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How Many High Peaks Can You Climb in 14 Days?

Can I climb 21 High Peaks in 14 days?

That’s the question I asked myself several months ago and, starting today, it is the question I’ll be trying to answer.

The 46

The Adirondack 46 – known as the “High Peaks” – are the 46 mountains in New York State originally believed to be over 4,000ft in height. More accurate surveys later showed that 4 of the peaks are actually just under 4,000ft (and one poor peak was over 4,000ft but not included), however, for the sake of tradition, it is still commonly accepted that the 46 Adirondack High Peaks are comprised of those originally listed mountains.

You can find a sortable index of these peaks here: The Adirondack 46

The forty-six have come to hold a significant place in Adirondack culture, and you can find that number embedded in names and referenced throughout the region. There is even a beer named after them – the 46er Pale Ale!

As you can imagine, successfully climbing all of these High Peaks is a goal that many people set for themsevels. According to the Adirondack Forty-Sixers – an organization that consists of hikers who have climbed all 46 peaks – over 7,000 people have done so.

I am not one of those 7,000… and I am looking to change that.

1997 to 2012

I’ve been hiking in the Adirondacks on and off for 15 years. My first High Peak was Mt. Marcy, back in 1997.

Since that day I have slowly added to my High Peak count, often re-climbing my favorites. Both Jess and I have been fairly content to continue the slow pace of ticking off High Peaks as time and motivation allow. We’ve tried to avoid focusing in on them at the expense of all of the other amazing hikes and destinations around here. But for whatever reason I got the bug to try to knock the rest of my list off in one push this summer. A friend of mine jokingly suggested it may be related to my upcoming 40th birthday. That can’t really be it… can it?

And so I find myself with 2 weeks of vacation, 21 High Peaks to climb, and (apparently) an impending mid-life crisis.

Can I do it?

Perspective

Some people take years and years – indeed, even a life time – to finish their Forty-Sixer quest.

In fact, on August 18th – just 3 days after I set off on my adventure – Jerry Levine will climb Whiteface Mountain and become a Forty-Sixer at the age of 82!! It will be approximately 32 years between his first High Peak, and this last one. Absolutely amazing! Check out his website here: Oldest Forty-Sixer

On the other end of the amazing spectrum is what our good friend Jan Wellford did back in 2008. He holds the record for fastest known time when he climbed all 46 peaks in 3 days, 17 hours, and 14 minutes. Simply incredible.

I take great inspiration from both of those stories, and they help provide me with some perspective. But while what I am attempting to do may be a walk in the Park in comparison, I know better than to think that it will really be that easy.

In fact, as I sat down to finish mapping out the next 14 days, the challenge of what I am trying to do began to hit me.

My List, and the Schedule

Day 1 – Allen Mountain

Day 2 – Off day

Day 3 – Seymour Mountain

Day 4 – Seward, Donaldson, Emmons

Day 5 – Off Day

Day 6 – Street and Nye

Day 7 – Iroquois and Marshall

Day 8 – Cliff, Redfield, Gray

Day 9 – Off Day

Day 10 – Dix and Hough

Day 11 – Off Day

Day 12 – Santanoni, Panther, Couchsachraga

Day 13 – Off Day

Day 14 – Sawteeth

Day 15 – Esther and Whiteface

OK, ok, so it comes out to 15 total days, not 14. But I can live with that. Depending on how I am feeling, I may eliminate a rest day, or even add another one in. There is some flexibility there.

I am not entirely sure what the total mileage will end up looking like – mainly because a lot of these peaks are “trailless” and thus accurate mileage is hard to find ahead of time – but I will be tracking the hike via GPS and will be certain to post updates and statistics along the way.

What I do know for certain is that today’s hike of Allen Mountain is about 18 miles long, should take me between 8 to 10 hours… oh and it is supposed to rain all day. Y’ouch!

I’ll do my best to provide updates and photos here, but suspect I’ll be pretty beat and pressed for time over the next two weeks. Our Facebook page is likely to receive updates as well, so be sure to check that out!

10 Comments

  1. Steve
    Steve08-15-2012

    Good luck to you and I admire the attempt!

    I think that I might also be going through a midlife crisis; I turn 50 in less than two weeks. I decided just two weeks ago that I must climb a mountain. My son, who turns 18 today, and I are are attempting Cascade on Monday. Not sure that I’m ready for this. I am out of shape and trying to quit smoking but I have this strong desire to try. Hoping that I can push myself just enough without killing myself. :)

    • Dave
      Dave08-16-2012

      Thanks Steve! Cascade is a wonderful first mountain… I think you will really enjoy it. There are usually a good amount of people hiking it, at all paces, so you shouldn’t feel pressured or rushed. Hike at a comfortable speed and you’ll be taking in those views before you know it.

      Last summer we hiked Cascade with of a friend of ours who had never hiked a 46er before – and didn’t think he could! Of course, he ended up having a great time, here are some photos: http://www.townsandtrails.com/cascade-mountain-photos

      Good luck, and have fun — and definitely stop back and let us know how it goes.

  2. Jon Volks
    Jon Volks08-15-2012

    That’s awesome! Good luck with your trip, can’t wait to read about it.

    • Dave
      Dave08-16-2012

      Thanks Jon. Day 1 is in the bag and it was a bit of a doozy! Allen Mountain is generally considered to be an 18.3 mile hike – but if the GPS I carried is to be trusted, it was more like 20 miles. Either way, it was a long day.

      I’m relaxing with my feet up today, licking my wounds a little bit – boy are my legs sore! – and watching the weather closely. It is supposed to rain pretty heavily tomorrow, so that may force me to push the schedule back a day.

  3. Steve
    Steve08-22-2012

    I saw on your Facebook page that your trip is going well, so congrats! I love the pics that you put up as well.

    My son Austin and I summited Cascade and Porter on Monday so I guess that makes us 2ers! We loved the hike but found out that is much easier going up than coming down. We definitely took our time, roughly 9 hours total including breaks. We were both very sore yesterday but all in all not too bad considering that we did no conditioning before the trip.

    I plan on going back for more as we did have a great time. However, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get to the 46er status; I had quite a bit of fear climbing up that last rock to the summit of Cascade and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read that some of the peaks require some rock skills to summit. That’s okay though, this trip was quite the father-son bonding time and we’ll have the pics and memories of our 1st summit forever. Really looking forward to doing more.

    • Dave
      Dave08-25-2012

      Congrats Steve!! That is fantastic news.

      I agree with you, I much prefer going up to going down. Well, I should clarify… gradual downhill is my preference, but when it comes to steep terrain I will take going up to coming down any day.

      The bald summits and steep rock can be sketchy, so don’t feel bad for having some feelings of fear. I do bet, however, that that is something you will begin to feel more comfortable with if you did it again. If not, there are plenty of Adirondack mountains (including lots of the 46) that do not have such exposed, rocky summits.

      Do you have any peaks in mind for your 3rd and 4th?

      • Steve
        Steve08-29-2012

        Thanks Dave. No peaks in mind yet, any suggestions? My 13 year old daughter is thinking about going next time too so I’ll have to think hard about this one; she’s the type that doesn’t like bugs. :)

        Good luck tomorrow! I think it’s your final day? You must be pretty stoked about the trip and the bigger accomplishment!! Looking forward to more pics.

        • Dave
          Dave09-03-2012

          There are a few great peaks you can consider next that are of similar effort and experience to Cascade.

          I personally find Phelps to be a good, short(ish) hike for people just starting out. You get to check out the ADK Loj, and hike into the Marcy Dam area. And the summit is not as exposed as Cascade was – more like Porter – so you should be fine with the rocky climb part of it.

          Giant Mountain is a bit more effort, and can have some slabby sections where you are scrambling up rocks, but those take place on the trail… and not on a bog exposed summit cone, so I bet you’d feel better about them.

          I would also recommend Whiteface and Esther. Having just done it, I found the hike to be pretty interesting. Not really a ‘wild’ experience, as you will be crossing ski paths, even a road, but certainly one I would recommend to someone looking for a step up from Cascade. The final stretch of hiking up to Whiteface does take place along a rocky ridge that can affect people who do not like exposure or heights – but I don’t think it is any worse than Cascade (less so really) – and the rest of the hike, including over to Esther – is all in tree cover and very pleasant.

          Definitely let us know when you tackle another one, and best of luck!

  4. dan
    dan08-26-2012

    Best luck just did Whiteface and Esther for accompanied with the family my 44th birthday. This makes 8. Was thinking if I could make all 46 before 46, then thought no that would be crazy. Very inspiring goal your setting. Will try and follow. Wonder how you selected list? Trying to research what are the best routes to get multiples. Like I said did wtface and Esther this weekend, there is a fine line between doing multiples and getting up the next day (or two) and being ready to tackle more. If you have any suggestions on favorite multiples, I’d love to hear. Best of Luck

    • Dave
      Dave09-03-2012

      Hi Dan, thanks for good luck wishes. The hikes were great, and I finished with Whiteface this past Thursday. I will posting an update soon, after I recover and catch up with other things this week.

      As far as the list goes, I was obviously restricted to the mountains I had left to finish the 46. But besides that, what I tried to do was identify and rank the hikes by distance and effort. Easy to hard, in other words. And then I tried to alternate them, so that I never had two really hard days in a row. I had a lot of help from my friend Jan when it came to ranking them like this. But I ended up having to alter the schedule quite a bit due to a screw up on my part on the second day, so the order that I actually hiked them in is not really in line with what I planned above.

      In terms linking multiple peaks in one hike, for a lot of the High Peaks they pairings are obvious one you are aware of where each one is on the map… and how the trails are laid out.

      Some obvious pairings that come to mind are:

      Cascade and Porter
      Algonquin and Wright (and you can add Iroquois too)
      Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge
      Dial and Nippletop
      Colvin and Blake
      Street and Nye

      There are a lot of pairing opportunities along the Great Range, and especially in and around the Marcy area. Grey/Skylight, Cliff/Redfield, etc. A quick look at this area on a map should reveal a bunch of options.

      Also look into the Dix range, the Santanoni’s, and the Sewards. These are ranges of mountains with 3 to 4 peaks relatively close to one another and are often hiked together.

      I hope this helps some. Please feel free to comment back if you have any questions!

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