Algonquin & Wright peaks, MacIntyre Mountains, Adirondack Park, New York, USA
Trail from the Adirondack Loj: 15.5 kilometers round-trip, strenuous hike
Elevation: 1559 & 1398 meters
Elevation gain: around 1050 meters total
Moving time: 5 hours
Date: January 17, 2015
Algonquin peak is the second highest peak in New York State, the highest being Marcy at 1629 meters. Algonquin, Wright and Phelps are all 3 part of the Adirondack 46er peaks list. Even during winter, the trails are very well marked and easy to follow. The Adirondack park offers dozens and dozens of mountains to climb, at various difficulty levels.
The preparation to climb these mountains is no different than any other winter climb: fitness, proper clothing and gear, being aware of weather and trail conditions. The Mountain Weather Forecast website remains my favorite source of last minute information. The Adirondack Mountain Club website also provides a thorough report on the trail conditions. As always, if you are not sure you should continue, it is probably time to turn around.
We hit the trail at 10 on the first morning. It was still very cold. Fortunately, the trees sheltered us from the wind. The trail was very well marked. Toward the beginning, there was a huge waterfall, completely frozen. Of course, we had to go play on it! We debated a while if we should change to crampons and grab the axes to climb it but decided otherwise, to maximize the chances of completing our goal and coming back in the sunlight.
The first few kilometers are standard forest trail. After 3 or 3.5 km, the trail became icy and fairly steep so we change our snowshoes for crampons - I strongly recommend bringing both for this hike.
When we reached the tree line, we stopped to put on extra (windproof) layers. The wind was brutal - at least 50 to 60 kph. The last part was mostly on rocks with large masses of ice. With the crampons, it was very easy to keep going as they would grab solidly into the ice. The view at the summit was of course majestic - the visibility was very good.
Our first idea was to continue to Iroquois. However, we soon realized that we had no idea which mountain it was, and we were late on our schedule. We turned around and headed for Wright instead. I will come back for Iroquois another day.
It didn't take too long to reached the crossing to Wright... despite the playfulness of my climbing partners in the very steep slopes.
- Wooooo I want to slide down
- Me too me too!
- I’ll do it again, someone film me
- Good idea I’ll go next
We left our backpack by the sign and headed quickly to the next peak. The mountain was mostly bare rock. The wind was much stronger than on Algonquin, to the point that it was very difficult to keep our balance. With a lot of patience and carefulness, we made it to the summit and I had to crawl the last few meters to reach it. The wind was so powerful that I couldn't even stand on my feet!
The climb down was pretty quick. We reached the frozen waterfall as the sun was setting, and decided that since we were wearing crampons we couldn’t not climb it - even if it means finishing the trail in the dark! Each our turn, we grabbed an axe and climbed our way to the top - all 8 to 10 meters of it!
Phelps mountain, Adirondack Mountains, Adirondack Park, New York, USA
Trail from the Adirondack Loj: 14.5 kilometers round-trip, moderate hike
Elevation: 1268 meters
Elevation gain: 661 meters
Moving time: 4.5 hours
Date: January 18, 2015
The trail to Phelps was also very well marked. The first 4.5 kilometers are mostly flat, and then there is a steep 3 kilometers to the summit. Once again, the wind above the tree top was strong. Carrying extra layers and windproof jacket for the last part is necessary to enjoy the summit long enough to snap a few pictures.
For more photos, go to my gallery.