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Ascent of Ampersand Mountain on 2011-09-17

Climber: Doug Harple

Others in Party:JP
Date:Saturday, September 17, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Ampersand Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3314 ft / 1010 m

Ascent Trip Report

My hiking partner, JP, and I set out for Ampersand at noon with over 70 hikers ahead of us, according to the trail register. The hike up was fairly uneventful, traveling first over a relatively flat ground, starting to gain elevation after around a mile, and then really picking up the climb after another third of a mile. We saw a few trees down that we supposed were the result of Irene, including one near the start that chewed up half the trail, and another on the first portion of the climb that had fallen completely across the path.

While we were stopped checking out the second fallen tree, JP back-tracked a bit to get a picture of the graffiti we had seen on some of the rocks on the way up. Someone named “Xio” was scratching her (or his) name into the rocks, with a smiley face and sometimes another message. It enraged us at the time, but in retrospect, it was nothing compared to the summit.

We continued on, and soon reached the steps that would stay with us for the majority of our ascent. The first boulder staircase gained over 100’, after which a short level section was broken by another 50’ staircase. This climbing continued on until a slightly technical face (50’ up, but with an optional trail on the side). Immediately after that we reached a fork in the trail; one half went to the left through some mud, the other half went to the right up a relatively dry cascade. JP and I were separated at this point (he was in the lead), and we ended up going different routes. Neither was marked, but after we reached the summit, it seemed obvious that the track on the left, which I took, was the result of a washout. I reached the top of my track just as he had given up on waiting for me on the other route. The next portion was relatively flat, winding through a bit of woods until the trail passed a massive house-sized glacial erratic, turned left, and went past an even larger one, with a huge cleft and a bit of a cave system in the cleft.

Continuing on, the second mildly technical portion of the climb occurred near the summit, where a short (4-5’) shelf needed to be climbed, followed by a slightly steep final push up to the summit. We reached the summit around 2:30, enjoyed the view, had some lunch, and then started exploring the summit.

The summit marker is not far from the initial summit face, which is a large exposed rock face, the result of Verplanck Colvin having the trees cut down (or burned down, as one legend goes). With no trees to hold the soil down, the wind and the snow took care of the rest. There are a few patches of trees, and they divide the summit up into (at least) 3 sections. The first section was where we had lunch, and were we found the summit marker.

On a side note, what is it with people sitting on summit markers? There was someone sleeping on one of the markers on Cascade, and there was someone sitting on another. On Ampersand there was also someone helping to destroy the summit marker by the use of their rear end. At least it wasn’t one of the original survey markers.

We went over to the next section of the summit, where we found a disgusting amount of graffiti, mostly people signing their names in spray paint. Some of the graffiti goes back to the 70s, which I found a bit surprising; I had expected that the winter would gradually wear away man’s vanity. I suppose we’ll have to wait for the next ice age.

On that second section there’s a marker in honor of Walter Channing Rice (1852-1924), the apparent Hermit of Ampersand, who kept vigil from 1915-1923. Vigil from what, it doesn’t say. What it does say, however, is that the scumbags who climb Ampersand aren’t opposed to risking their necks to stand over the chasm near this plaque for the sole purpose of carving their name upon this marker.

Moving on, while we were exploring the second section, we noticed a herd path leading onward, and decided to check it out. We were rewarded with yet another clearing, including a fire pit, and a magnificent view to the north and east. It was here that we came across a 10‘x10’ bit of graffiti listing several people’s names in a very large font. If I’m not mistaken, this is large enough to be visible from nearby McKenzie Mountain with pair of high power field glasses. Perhaps even Whiteface, with a large enough lens.

We headed back down around 3:45-4:00, and reached the trailhead by 5:30, but not before coming across a party of ill-equipped hikers (walkers) who were just heading up at 5:00. One of them even made the comment, in passing, about it getting dark. A few of them even had hiking boots on!

A couple final notes: this is not a member of the ADK 46 high peaks, but the climb itself is on par with Cascade (a little bit steeper, from the feel of it). The comparison to Cascade is valid in terms of people as well; there were quite a few people with us on the trail, many of whom were simply enjoying a nice walk in the woods; unaware or uncaring about the exposure on the trail. Chucks offer enough traction to climb a slippery rock face, right?
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1739 ft / 530 m
    Distance:5.7 mi / 9.1 km
    Route:Ampersand Mt Trail
    Trailhead:Ampersand Trail Head  1575 ft / 480 m
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Beautiful
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Doug Harple
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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