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Ascent of Esther Mountain on 2016-03-19

Climber: Steve Smith

Others in Party:Kevin Zuech
Date:Saturday, March 19, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Esther Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4239 ft / 1292 m

Ascent Trip Report

Started at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center trailhead. The trail starts slightly down hill and widens before going up at a fairly steep grade on mixed rock and ice. The sky was crystal clear and nothing but blue which made for some amazing photos. The first good views (at least that I noticed) were about half way up Marble mountain. I believe what we were looking at was Esther off to our right but I can't say for sure. There was just enough snow cover to have good traction about three quarters of the way up Marble mountain. At that point the ice covered most of the trail so we put on microspikes. This increased our pace significantly since we didn't have to be careful of slipping on the ice. Once we reached the top of Marble mountain we were treated to a nice view down the old ski slope. We took a few quick photos and kept on moving. The trail continued up at a moderate grade with one or two short sections that were a little more mellow. After about 2 miles or so, we came across what looked like a very well defined but unmarked herd path leading off to our right. We stopped and wondered if this was the trail to Esther but we were thinking that there was a cairn and/or a sign pointing toward Esther at the proper junction. It had been a while since either of us had researched these mountains and neither of us had bothered to refresh ourselves before this trip so we weren't completely sure but decided to keep going for at least another 10 minutes in search of the junction. This ended up being the right call since we came to a very large cairn and sign marking the junction to Esther after about 0.1-0.2 miles. We both wondered if the unmarked trail was an old herd path to Esther or possibly an overlook but we didn't bother to investigate (maybe another time). The trail to Esther was very well defined for a supposed unmaintained trail. The views from the summit were better than expected. Looking toward Whiteface on such a clear day was really nice especially knowing that it would be the finish of my 46. After a few photos, we made our way back down to the junction and headed for Whiteface. The trail eventually took a hard left at the stone wall holding up the auto road. We followed this up to the road and scrambled up to regain the trail above the road. From there it got a little more exposed but with the clear day and only mild wind it was an incredible walk to the summit. On the summit we celebrated the achievement, took some photos, enjoyed the views, and talked about Kevin finishing his last 7 peaks. The hike down to the car was uneventful. It felt good to get the microspikes and mountaineering boots off. The funny thing is that most of our trips up there we had big days or late starts so it felt a little strange to be down so early. Even with spending a lot of time on the summit, it took us just over 6 and 1/2 hours.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Cold, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Part of Trip: Esther & Whiteface (0 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDate
1Esther Mountain2016-03-19
2Whiteface Mountain2016-03-19



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