Ascent of Mount Marcy on 2011-10-23

Climber: Arya Morshed

Date:Sunday, October 23, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Marcy
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:5344 ft / 1628 m

Ascent Trip Report

We came on to find ascents of Marcy during this time of the year to get an idea of what to expect but there were none. Here is our contribution:

My friend and I had drove up to Lake Placid on Saturday (day before hike of Mt. Marcy) and checked into the Econolodge. We spent the hour and half before we slept looking up places to have breakfast as close to 6 am as possible (we wanted to make the summit attempt as early as possible because daylight would be short). We decided on the Howard Johnson, which opens at 6:15 am. After a hearty breakfast we got back into the car and headed down the Adirodak Loj road till we reached the parking lot where the head of the Van Hovanburg trail was. There were a few hikers around but no one seemed to be attempting the summit due to the bad weather, making it uncertain if there would be snow up top (we brought crampons in case).

The initial hike (6.8 miles, beginning time 7:45 am) on the van hovanburg trail (marked by blue blazes) was quite easy. Because of hurricane irene there was some flooding and we decided to take the high water bridge because we wanted to avoid jumping from rock to rock in order to traverse the streams that had been created. FYI: two miles into the hike you will pass by the dam.

The hike gradually gets steeper but is never that difficult. We stopped a few times to have water, take in the scenery, and snap some photos but surprisingly, despite the length, the trip to the beginning on the incline to the summit (remaining 1.2 miles) was pretty easy.

Once you enter the alpine zone (now marked by Yellow blazes) you will notice that the trees are much shorter and it is just generally colder. The people that maintain this trail put down planks in oder to prevent the crushing of some of the lichens and what not that are rare due to the elevation. Although we saw some snow on the evergreens on the way up we did not expect to see too much more near the summit, but we were wrong. Upon reaching the remaining rock climb we saw that parts of the rock were covered in ice and there were random snow banks about a 1/2 ft - 1 1/2 ft deep in parts of the rock.

My friend had said that his hands had become incredibly cold and later revealed that they were somewhat swollen (a few days after the hike), he had trouble opening up his backpack and using his hands in general. However, he continued and I let him borrow my gloves for some of it but we both feel that this reaction had something to do with the elevation more than the cold itself.

Although we saw one group using crampons on the way down we decided to continue our hike (now with new energy since we were so close to the summit) without putting them on. Now that our steps were more calculated due to the slope, we were being incredibly careful where we were stepping and avoided much of the snow and ice.

Around 12:20 we reached a flat plain of exposed rock, snow and ice and the summit was in view. There were a few hikers up top already and they were snapping pictures but there was nothing to see as far as views on the top because it was incredibly foggy and there were clouds all around. Despite this it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen (not being on high peaks before). I belly flopped over a boulder and pulled myself up and I was at the summit with my friend where we snapped a few pictures, the time was 12:30 pm. There is a plack on this boulder, that is the summit, that lists all of the hikers who made the first succesful summit attempt as well as gives the native american name of the mountain (meaning cloud splitter).

We were trying to figure out if we could have lunch on the top but determined that it was far too cold. We hiked back down and had lunch in the snow against a rock while the other hikers made there way down. After this 25 min rest we continued our hike down which was mostly uneventful.

With 4 miles left I noticed that my feet were hurting everytime I took a step and decided that we would stop at the dam (with 2 miles remaining to rest and take my hiking shoes off to investigate). We had both been hiking improperly, not keeping our knees bent on the steep descent and we were hurting. We took far fewer breaks on the way back but our hike seemed much longer. When we stopped at the dam I took my shoes off and realized that my feet had some blisters and one of my toes was bleeding. I taped it up (we brought a few supplies from a first aid kit) and kept going. We got back to the lodge and parking lot between 4-5 pm (i don't remember at this moment) and we cleaned ourselves up and drove back to Long Island.

It was a lot of fun. A bit hard to do as a day hike when there isn't much daylight (we advised a few hikers on the way back that they were really going to have to push it to summit), but truly worth it nonetheless. And yes, it is, as my friend put it, in the middle of nowhere. You may not realize it at first but the 6.8 mile hike to the ascent will remind you.

This was our 4th state highpoint and our highest thus far.
Summary Total Data
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Scramble, Exposed Scramble

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