Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

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CP_Climber_2014

 
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Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:25 am

Hi;
I am planning a winter hike from Heart Lake to Mount Marcy and return. I think I can do this in one day if I leave camp early (7:00AM-ish). I will be carrying a good headlamp, extra clothing, food, maybe a sleeping bag in case I don't get back to camp and need to sleep in one of the lean-tos closer to the mountain.
It looks like the shortest route is via Marcy Dam and ascent on Marcy from Little Marcy side. Looks to be approx 5mi each direction. From the topo map I have, the trail looks pretty easy until I get to Marcy.
I have some experience with winter hiking; climbed (hiked) Algonquin in winter, and had no trouble - using crampons.
So, do you think this is a do-able day hike around late December or January?

Thanks

CP

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by nartreb » Wed Dec 04, 2013 7:53 pm

That's the standard route for Mt Marcy in winter. It's a long day (over 6 miles each way) but perfectly feasible.

It's a tricky trade-off between keeping your bag light to maximise chances of success, and being prepared for the unexpected, especially when hiking solo. My rule of thumb is always be prepared to survive overnight with a broken leg. In addition to a good sleeping bag, I'd carry a big enough tarp to bivvy in, a spare headlamp (days are very short!), reliable means for making fire, a small stove, and maybe a backpacker's mattress.

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:56 am

Thanks for your advice guys;
I don't own a tarp, but I can buy one pretty cheap. I do most of my hiking solo, but never gave all that much thought to surviving after an injury. I guess that's kind of stupid. It doesn't take much to cause a fall, which can result in serious injury.
My sleeping bag weighs 4lbs, but it's good to 0F.
Wait my turn for the summit - in winter? I did read that 20,000 people reach the summit of Marcy each year, but I had assumed that in winter, there wouldn't be many. I think that having to wait in line to summit would turn me off.
Last time I was up in the area, someone suggested I try Algonquin instead of Marcy. I did that, and had a great hike. No one on the trails - but I think it was a weekday. I guess the mentality is to go for the highest, forget #2.
I have said many times that if K2 were the highest and not #2, and had the number of climbers that Everest gets, only a handful of people would make it up and down alive - K2 being so much more difficult than the south face of Everest.

Perhaps I should sleep at Marcy Dam instead of at Heart Lake. That way I start about 2mi closer to Marcy.

CP

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anita

 
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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by anita » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:10 pm

yer gonna die up there

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John Duffield

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by John Duffield » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:27 pm

You will be required to have skis or snowshoes.

Here is my TR.

http://www.summitpost.org/mount-marcy-n ... ing/706153

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:37 pm

John Duffield wrote:You will be required to have skis or snowshoes.

Here is my TR.

http://www.summitpost.org/mount-marcy-n ... ing/706153

As I recall, when I hiked the Algonquin route, I was using crampons, not snowshoes, as the trails were more packed snow than deep stuff. When I came to the steepest part of the trail, where there was a lot of ice, I don't think snowshoes would have gotten me up there as well as the crampons did.
If I am required to wear snowshoes, I would most likely still carry the crampons. The snowshoes I own are rather large (31" x 9"), and get very clumsy on narrow trails. I may need to purchase a new pair - something narrower. I don't think skis would do any good on the trails to Marcy, except on the lower terrain where it is relatively flat. i have strapped the snowshoes to my pack and donned the crampons on occasion, when the conditions changed significantly to make it worthwhile to make the change.

Regardless, when I do make the trip, I will have both snowshoes and crampons, as well as an ice axe in my car. When I leave the trailhead, I will have to make the decision on which equipment I need. I will check in at the visitor center before i set out, and I believe there is a ranger station at Marcy Dam.

CP

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 2:56 pm

John Duffield wrote:You will be required to have skis or snowshoes.

Here is my TR.

http://www.summitpost.org/mount-marcy-n ... ing/706153

My snowshoes do have crampons, but I am concerned that they are too large (31" x 9") for some of the trails.

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:06 pm

Checking out some of the snowshoes online, I find that they run from 22" x 8.2" up to the 31" x 9" I already own. For a shoe that is only 0.8" narrower, I don't think I'm going to buy a new pair. I guess the larger ones will work, but may be a little tricky getting through any narrower cuts, and for any
climbing" I may need to do, I will switch to the crampons.

Before I even start to plan for this trip, I need to check out my left foot. It has PF (plantar fasciitis) and may not allow me to put on my winter boots, let alone hike 12 miles. But if I do this on a colder day, the PF won't bother me as much. I have noticed that when I run (running long distances is the reason I have the PF <g>).

CP

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by LesterLong » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:03 pm

I don't know anything about snow shoes, but I climbed Marcy about 3 weeks ago, and I'd say that microspikes are out of the question. Poles are mandatory now, too.

Good luck! I really enjoyed climbing it.

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:26 pm

LesterLong wrote:I don't know anything about snow shoes, but I climbed Marcy about 3 weeks ago, and I'd say that microspikes are out of the question. Poles are mandatory now, too.

Good luck! I really enjoyed climbing it.

Microspikes? What are they? Sounds like something very insubstantial that might be an instep crampon or similar?
I've got the snowshoes, which have substantial crampons, plus a pair of Grivel 12 point crampons.
Now I just need to buy a second hiking pole. I've got one Leki pole, but I would feel more secure using two - which as you say is what is required.

CP

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by LesterLong » Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:55 am

CP_Climber_2014 wrote:
LesterLong wrote:I don't know anything about snow shoes, but I climbed Marcy about 3 weeks ago, and I'd say that microspikes are out of the question. Poles are mandatory now, too.

Good luck! I really enjoyed climbing it.

Microspikes? What are they? Sounds like something very insubstantial that might be an instep crampon or similar?
I've got the snowshoes, which have substantial crampons, plus a pair of Grivel 12 point crampons.
Now I just need to buy a second hiking pole. I've got one Leki pole, but I would feel more secure using two - which as you say is what is required.

CP


Here's a picture of them: http://kahtoola.com/product/microspikes/

I've only used them once (for Mt. Marcy 3 weeks ago), and I must say they changed the climb for me. They're definitely not crampons in terms of 'bite' but they are far, far better than nothing on snow or ice. They're fine on rock too, at least from what's i've seen. I was able to do Marcy and Table Top in one (long) day, based mostly on the poles and the microspikes.

Again, though, from my experience 3 weeks ago, and my belief they got lots more snow since, i'm guessing that microspikes would be insufficient right now.

Hope this helps!

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by nartreb » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:45 am

Microspikes (or the very similar Hillsound FreeSteps) are great - perfect for packed Northeastern trails. (It's not the total snowfall that matters, it's how many people have packed the trail ahead of you.) Also carry snowshoes (required in New York, and you'll need them in fresh snow or if you go off-trail for any reason), and I usually carry real crampons too in case I encounter serious ice that my snowshoes can't handle (not super likely on Marcy, but you never know).

The 'spikes weigh next to nothing, are very quick to put on and take off, and take very little space in/on your pack - there's really no downside if you've got forty or fifty bucks to spare. I find it much more comfortable to walk in 'spikes than in snowshoes (except in deep powder, obviously), and they're a lifesaver in the spring when you have rocks alternating with ice.

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by Bark Eater » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:40 pm

One of the biggest hazards on this route is a quick thaw. New member RDJim got turned around half way up last winter. The Indian Falls Brook crossing was impassable. Recommend going when everything is frozen up and nice and cold.

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anita

 
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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by anita » Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:56 pm

he should have set up a tyrolean
or hitch a ride on one of the gnomes that live up in the krummholz

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Re: Mount Marcy route from Heart Lake

by CP_Climber_2014 » Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:57 am

Bark Eater wrote:One of the biggest hazards on this route is a quick thaw. New member RDJim got turned around half way up last winter. The Indian Falls Brook crossing was impassable. Recommend going when everything is frozen up and nice and cold.

There's no bridge to cross the water?
Would there be a similar problem if I took the trail towards Avalanche Pass from Marcy Dam (staying to the right as I approach the dam from Heart Lake, and then take a left just before Avalanche Pass. Looks like the same distance that way, and maybe less trouble?

CP

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