Ascent of Graham Mountain on 2011-01-16

Climber: Debbie Melita

Others in Party:Valerie Accardi
Ted Wallace
Scott Smith
Vladimir Kotlyarevsky
Date:Sunday, January 16, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Graham Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:3868 ft / 1178 m

Ascent Trip Report

See my photos at

Scott’s photos at

Ted’s tracklog (with some teleportation in sections) at

This was the second of three days spent hiking over the long holiday weekend (Saturday was a leisurely stroll up Halcott and Monday was a spectacular day in the Blackhead range), and it was a great day to be out in the woods.

Most of the usual suspects (niceguyted, FatVegan, ValleyGirlHikes, Vladimir and myself) assembled, but we really missed those who had to cancel due to illness and injury. We left a car at the Dry Brook Ridge PA on Millbrook Rd. (plowed, but slippery) and car pooled over to Seager (plowed). A big thanks goes to the “F” half of Halia & Flammeus for driving us over – Tom, I don’t care what everyone else says, you’re awesome!

I signed in at the register and saw that a group of 7 had been up to Doubletop the day before. This gave us great hope that we wouldn’t have to break trail the entire way, as we had expected. We really got lucky – their snowshoe trail led us up exactly on our bearing and took us right to the can at the top. This probably saved us at least an hour from breaking trail in deep soft snow. We stopped for hot beverages and snacks before heading over to Graham, which would require breaking trail. Soon, the terrain dropped off steeply and though we managed to remain upright most of the time, some of us found ourselves occasionally on our backsides sliding down in deep powder. There were also occasional face plants and snow angels. Unfortunately, during this section we got off track and headed too far south, so if anyone planned to follow our route from DT to Graham, you should ignore our tracks and stay on the correct bearing. Luckily, we were able to sidehill without much difficulty and get back on track at the col between the two peaks. We stopped there to enjoy a quick lunch in the beautiful, warm sun.

The climb up to Graham was steep and slow. The snow was a deep, soft pile of baby powder covering layers of rocks and ledges. Our progress consisted of two steps forward, one step back. Finally, we gained the ridge and turned around to find ourselves looking east from a spectacular viewpoint. Before us was a panorama that included the peaks of Doubletop, Slide, Fir, Big Indian, Eagle, Haynes, Panther and even distant evidence of the Devil’s Path. My photos don’t do it justice. A short walk through the stunted brush brought us to the summit and we stepped inside the old stone structure to get out of the wind and put on an extra layer for the long descent down to the Dry Brook Ridge trail.

About an hour later, we reached the blue blazes and Scott and Valerie decided not to continue on to BLM since they were feeling quite tired and Scott’s foot had been cramping all day. So they headed down to the car while Vladimir, Ted and I hiked west towards the late afternoon sun through pines covered in dense snow and found ourselves at the summit just as dusk was falling. We ran a victory lap around the tower and took a moment to enjoy the stillness of the evening. I snapped a photo of the moon hovering over the circle of pines and then we broke the spell and put on our headlamps.

The walk out was easy and enjoyable, thanks to the fact that Hermit and Maddy had broken out the trail a few days before.

This was definitely not an easy day (10+ miles, often in deep snow), but I still came away feeling energized. Despite the sometimes difficult conditions (weather, terrain, fatigue, etc.) the things I remember most are the crisp, clean air; the magical snow-covered trees transformed into structures from some far-off wintry planet; the laughter of my friends, peaceful woods and the heightened sensory perception of walking out under moonlight. I want to go back and do it again!
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ascent Part of Trip: Doubletop/Graham/BLM

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Doubletop Mountain2011-01-16 
2Graham Mountain2011-01-16 
3Balsam Lake Mountain2011-01-16 

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