For those of you not familiar, the “46ers” are a group of hikers that have climbed all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks. I had purposely saved Mt. Marcy for my last High Peak. Since many people come to the Adirondacks only to climb Mt. Marcy (highest mountain in New York), I had an aversion to the mountain, and didn’t respect it. However, after climbing it’s neighboring peaks, I began to respect Mt. Marcy for the true monarch it is. The trails leading to the peak may not be difficult, but this mountain definitely dominates all the mountains on this range.
About six months ago, I found out that Storytime was saving Mt. Marcy for his last “Winter 46” (climbed all 46 peaks between Dec 21 and March 21), and we tentatively planned on summiting together. By the beginning of January, both Storytime and I had climbed the other 45 High Peaks. We set a date for our attempt of Mt. Marcy, and both invited friends that had helped us achieve our goal.
The wife and I left for Lake Placid at around 4:00 on Friday. The trip was relatively uneventful, except for the fact that I had left Storytime's contact info and directions to Peggy’s guesthouse back home. When we got to Lake Placid, we stopped at Mr. Mike’s for dinner, and I pulled out a phone book to look for Peggy’s address. As luck would have it, Peggy’s name was listed, but with no address. I knew the name of the street she lived on, and thought I remembered how to get there from the time I stayed at her guesthouse two years ago. My memory didn’t fail me.
We arrived to a full house. After making sure we were properly packed, we swapped a few hiking stories, and soon went to bed.
We awoke at 5:30, got dressed, ate some bagels, and were soon on our way to the Adirondak Loj. As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed Mark, who I had talked with on Views From the Top, but hadn’t met in person. He wasn’t planning on summiting Marcy, but gave me a bottle of champagne for celebration anyway.
After several minutes of waiting for all members of our group to arrive, I decided I couldn’t stand in the -10 degree weather any longer, and started up the trail. I caught up with some more members of our group at Marcy Dam, and we proceeded up the Phelps Trail. At the turnoff to Phelps Mountain, we donned our snowshoes. The trail started to get steeper, but by no means was it difficult.
I took a detour at Indian Falls, since I’ve heard it is one of the nicer spots in the Adirondacks. It did not disappoint. The sun was shining, there was no wind, and it appeared as if the mountains purposely cut out this perfect frame of the MacIntyre Range for our enjoyment.
The next section of trail continued up at an easy to moderate grade, and then got steeper as we ascended a ridge. An easy, flat section followed, and I got my first views of the summit ridge. A couple of minutes later, I began ascending a moderately steep slope to treeline. I could see the summit ahead of me, but the terrain was different than I was expecting. Mt. Marcy had always appeared as a nearly perfect cone from the other mountains I had ascended. What appeared before me, however, was a jumble of cones and vales. In addition, Mt. Haystack looked exceptionally rugged from my vantage point.
I could hear the wind blowing on the summit, so I put on my gloves and jacket. The summit ridge was very windy and icy, and I was glad my new MSR snowshoes were providing exceptional traction. I continued ascending a moderately steep grade until I reached bare rock, where I took off my snowshoes. A minute later, I was on the summit. I had just completed my “46”. Gnarly took a photo of me on the summit, and we found shelter from the wind on the leeward side of the mountain. While we waited for Storytime to summit, I put on my crampons for the descent. About 15 minutes later, Storytime summited, and we took more photos and had some champagne.
I used my ice axe instead of hiking poles for the descent, and I was glad I had changed into crampons. Once I reached treeline, I changed back into my snowshoes and took off my jacket. I had a problem with one of my poles, and took a few minutes to fix it.
The remainder of the descent was relatively uneventful. We once again made a side trip to Indian Falls. Gnarly and John decided to climb Tabletop, while the rest of us headed back down. Just below the intersection with the trail to Phelps Mountain, we took of our snowshoes due to the rocks and roots poking through the snow. We barebooted the remainder of the way to the trailhead.
Later that evening, Storytime and I celebrated our accomplishment with friends and family.