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Ascent of Balsam Mountain on 2014-04-06

Climber: Sean Sharp

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, April 6, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Balsam Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3600 ft / 1097 m

Ascent Trip Report

The first of 4 summits through the Big Indian Wilderness on the day. I opted to take the McKinley Hollowing approach from the east rather the Rider Hollow trail from the west. The McKinley trail is much steeper but I enjoyed the challenge. The forecast for the day was sunny, clear, and warm. In fact, there wasn't a single cloud in the sky during my entire roundtrip.

1. Balsam:
The McKinley Hollow trail begins with two river fords early on (with a visit to the McKinley Lean-to in between); well-placed rocks made the leapfrog to the other side a non-issue. Immediately after the river crossings the grade increases rapidly. Ice covered most of this section, which made the going a bit precarious and slow (by my return trip much of the ice had melted). Despite the grade, I made good time to the 4-way Eagle/Balsam junction and even better time up to Balsam. Lots of snow cover remaining, but the day was young so the trail was still firm. Took in the grand viewless summit of Balsam before skipping back to the junction without event.

2. Haynes:
2 of 4 summits on the day in the Big Indian Wilderness. Ascent from the Eagle/Balsam junction up to Haynes was short (~30 minutes) and uneventful, although the snow was already starting to warm up and turn slushy. As with the majority of the Big Indian Wilderness, views were limited but the best you'll find during the year.

3. Eagle:
#3 of 4 summits on the day. The trail from Haynes to Eagle was still well packed and iced over during this time of the day. By my return trip, however, the sun had warmed the snow considerably and I ended up postholing the majority of the way back. This was both tedious and exhausting. Snowshoes would have been very helpful on the descent; alas! No real views from Eagle, even though the winter is the best time for it.

4. Big Indian:
4th and final summit of the day. By the time I reached the Shandaken Lean-to junction up to Big Indian the snow was warming considerably and minor postholing became an issue on the ascent. My microspikes were mostly useless and I could have used a pair of snowshoes instead. By the time I descended from Big Indian (and all the way back to the trailhead) I was postholing dramatically, which slowed me down considerably and burned a lot of extra energy on an already lengthy out & back. At least it was a very warm day! I ended up with a good sunburn which, in April, is a win in my book.
Summary Total Data
    Route:McKinley Hollow
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Warm!
Ascent Part of Trip: Catskills 4/6/14

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Balsam Mountain2014-04-06
2Haynes Mountain2014-04-06
3Eagle Mountain2014-04-06
4Big Indian Mountain2014-04-06



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