Ascent to Sawteeth-Steep section on 2011-01-11

Climber: Jesse Quonce

Date:Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Sawteeth - Steep section
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3527 ft / 1075 m
    Remaining Elevation:607 ft / 185 m (25% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

First car in the parking area. Started off on the lake road at 7:00am, with the thermometer in my Jeep reading -6 degrees F. I was overdressed at the beginning, causing me to stop several times to adjust clothing. I got to the trail register at 7:45 and spoke briefly with the guy at the sign in shack (gatekeeper?). Off on the Lake Road, which was sparsely covered with snow, and was worsened by several snowmobiles. The footing was poor in bare boots, but I had already stopped so many times for clothing that I decided to skip putting on traction aids. My hunting boots were not the right type of footwear, but my feet chill easily and I did not want that to happen on this trip. I passed the major trail junctions and quickly realized that I was "breaking trail," no one had been this far down the lake road since it snowed on Monday. With this in mind, I arrived at the boathouse, and took a break for pictures and a snack. I reached for the hose on my Camelbak, to find it frozen solid. I mistakenly traveled from Saranac Lake to Keene Valley with my backpack in the trunk of my Jeep! Then, I dug my food out of my Osprey pack, only to find my Clif and Powerbars frozen as well. I tucked the snacks into the chest pocket on my fleece, and stuff the hose on my hydration pack into my underlayers, hoping to free up the ice. I headed for the Scenic trail, only to find that whoever passed in the area before me, decided to turn back not far after the trail began! I mustered on, hoping to be able to keep up with the trail. After nearly 3/4 of a mile, I simply lost track of the trail. I backtracked several hundred yards, with no clear path in the woods to be found. Dejected, I turned back to the trail junction, and paused to put on traction aid and to try for the water. I got about 2 sips and then nothing but air. One of the Clif bars was edible, so I ate it up as quickly as I could, and headed for the Gothics trail. The guidebook described it as steep, which it was, but well broken out. After several tiring hours slowly marching upward, I ran completely out of energy. I tried for more food, to find that a small bit of beef jerky had thawed. I ate what I could, and sat to consider my options. I knew that no one was in the area, and with my later then expected start, I would be likely be returning in the last hours of daylight at best. With no food or water, I felt like I made my own bed, and it was time to sleep in it. After much consideration, I took off my traction aids and slid back down the trail. What took me over 3 hours to ascend, took a mere 47 minutes to descend. I returned to my Jeep having learned a great deal about what to do when winter hiking in the 'dacks: put on snowshoes (even if you don't think you need them!), start with warmer water and/or different storage ideas, keep food close by (small hip pack), and study the map more closely when preparing to hike!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1859 ft / 566 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.8 mi / 14.2 km
    Route:Weld Trail
    Trailhead:Ausable Club  1668 ft / 508 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Frigid, Calm, Clear

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