Ascent of Alander Mountain-Southwest Ridge on 2010-03-20

Climber: Dave Dunham

Date:Saturday, March 20, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Alander Mountain-Southwest Ridge
    Location:USA-Massachusetts/New York
    Elevation:2110 ft / 643 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Alander summit, beautiful day 70 degrees. Hit the top at sunset, last 20 minutes out in dark. Ran the entire way (slowly).

With a late start (4:30 PM) for the final snowshoe race of the season, I took my time heading out to Western Mass. I started the day with a 30 minute bike and a 10 minute row, and then headed to Georgetown for a massage. I’m still having plantar fascia woes and was hoping to loosen up before the race. With plenty of time in the bank I stopped in Upton to check out the Merrimack-Blackstone-Charles triple divide which turned out to be a big office park on a hill. There wasn’t much of a view but it did give me a couple of minutes to stretch my legs before driving another 100 miles on the Mass pike. I rolled into Great Barrington with some time to spare so I headed to the Mt Washington state forest to check out road conditions. Eric Morse and I were planning on doing some hike after the race then bagging a bunch of peaks on Sunday morning. I wanted to see how East Road (dirt) was and where it might be blocked. That would have a big affect on the hiking plans. The road turned out to be muddy but passable and it was blocked right at the state line which was fine for us.

I headed over to the race site at Catamount ski area and was the fourth person in line to sign up. I had a feeling this would be a small race. Last year it drew 31 finishers and with the warm temps it would be a struggle to get that many people thinking “snowshoe race”. I felt lousy doing a two mile warm-up with Eric. My sinuses were still stuffed up from the head-cold I’d had for over a week and the 70 degree temperatures felt way too warm for late March. After running two miles I switched into my singlet and headed over to the start. We had to wait a bit as the groomer was still out going over the course. This would be important as the grooming was the only way the course was marked!

The snow was very mushy, but there was ample coverage for a snowshoe race. This was the first time I’d done a snowshoe race in shorts/singlet but I was not in the minority dressed that way. We started a bit after 4:30 and it seemed like everyone just shot out at the start. I rolled up into second place on the first little down-hill, then the climbing commenced. We’d climb for 950’ in the first 1.2 miles then zip down over about 1.4 miles. By two minutes into the race I was in a group of four and Ross Krause was pushing at the front. He began to pull away and I attempted to go but was already wheezing and feeling awful.

I was able to slowly pull away from Kurt Gustafson and James Boeding. Boeding is a high school student who did his first snowshoe race last year at Catamount (and finished in third place). He told me at the start that he had forgotten about the race and had been snowboarding all day. When he heard about the race he signed up immediately. As Ross pulled away I could hear the footfalls behind me also fade away. By about 2/3rds of the way up the mountain I knew my chances of winning were gone. I figured that I’d need to beat Ross to the top to have any chance of beating him (he out descended me at Northfield by a couple of minutes).

I hit the top in 15:14 and was 29 seconds back at that point. For the most part I tried to just stay on my feet and hold second place on the descent. It took me all of 8:41 to cover the 1.4 miles back to the base. I was pleased with the effort (I really had nothing more to give), but finished 1:11 slower than last year and 1:07 behind Ross. I definitely felt that the lack of training is catching up to me. Not a good indicator for the spring. Ross got his first snowshoe win (just missing my CR from last year) and his wife (Ashley) also scored her first win with an impressive 7th place overall finish.

Eric and I did a two mile warm-down then headed out. Our plan was to do a run/hike up Alander mountain and bag the county high point on the west slope. We reached the trailhead at 6 PM and quickly trotted off. At first we tried to avoid the wet spots in the trail but some sections were all water and eventually we just stomped on through. The trail was in great shape for the first day of Spring, there was a mix of bare ground, wet ground (a lot), and packed snow. We ran it in our regular running shoes and had no problems with traction. A couple of hikers called us “hardcore” as we ran by on a particularly wet and snow section. We passed some guys camping along the way, man they picked an excellent night to be out in the woods. At 6 PM it was still in the upper 60’s.

We hit the hut below the summit in 42 minutes then continued on the summit and quickly over to the county high point. We were back on the summit in time to catch the final rays of the day then made our way back down the trail. It was a pretty uneventful run down, but the few uphills were tough as I was running out of gas. We had a quick stop about ½ way down to put on our headlamps, but it really wasn’t too bad except in some of the darker piney woods. We were back at the car by 7:40 and headed for Great Barrington for food and rest. It was a pretty cool day with a little bit of racing and some fun time on the trails in the woods.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:510 ft / 154 m
    Extra Gain:200 ft / 60 m
    Trailhead:2220 ft / 676 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
Ascent Part of Trip: NY COHP

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Alander Mountain2010-03-201726 ft / 526 m
2Alander Mountain-Southwest Ridge2010-03-20510 ft / 155 m
Total Trip Gain: 2236 ft / 681 m    Total Trip Loss: 2236 ft / 681 m

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