North Country explorer from
Photos - Video - Text at: http://forums.adkhighpeaks.com/showthread.php?t=27695
The cold winter of 2015 seemed to last forever. Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps the weather in combination with the pressures of life. In any case, our plans came to life as the sub-zero spell finally broke. Our thoughts centered on putting up (creating) a new ice climbing route in Panther Gorge. I watched the weather as March 14th approached. The forecast called for temperatures in the 30’s Fahrenheit at our target elevation with a possibility of rain. Waiting for a different weather window was pushing the limits of ice season in the gorge, however.
I nearly threw the alarm across the room when it beeped at 3:55 a.m. I love alpine starts, but also needed the sleep—c’est la vie. As usual I spent a restless night pondering the uncertainties of the venture—would the snowpack be at least mildly supportive, could we dial in our approach, would the annoying ache above my left knee subside, would the rain be a problem, would the ice be safe...? We’d prepared as much as we could. The rest was in the hands of God and the weather.
I met Anthony and Adam at the Loj where we divided the climbing gear to distribute weight; our packs were each around 45 pounds between two ropes, protection and the normal winter necessities. Given the trail conditions we chose to carry microspikes, snowshoes and crampons; another three traction device day to add additional weight.
We began walking at 5:00 a.m. on rock hard trails. Fast forward to the bushwhack at 8:30 a.m. We left the Van Hoevenberg Trail high on Mt. Marcy after hiking almost 7 miles. If all went well, we’d thread our way through the cliffs and into the gorge. I can’t stress how dangerous this CAN be if you aren’t intimately familiar with the details of the gorge. It’s not the place to embark on a blind bushwhack—the last thing one wants is to descend 700 feet (especially in unbroken snow) only to find the top of a 400 foot cliff.
I took the first step ....