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 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.
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?
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!