In an attempt to learn from our previous winter ADK trips, we booked two weekends on our calendar in January to try to do the trip in acceptable weather. As things worked out, the weather was acceptable for the first weekend.
Acceptable by winter ADK standards involved 40-50 MPH winds at the summit of Whiteface mountain, thus wind chills in the single digit F’s. We had an overnight low of probably near 20F the first night and in the teens the second night.
We left the DC area just after rush hour on Thursday. It still took the entire day to drive up to the trailhead, but luckily we only hit one minor traffic slowdown near Albany, so we clocked close to the google estimated time in the car. Resturant wise, we ate at Sri Dosa place in NJ for lunch on the way up. The Noonmark diner was visited for both dinner on Thursday and for breakfast on Saturday. We stayed Saturday night with some friends from Capital Hiking club, who also joined us for the hike on Saturday. They were very gracious hosts with their parents even making us breakfast at 5:45 am on Sunday morning before we hit the road.
Sleepwise, this trip packed in a lot of activity. We wound up getting to our campsite at 11:45pm or so on Thursday night and got up at 6 the following morning. Due to the hike out and breakfast at the Noonmark diner, we got up before 3:30am on Saturday morning.
Climbing Whiteface from Whiteface Landing was a full day. We left camp at 8:30am and arrived back at sunset at 4:45. The climb is roughly described as flat for the first ⅓, moderate for the next ⅓, then steep for the final ⅓. Steve’s GPS put it at 4 miles from Whiteface Landing instead of the 3 reported by the sign-age. The AMC map puts it at 3.5 mi. The final 200 vertical feet consist of some scrambling in the Alpine zone. We hit a fair amount of loosely adhered thin ice on the rocks, so switched to crampons for the final rock portion. The winds were fairly high, so half of the folks had mounted their snow goggles. There was rim ice on some of the signs and rocks too. While others had been back to Whiteface Landing, we broke trail through shallow snow for the remainder of the climb.
For the hike on Saturday, we decided at breakfast to aim for the trail up to Rocky Ridge Peak from NY-9. It was too far away for us to summit via the NY-9 trail, but it was a pretty trail with a number of nice views, so great for an out and back. After climbing it, I can see why both Michael and Kylie recommended it as a pretty trail. We got to the summit of Bald Peak and had a brief lunch, then went back to the cars. Bryan A continued on for a bit further before turning back at the turn around time.
Overall, it was another nice long weekend adventure in the ADK in winter.
-Andrew L (Camel)