Whiteface and Esther: Attempt I

Well, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to post stuff.  I’ll keep these short and let the pictures do the talking!

This weekend my Dad came up to join in the fun…or abuse…whatever it may be.  Our first day we attempted Whiteface and Esther.  When we arrived at the trailhead, it was obvious we were the first people there since the last big snow storm–which means we would we be breaking fresh trail in deep, wet snow.  Shortly after we started off, we were overtaken by some snowshoers, who despite the fact they had snowshoes on were sinking in 8-12 inches with every step–this made our ascent on skis even tougher.  As we continued to gain elevation the forest changed from wide-open deciduous to thick confierous.  Partly because the winter trail is 3-4′ off the ground (snow depth), and partly because of lousy trail maintenance, most of the remainder of the hike was spent crouched over, breaking through spruce branches.  At times we were on our hands and knees crawling under windfall, and always dealing with heavy, wet snow falling down from the branches above.

When we reached the herdpath for Esther we were both pretty beat.  My Dad decided to continue on towards Whiteface while I would take the herdpath to Esther.  Unfortunately the new snow had completely concealed the correct herdpath.  I probed in several directions on herdpaths that either died out or went in what seemed to be the wrong direction–due to visibility navigation was again blindly following map, compass, and GPS.  After about an hour of trying to find the herdpath I abandoned the Esther summit attempt to join up with my Dad who was by now tired and probably pretty cold.

We made the last climb up to the Whiteface Auto Road (which briefly runs along side the hiking trail) and skiied up to a Castle like structure that is the terminus of the road and the beginning of a staircase to the summit.  With whiteout conditions, very little energy, frozen gear (gloves, packs, jackets–everything wet and frozen), and deep snow on the staircase to the summit, we decided to abandon the summit attempt and skiied back down via the auto road.  We had staged a car at the bottom of the road, and the descent was 30-45 minutes–a fun way to end an otherwise difficult and disheartening day.

About half-way down the auto road the clouds briefly parted and the sun shone through for the first time in several hours.  The great views down to Lake Placid and the easy glide back to the car melted away all the frustration and misery of the day.

Below are some shots from trip.

Stats:  11 miles, 3000′ vertical

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