Hiking the High Peaks

The Adirondack 46r’s is an organization that is only open to people who have climbed all 46 of New York’s highest mountains, and I intend to become a member of that club.

The High Peaks were originally surveyed by Verplank Colvin, and his crews found that there were forty-six mountains with summit elevations above 4000’.  Later, and obviously, more accurate surveys found that of the original 46, four of them were actually under 4000’, and one “new” mountain was above 4000’.  By this time however, tradition had set in and nothing really changed when it came to hiking the High Peaks.

Some of the High Peaks are well known, such as Whiteface Mountain, home of the 1980 Winter Olympics alpine events, and Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in the state.  And then of course, some of them are less well known, like Couchsachraga, which to be honest, I can’t even pronounce.

Twenty of the peaks are “trail-less,” meaning that there is no officially designated route to the summit.  So far, I have climbed Boundary, Esther, Street, and Nye Mountains, with absolutely no problem finding the herd path to the summits.  Enough people climb the High Peaks that the paths are pretty well defined.  I’ve run into a couple of instances following these paths when I wasn’t quite sure which way to go, but was able to figure it out with no real problems.

Up to this point in my life, I have hiked 14 of the 46 peaks.  The first one I climbed was Cascade Mountain, a short and pretty easy climb not far from Lake Placid.  Just below the summit of Cascade, the trail splits and goes over to Porter Mountain, another High Peak.  Unfortunately, due to a sick friend, the first time I went up Cascade, I didn’t get to do Porter.  A few years went by, and it bugged me the whole time that I basically had to climb Cascade again just to do Porter.  Finally, in the summer of 2008, I re-climbed Cascade and made it to the summit of Porter.  That was Pico’s first High Peaks experience, and he slept like a dog that afternoon.

During college I also hiked Algonquin, Wright, Iroquois, Boundary, Haystack, Basin, Saddleback, and Big Slide.  I cross country skied almost to the summit of Whiteface, but decided not to count that.

I began the summer with 10 peaks under my belt, but after five years in Florida, my legs were just not accustomed to carrying me across a non-horizontal surface, so Pico and I again climbed Cascade and Porter just to get ready.  Since then, there’s been four more peaks crossed off the list, and plans are in the works for a five-peak day.

14 down, 32 to go!

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