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Archive for the ‘Long Days’ Category

The Trifecta

Pinnacle, Shoestring and The Throat in a day

By Alan Cattabriga

The Details:

1. Pinnacle: Leave Car 6am,  Back down 9:15am.  (3hrs. 15min.)

2. Shoestring: Leave car 10:20am,  Back down 12:10 (1hr.50min.)

3. The Throat: Leave car 1pm, Back down 5:50pm. (5hrs.50min.)

Total Time: 10 hrs. 55 min.

Total Distance: 16.07 Miles

Total Elevation Gain: 7613 ft

The Story….The Adirondack climbers had the cool name, “The Trilogy”, damn it!! I grew up reading Tolkien,  my other main staple in my youth was Castaneda,  a load of killer titles, but the “collection” of books had no name. Good thing they did not, for I don’t think I could ever climb as many alpine routes in a day as Carlos has books. But “Trifecta”, now there is a sweet sounding word. A word that can be applied to a few different activities…..Of testing the legs and getting some times;In Jan ’08, Ted Hammond & I did a Shoestring/Lincoln’s Throat combo. It took us like 11hrs; Shoestring went like clock work but the approach to the Throat was hideous, with deep snow and the stream open here & there. In one of the “here” portions I took a little dip. We also lost some time for we wanted to do a unknown left finish to the Franconia Ridge that leaves the main drainage before the Throat, but we took our turn too soon (my fault) and after a long, cool gully, it dead ended at a spruce wall that resembled the Spartan spears in the movie 300. We descended the gully (I was really pissed at my faux pas) and motored up to the Mullet (right slab) line to Lincoln’s summit and enjoyed an awesome sunset. Our mistake took time but gave us a huge sunset gift.
This past Dec. I dabbled again, this time with Damnation, descending Lion’s Head then Shoestring combo. I kept my pace at a slow boil in the ravine, but being alone I went hard on Shoestring and took 20mins. of my fastest time there. (6.5 hrs. total time.)The ice season comes full circle every year, we start & end in the alpine zone, time to stop thinking and start doing. The second wk. of March had started, conditions in the zone were looking good. The next few days were going to be sunny and nights cold. My day was going to be Friday the 13th. Worry? Why should I? I’m not superstitious, though the last time I took this date off, I augured into the ground off of Omega’s first pitch and got totally owned.Of the Trifecta: Pinnacle Gully, Shoestring Gully & Lincoln’s Throat;I’m up early Fri. morning and leave the house at 3:45am. I’ve gone over the times I want to do each section and the best way to do this. For the ravine portion, the fastest way would be Pinnacle then down South. I leave the car in Pinkham at 6am. The moon was just starting to wan and low, but lit the trail nicely.
I get to the ravine just as the sun is lighting up the headwall, it’s cold, single digits and a bit windy but bluebird. I hear the sound of a snowmobile coming and talk with avy ranger, Justin, as I get ready. The snow in the Fan is glazed and rock hard, Pinnacle looks beautiful. The ice was hard and brittle, with thin cracks/lines running this way and that. Because of these cracks my tools were breaking off triangular chunks which made tool placements kind of a pain. After the first 200′ the rest of the climb is hard, ice covered snow. Total fun, single tool climbing. I’m down South Gully fast, remove the ‘poon’s and jog the trail down.I find the snow absolutely perfect on the approach to Shoestring. So hard, I put the crampons on as soon as I started going up in the woods. The gully was in great condition and the direct finish awesome. The Webster Cliff Trail was very hard snow and crampons would have been the ticket, but I wanted to jog down so I took them off. After the first steep sections, and a few borderline out of control glissades, the rest of the trail was nice. It was now 11:50 and I wanted to start the approach to the Throat by 1 to stay on time. Perfect..
Now I thought the driving parts would be great, time to refuel, crank some Dead, take the boots off, give the feet a break and it was…. but when I got out at Lincoln’s parking, my legs had stiffened up pretty bad. It took a fair amount of hiking to loosen them again. Even though the snow conditions had been great, I decided to bring the snowshoes, I did not want to get into the Lincoln’s approach drainage and have a posthole party.
The Old Bridle Path was good & packed, I put the shoes on for the steep bushwhack down to the Throat’s drainage. Once there I discovered a gift – two people had gone up earlier and broken the hard crust. I removed the shoes and followed their tracks. The going was good and eventually the snow hard enough to stay on top. The Throat was fat and I climbed it right of the usual ice hose, the snow above the ice was excellent. On Lincoln’s summit there was a light wind and I could see for miles. I’m stoked!! While digging the viewsAl I drink a Red Bull and eat the last of a cookie & Balance bar. It’s 4pm and time to go, the Franconia Ridge to Little Haystack was all ice and hard snow, very nice. The hike down the Falling Waters Trail was packed, hard snow so I keep the ‘poons on almost the whole way down. I got back to the car just shy of 12hrs. (10hrs of total hiking/climbing) after starting in Pinkham… A phone call home and the next stop is the nearest beer store.There are many link-ups one can do around here. Adding Adams Slide on Cannon to what I did would be very doable. For this linky I thought of the car as a base camp and I could keep my pack light, once above tree line I had on all I brought for cloths, a little food and 1 pint of Gatorade per section, except on the Throat, I had only about 8oz. left and the Bull.
Come to find out The “Trilogy” got sent about the same time as my day by Joe Szot & and a friend. Awesome! Then Emilie Drinkwater repeats it a few days later, solo. Yeah, totally awesome.. To be out there, a long day, alone takes some fortitude, but the feeling you get……Now I’m in no way am thinking that I’m the first person to do this link-up. I’ve never heard of it being done though, it was a test just for me.AlanMore Links ……..Lincoln’s Throat – Mt. Lincoln – eguide on NEicePinnacle Gully – eguide on NEiceThe Throat- Photo search on NEicePinnacle- Photo search on NEiceShoestring - Photo search on NEicePhotos & content by Alan Cattabriga, maps, links and web page by Doug Millen

The Trilogy, Adirondacks NY

The North Face of Gothics, Grand Central on Marcy and Colden’s Trap Dike in a day.

by Emilie Drinkwater


My decision to try the “Trilogy” was made on a Sunday afternoon, March 15th. Inspired by recent link-up activity in the Northeast (Alan Cattabriga’s Trifecta in NH and Joe Szot’s Adirondack Trilogy), I decided that conditions wouldn’t get any better for my own attempt at the Trilogy. This link-up starts on the North Face of Gothics and continues up and over Saddleback, Basin, and the shoulder of Little Haystack, dropping into Panther Gorge, ascending a line called Grand Central to the summit of Marcy, down Marcy, into Avalanche Lake, up Colden’s Trap Dike, down the backside and out.

I started this adventure at 4:30am on Monday morning (March 16th) with a two-mile uphill bike ride from Keene Valley to the Garden trailhead (having dropped my car at the Adirondack Loj the night before, I didn’t want to ask anyone to drive me anywhere at 4am). I started the actual Trilogy at 5:02am and was determined to ski as much as possible, as I had opted not to bring snowshoes and hate walking in crampons. The first mile and a half was slow going and I probably took my skis on and off fifteen times to cross large patches of bare ground or ice. Eventually the snow became more consistent and I was able to move quickly, reaching the base of the North Face at first light.

Choosing a line to the far right on the North Face allowed a straightforward ascent to the summit, which I reached at 8:30am. Little did I know, the difficult part of the day was only just beginning; having never been on this section of the Range Trail, I was under the impression that I would be following a ridgeline all the way to Little Haystack. Wrong! In fact, this section of trail descends and ascends each of those peaks and includes a section of steep, open rock that seemed to be in the range of 3rd or 4th class climbing (at least in ski boots and crampons). In addition to now feeling very sluggish in the legs, this down-climb had slowed the pace significantly.
I continued plodding toward Little Haystack, skiing sections on occasion, but mostly walking (skis on my back) on packed trail, all while snagging the skis on every overhead branch and limb, wasting energy climbing over and under downed trees. At last I started to get views of Marcy’s impressive south face and the remote Panther Gorge below. Having never been on this section of trail, let alone anywhere near Panther Gorge, I knew my only hope of getting in there would be following the tracks of Joe and his partner, four days prior. Sure enough, just past the Slant Rock/Marcy Trail intersection, I spotted a faint set of tracks heading into the Gorge. I nervously followed the tracks (these guys had wisely put snowshoes on for this section) down into the abyss of Panther Gorge. Almost immediately, I lost their trail and started desperately postholing. Panicked and exhausted by dropping into waist deep spruce holes (for more than 45 minutes at this point), I started to regret bringing skis instead of snowshoes. The skis caught on everything and what branches they didn’t break, they instead shook thousands of pine needles down my back. I knew turning around and postholing out would be more difficult than what I’d just come through, so I made the conscious decision to continue, hoping to make it to some feature that would take me up and out to the relatively open slopes of Marcy’s south face. Only minutes later, I regained Joe’s tracks (and the greatest sense of relief ever!), and followed them up a short, steep step into the Grand Central gully. The sunny, openness of this snow gully was fantastic, but my legs were now so tired that I was reduced to taking 50 steps followed by 30-second rests. I had also long since run out of water and had been forced to fill a water bottle from a dripping icicle; I did treat the water but probably not for long enough… hopefully I won’t have giardia next week!

I reached the summit of Mt. Marcy at about 3:30pm. Sadly, somewhere in my Panther Gorge struggle, my watch had set itself back an entire hour, leading me to believe it was 2:30pm at the summit. Suspicious of the sun’s location in the sky, I checked my cell phone and discovered the mistake. Feeling pressured for time, I put my skis on and immediately started my descent on the Marcy ski trail. It should be noted that Joe’s descent from the summit of Marcy took the Feldspar/Lake Tear trail down to Lake Colden, whereas my descent (because I chose to ski) took me down to Marcy Dam (a mere two miles from my car), in approximately 35 minutes. From here I headed back up into Avalanche Lake and, for the first time in the day, felt so happy to have skis, which were faster and allowed my legs some recovery time.

I reached the base of the Trap Dike at about 5:15pm and because of its western aspect, the sun beating down was warm and bright as if it were noon. I took a quick break here to eat some sugar-laden, caffeine-laced snacks, and I started back uphill again with a second wind. Tired of listening to my heart race, I pulled out the ipod to get through the last tedious section of the Trilogy, and was spurred along by such motivational classics as Eye of the Tiger and The Final Countdown. Despite this, my legs were so tired that I had been further reduced to 10 steps followed by 30-second rests.

I reached Mt. Colden’s summit at about 7:15pm, just as the sun was setting. Fear of missing the Lake Arnold trail off Colden’s summit in the dark, made me move quickly and I reached Lake Arnold before I needed my headlamp. From this point, I was able to ski the snowshoe trench out to Marcy Dam and from the Dam to the Loj, reaching the parking lot at 8:44pm.
15 hours, 42 minutes, my final time (unless I’ve done the math wrong, which wouldn’t be surprising). I went into this with low expectations, never trying to be faster than Joe, only hoping to finish at all. I like to remind myself that this Trilogy was never my vision only something that seemed like a good challenge. I believe that conditions couldn’t have been better and having a track to follow was indispensable. While I may not be at my fittest, an extensive endurance background did finally pay off. And, when Jan Wellford recovers from a broken pelvis, you can bet that my time will be crushed as well!

–Emilie Drinkwater, 3/19/09

Emilie is owner/guide; Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides in Keene Valley NY.

What we did on our “day off”

By Louis-Philippe Ménard

Hey Doug, thanks so much for posting a great photo of Omega last weekend (3/18/06). It convinced Max and I to take a day off of work to go do it. Although it was the coldest outing anyone of us has had during this season (they call it spring hey!!) we managed to enjoy the climb a lot. Back down though, it was still early so we decided to go on and take full opportunity of our ”day off”. The result is this:

Click on photos to enlarge

Omega, then walk down.

Hike back to the Black Dike. Climb it with our packs on.

Walk back to the car: It’s only 12h30! Let’s go to Willoughby!

Climbed the Promenade

Back to the car, still hungry for more… Let’s go to Pinnacle

Climbed the Gringalet, in the dark  and with very thin conditions.

That’s it!

Cheers!  - Louis-Philippe Ménard / Maxime Turgeon

“Omega was really awesome!!

The real crux of our enchainment was leaving the warmth of the car (3 times) to go to the next climb…!”

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