Adirondack Winter Hiking – Algonquin and Wright Peaks
On Saturday March 20th, Matthew Nuss, several Hudson Valley Hikers and myself attempted three peaks in the Macintyre Range of the Adirondack Mountains, Algonquin, Iroquois, and Wright. Matthew Nuss has written the following trip report of our hike.
All three mountains of the Macintyre Range are ‘above treeline’, meaning that the summits are totally exposed to the elements. From the beginning, we began our hike knowing that we may need to turn back if the wind proved too strong, but we were determined none-the-less. We met the rest of our group for the day (a total of 7 people) at the Adirondack Loj parking lot, including two people who were visiting from England.
The trail started out fairly flat and the trail was packed down, so we could walk on it with microspikes. As we approached the junction with Wright Mountain, the steepness greatly increased and we switched to crampons so that we would be prepared for ice above the treeline. The long slabs of rock after the Wright junction, which usually require careful maneuvering, were so well-packed snow that we were all able to walk right up them. There was virtually no wind before we got to the treeline of Algonquin, but as soon as we poked just above it, the wind began howling.
Above treeline, footprints had been blown away but the cairns and the painted yellow markers showed through. The wind was coming from the south and was mostly blocked from the summit. The ferocity of the wind increased as we neared the summit, and one of our fellow hikers – who was descending – warned us we would need ski goggles for the ice/snow and wind on the top. After donning our goggles, we pushed up to the summit, where the wind got stronger.
We estimate the wind was gusting up to 50mph or so. At this point we decided that it was not safe to proceed onward to Iroquois, which would involve walking into the wind, as well as ‘bushwhacking’ (meaning the path is not marked).
We quickly descended after taking a few pictures of the amazing scenery (Algonquin is the second highest peak in New York State, so the views are great). Our next objective was Wright Peak, which is known for being the windiest peak in the Adirondack Range.
Wright Peak lived up to it’s name, and then some! The top of Wright is rocky and, because of it’s position, stands in the face of the wind. We made our way slowly and, as we approached the summit rock, we crawled to the top to minimize contact area with the wind. Again, the views were amazing, but we did not stay very long.
We then carefully descended, and took a nice break down below to talk and laugh about the wind, eat some food, and re-hydrate. One of our friends did some ice climbing on the way out.
Afterwards, to celebrate our achievement of ascending two winter peaks, we went out to Lake Placid Brewing Company for drinks, food, and of course….chocolate desserts!
Overall, a fun and exhilarating adventure on the first day of Spring. Winter has not left the Northeast just yet!