Mt. Marcy, New York
Mt. Marcy? Sweet name, right? Ah! Not so sweet when you hear the facts. With a height of 5,344 feet, Mt. Marcy is one of the highest peaks of the High Peaks region of New York’s Adirondack State Park; a Mecca for serious mountain climbing in the east.
Add minus 30 degrees F temperature and wind gusting at a speed of 75 mph, this can be a seriously challenging climb during the winters. Even in summer time, this is no cake.
Start your trip with an overnight at Marcy Dam, a 2.3-mile hike from the historic Adirondack Lodge (or in local parlance, the Loj). You’ll find shelter in one of five three-sided log lean-tos, but frigid temps will still make this feel like full-on winter camping. (Trap some extra warmth by draping a tarp over the open side.) The good news is you’ll be poised for an alpine start, which you’ll need for the 10.2-mile round-trip assault on Marcy’s summit.
This is the easiest (nontechnical) route to the summit, but it still requires your A-game in winter conditions. Before dawn, head down the well-marked Van Hoevenberg Trail (named after Henry Van Hoevenberg, who pioneered the first route up Mt. Marcy and opened the original Loj in 1890). The first couple miles unroll at a gentle grade, but the trail soon steepens. At 5,000 feet, you’ll pop out above treeline; it’s wise to stop and refuel before you do. Mt. Washington may have the windspeed record of 231 mph, but Marcy regularly clocks gusts up to 75 mph. During warm spells, Marcy can be ice-free. But expect anything from deep, drifted snow to glare ice–pack crampons, an ice axe, and an emergency sleeping bag.
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