in snowboard boots