Sunday, February 9, 2014

ADK 46: Mount Colden

January was a cold cold month.  While it was cold in Albany it was always colder up north, which kept me off the mountains.  I have pretty good gear, but I was in no mood to test it up against -25 degree base temperatures, lord only knows what it would have been on the summits. So I sat at home thinking about hiking, planning my hikes, and updating the tab on my blog of my completed peaks. (here.)

The cold streak finally broke so I began making plans to head up to get Mount Colden which is New York States 11th Highest peak at 4,715ft. Initially I had planned to go alone.  It had been 2 month since I've climbed a peak and nearly 11 months since my last winter climb.  I wanted a chance to get my legs beneath me before climbing with other people.  I very much enjoy climbing alone, but I also like to go with my uncle, so I called him and asked if he was interested.  He wasn't able to make it but put me in contact with his friend Doug. 

Doug and I headed up north and arrived at the High Peaks Information Center 8:15 and on the trail by roughly 8:30.  The trail follows to Marcy Dam (which is the same trail I've been on for both Phelps and Tabletop).

cutting across the dam

see that mountain in the clouds far away? yep that is where I was headed.

Shortly after the dam, is where the trail separates and we began heading towards the Avalanche camps. Up until this point the trail was mostly "flat walking"  since snow covered all of the mud, rocks, roots, and other hazards, it was a pretty simple straightforward walk.  

We met up with a Ranger (who naturally caught us with Doug's dog being leashed but not under control) who told us that it would be cold & windy up top.  He initially also made it sound like we might have to break trail.  That had me a bit nervous, but he corrected himself and said that the trail is packed, but there was a good amount of drift and snow from the snow storm earlier in the week.

With that we started the more aggressive part of our hike, heading to Lake Arnold. It still wasn't super, crawl on your hands and knees steep, but was a steady incline.  We lost our great pace of 2 miles an hour as continued to make our way up.

After a brief snack at Lake Arnold, we started making our way for the final 1.5 mile to the summit.  While Doug had written out the trail marker to follow well, neither one of us really read about the trail characteristics, we were a but surprised (and more than a few choice words muttered) when we reached a false summit.
view from false summit

Facing the actual summit of  Colden. 
I was convinced that Doug was wrong and that the other mountain was something different entirely, but too close to be considered a 46 peak based on the rules. 

But Doug climbs a lot more often that I do, and has done Colden multiple times (he has a dog named after the mountain!) so I had to swallow my pride and continue on.  Despite how far it looks, it took us roughly 20 minutes to get to the real summit.  We ran into our first group of people, who said it was very windy.  We paused for a moment, pulled out some additional layers before making our approach.

Now, I'm not saying it wasn't windy, but a windmill would have been wildly disappointed up there,  it was cold wind (the temp without the wind factored in was hovering around 4 degrees)  but I've experienced worse.  Regardless we took a few pictures looked around, played my favorite game of guess the mountains and began our descent.
the weather said partly sunny.  it was definitely bright.

Algonquin behind me (i think)
Since the trail was not super hard packed from this week's snow, we took the opportunity to slide/"ski"back down the trail.  It took us 4 hours to get up and 2.5 to get down. There were only two times that I felt the need to sit on my butt and slide, so it was definitely a great trail to do in the winter.  No major bolder scrambling nor did I feel like I was going to plunge to my death.  It doesn't hurt that I have some new top notch mountaineering snow shoes to replace my flatland ones.

Once we were back near the avalanche camps, it was smooth sailing, we stopped to have lunch at a lean to. and after a well deserved break, we finished the last 3 miles back to the car.

I couldn't have asked for better weather or a nicer day.  I'm still undecided if I'll ever go for my winter 46, but this put me one closer towards that goal if I do.  
Total Peaks completed: 31
Winter Peaks: 6

Trail:  Via Lake Arnold
Distance: 13-ish
Ascent: 2850'
Time 7.5 including breaks & lunch
Gear worn:  Tubbs Mountaineer Snowshoes , Tubbs Poles
Temperature:  Temp varied from 0-14 degrees based on Dougs Thermometer, unsure about the windchill.
Clothing worn:  fleece lined running tights, nylon hiking pants, long sleeve shirt, t shirt, ski coat, hat & mittens.


  1. Wow, that's awesome! Good for you! Your pics are gorgeous, and I'm sure they don't at all compare to the real thing.

  2. Awesome pics! Looks like you had a perfect day! I miss upstate.

    1. Thanks! The iphone takes awesome pictures outdoors. It was a great day, I hope the weather cooperates for a repeat next week.