Ascent of Esther Mountain on 2008-01-12

Climber: Scott Ireland

Date:Saturday, January 12, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Esther Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4239 ft / 1292 m

Ascent Trip Report

On Saturday, 1/12, I joined an ADK hike up Esther Mtn. There were seven hikers in the group, including our ADK guide / leader. After four months without a hike, I was excited to finally be out on the trails again especially since this was my very first winter high peak.

The group met at a parking lot at the intersection of Routes 82 and 431. Once we were all there, the plan was to drive the last 2+ miles to the trailhead in our own cars. One of the hikers, Scott, was being dropped off by his wife. Rather than have her drive to the trailhead and turn around, I offered to drive Scott. In the car, we made some small talk and I was shocked to learn that this guy was none other than The Winter Warlock from the forum.

We started this overcast day by parking near the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center. I believe the temperature was approximately 30 degrees F when we began hiking at 8:30am. After a few minutes of walking, we passed a radio tower and then began our steep ascent up the old T-bar line of Marble Mountain. After a week of warm temperatures and rain in the days before, the trail was more like a stream than a path. Slick and ice-covered rocks added to the challenge of the climb. Eventually, we made it to the summit of Marble and enjoyed an open view.

From Marble, we took the Wilmington Trail up Lookout Mountain. Although there was elevation gain on this trail, there wasn’t a long, steep ascent like on Marble. Soon we made it to the junction of Esther and Whiteface Mountains.

The unmarked trail to Esther was enjoyable for the most part. Although we were experiencing mild temperatures, periodic snowflakes and somewhat gray conditions, every time we had a view of the Great Range, those mountains appeared to be bathed in bright sunlight. On this leg of the trip, we ran into a group coming down from Esther. They were off to do Whiteface as well that day. After they passed Winter Warlock told me the group included Jay H and Snickers.

At around noon, we made it to the summit of Esther. Everyone celebrated, took a few pictures, admired the view and had a quick bite / drink. After 10-15 minutes on the summit, we headed down to get out of the wind.

When we made it back to the junction with Whiteface, we stopped for lunch. At this point, only half of the group had used snowshoes that day. Despite the mild temperature of the prior days, the snow on the trail was packed down and strong enough that snowshoes were not needed on our ascent (we weren’t post-holing). However, on our descent, we had noticed that the snow had softened and we all put on our snowshoes. This was fine by me as this was my first opportunity to wear my new snowshoes. Plus wearing the snowshoes lightened my pack and it was one less thing to snag branches with.

The hike back to Marble was quick and easy enough. However, the steep descent down the old T-bar trail, which was like an icy stream, was slow and most of us removed our snowshoes here. We made it back to the parking lot by 3pm.

This hike was memorable for a few reasons. It was my first winter high peak and I finally got to use my new winter gear. Second, since my last few hikes were solo hikes, I had fun getting to know new people, especially the Winter Warlock who I’ll see again on Feb 9th. And finally, I really enjoyed having a guide lead us. I left the navigating to him and was able to soak in the scenery without having to worry about missing the trail turnoffs, etc. Also, throughout the day our guide provided hiking tips, bits of history, and shared some of his experiences, all of which thoroughly enriched the day.
Summary Total Data
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cold, Windy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:6 Hours 30 Minutes

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