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Maclntyre Mountains in February
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By Burd
From Selinsgrove, PA
Nov 28, 2012

Hey guys looking for some local intel on a trail. I am going to the Loj for week to do some climbing. Go to the Whites every winter but first time in ADK. Half of the group are not climbers and want to do a big hike one day. We have a tough group of hikers with plenty of winter experience. We are looking at going from the Loj, up the valley to Lake Colden, then take the trail up to Boundary Peak, hitting Algonquin and Wright on the way back. I assume by its location to the Loj that the trail from Algonquin down to the Loj should be pretty hammered down, but I am wondering how well traveled the trail up from Lake Colden is in February. Thanks for the help.


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By Mike V.
Nov 28, 2012

The Macs are a ridge of 4 peaks. Wright, Algonquin, Iroquois and Marshall. The trail up from Lake Colden is between Algonquin and Iroquois (and Boundary is between Iroquois and the trail). There is no maintained path between the junction and Iroquois.

In the eastern high peaks snowshoes are required when there is more than 8" of snow on the ground. The trail up from the lake sees some traffic, but is by no means a popular route to the peaks.


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By AThomas
Nov 29, 2012

www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=14671

Seems a bit ambitious for one day -- depending especially on the amount of fresh snow at the time.

Are your priorities the lake or certain peaks? Maybe consider heading straight toward Algonquin first. Depending on how fast you're moving, you can do Wright or skip it in the name of time.

Hit Algonquin, then you have several choices: a) turn back if it's been a really slow day (maybe go to Wright if you skipped it), b) go on to Boundary, with the option of Iroquois, c) head to Lake Colden. As I understand it, at any point before Lake Colden you could have the option of turning back the way you came, though you'd have to go back up Algonquin first.

(Edit: Post #13 at the link above suggests the same kind of thing and estimates some times.)

I say bring your camping gear and do them all.


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By AThomas
Nov 29, 2012

P.S. Wouldn't it be a shame to go near Colden and skip the Trap Dike? :-P


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Nov 29, 2012

Adam Thomas wrote:
P.S. Wouldn't it be a shame to go near Colden and skip the Trap Dike? :-P



He said they are hikers, not climbers.

Burd - that is a long loop. You need to be more than tough to bang that out in a day - you need to be fast. If running in snowshoes and hiking after dark aren't your bag, maybe skip Iroquois/Boundary. Just getting Algonquin in February is a pretty solid day if things are deep. If the trails are very well-packed and you can use trail runners and microspikes and leave the snowshoes on the packs, go ahead and try for the whole thing. Just be ready to skip Wright on the way out if you're running behind.

I like the direction you chose. It's longer and harder, but makes a much better hike. The trail up from Lake Colden is steep and relentless, but the views of Avalanche Pass are worth the detour.

Also, remember - this loop has a ton of time above treeline. You don't need an ice axe, but if you're not all familiar with crampon use and dealing with mountain weather, avoid this unless the weather is perfect. The Daks in the winter are not like hiking in PA in winter.


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By AThomas
Nov 29, 2012

Oh, right on. Sorry, ice on the brain.

I'd like to say the direction of the loop wouldn't change the view -- but I hadn't thought about daylight and there's something to be said for not giving oneself as many early outs.

He/she did say they go to the Whites.


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By Auto-X Fil
From NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
Nov 29, 2012

Adam Thomas wrote:
He/she did say they go to the Whites.


Ah, good note. Yeah, nothing different/harder than the Whites here. It's just better. ;-)


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 29, 2012
Rumney

Couple notes, first if you don't mind the spoiler I made a video of my last Algonquin --> Iroquios hike with a few close friends this past winter. IMO the hiking above treeline on the ridge is the best in the high peaks. Haystack is also a great rocky walk, as well as the south (often icy) side of Marcy.

www.adkhike.com/2012.htm#iroquois2



Conditions of course are subject to change year to year, week to week, but they were ideal when we were there early March.

Being slightly out of hiking shape, Chris and I decided to skip Wright and got out just before dark. This was just an out and back from the loj. We didn't expect or set out to break any speed records.

Adding the lake into the mix would ensure starting and/or ending in headlamps. Not a big deal of course, but worth mentioning in case this isn't desired. Breaking trail from the lake up to the col would take a long time, even with a small team. I'd do Algonquin first, definitely DON'T skip Iroquios, then check the condition of the trail heading down to the lake from the top and decide. Bonus heading down that way is having awesome views in front of you the entire way (versus going up and slogging with your back turned to them). This trail is broken out regularly during the winter but it doesn't take much snow or wind to refill trails (as I'm sure you're aware hiking in the Whites). Check views from the top (vftt) and adk high peaks.com for trip reports, people will usually post when they've broken that trail out. If it's been more than 3 or 4 days and there's been any significant wind/snow since, I would expect the trail to be filled back in enough to calculate that into the hike.


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By Burd
From Selinsgrove, PA
Nov 29, 2012

Thanks for this good information guys. Esp about how long this will take to do the whole loop. The info on the Boundary Trail is exactly what I was looking for. I was afraid it might be a slug-fest to the top on that trail. While I have my tour-guides, is Pitchoff Mtn fairley easy access for climbing on the 2nd day? Someone mentioned Trap Dike. I don't see it on the map. Is that near Lake Colden?


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By Gunkiemike
Nov 29, 2012

Pitchoff is a MUCH easier day. The Trap Dike is an off-trail, semi-technical ascent of Mt Colden from Avalanche Lake. It is prone to avalanches and fatal tumbles. Some ice climbing experience is highly recommended.


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By kenr
Nov 29, 2012

Kevin Heckeler wrote:
Algonquin --> Iroquios hike ... the hiking above treeline on the ridge is the best in the high peaks.


I love being on ridges. Here in the Northeast, winter sounds better. So you're saying the ridge between Algonquin and Iroquois is one I should try?
I've climbed Algonquin before in winter: adding a ridge traverse makes it sound way better.

Ken


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By AThomas
Nov 29, 2012

Gunkiemike wrote:
Pitchoff is a MUCH easier day. The Trap Dike is an off-trail, semi-technical ascent of Mt Colden from Avalanche Lake. It is prone to avalanches and fatal tumbles. Some ice climbing experience is highly recommended.

Would be a shame to go to Pitchoff and not ice climb . . . Ha, sorry.


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Nov 30, 2012
Rumney

kenr wrote:
I love being on ridges. Here in the Northeast, winter sounds better. So you're saying the ridge between Algonquin and Iroquois is one I should try? I've climbed Algonquin before in winter: adding a ridge traverse makes it sound way better. Ken


I enjoy the views from Iroquios more, plus being above tree line for over an hour in the dead of winter with that expanse of wilderness around you is something special.


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By Jeremy W
From Clinton, NY
Dec 3, 2012

kenr wrote:
I love being on ridges. Here in the Northeast, winter sounds better. So you're saying the ridge between Algonquin and Iroquois is one I should try? I've climbed Algonquin before in winter: adding a ridge traverse makes it sound way better. Ken



It's all one ridge: Wright>Algonquin>Boundary>Iroquois

The trail down to Lake Colden is at Boundary. If you're going to be up on Algonquin you might as well just head down the other side and hit up Iroquois too.


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By Nathan Stokes
Dec 3, 2012

With a broken trail to at least the tree line on Algonquin the out and back variant of the Mac's is a reasonable day hike with an alpine start (start in the dark, finish by headlamp). Its 11 miles with 5500 feet of gain. Coming off Algonquin on the Wright side you can do a seated glissade and take advantage of gravity (15 minute slide from tree line to the trail junction sign last I did it). If you are breaking trail it is an entirely different matter. The Boundary col to Lake Colden trail is no picnic, in the summer going down is no faster than going up. The other benefit of going down to Lake Colden, rather than up is that if the trail isn't recently broken you won't be affected as much if you like to do seated glissades. If you went down to Lake Colden from the col you would get the benefit of being able to walk across the lakes (normally they are good and frozen in Feb) which makes the Avalanche Lake section much better than the summer trail.


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By Burd
From Selinsgrove, PA
Dec 4, 2012

Thanks for the help. Yes ridge walking in winter above tree-line is the best. Have done many winter Pres. & Franconia traverses. Can't wait to see the Daks. Was in the Whites last March, the same time the video was shot and there is way more snow than we had in Crawford Notch. 3 of our group are climbers WI3-4 so we will hike the ridge day 1, head to Pitchoff day 2 to climb and head up the valley to check out Trap Dike day 3. Any good less traveled spots on Pitchoff? Will the Mountaineer have current info on the avy risk up on the dike when the time comes?


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Dec 5, 2012
Rumney

The Mountaineer will have Trap Dike info galore, so definitely stop by and ask. Drew (Haas) will have avy info if he's here, he's one of the local backcountry skiing gurus for the area. :) They're very knowledgeable and experienced, so if they say there's a risk BELIEVE THEM.

I have yet to wander in, but Pitchoff North is supposed to be the best spot on pitchoff. The stuff closer to the road is crowded and/or used by guides a lot. But it's easy to see most of the routes from the road.


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Dec 5, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

Pitchoff North Face is awesome. Plenty of lines! Nice multi-pitch lower angle climbing go for Weeping Winds. Steep wi4 climbing: Central Pillar. Then Arm and Hammer/ Tendonitis are right next to them. It can get crowded as hell in there on a busy weekend day, but you can usually find an open route.

The last pitch of weeping winds is awesome


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By Ben Brotelho
From Albany, NY
Dec 5, 2012
Epic free solo with a pack on

Another great venue is Chapel Pond Canyon, even more routes than NF of Pitchoff, Haggis and Cold Toast is a must-do!!


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By Kevin Heckeler
From Upstate New York
Dec 5, 2012
Rumney

Ben Brotelho wrote:
Another great venue is Chapel Pond Canyon, even more routes than NF of Pitchoff, Haggis and Cold Toast is a must-do!!


Second that. Probably why I haven't done PNF... I've been visiting the canyon instead.


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By AThomas
Dec 5, 2012

Awesome. Sounds like a good trip. Will be doing something similar in Feb.


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