Santanoni Range
March 4, 2006

 
Date Hiked : March 4/5, 2006
Route : Trail #128 (Duck Hole via Bradley Pond)
Herd Path to Santanoni Range
Weather : 10 - 30+ f
Trail : 14.7 Miles Roundtrip
3,270 vertical feet
Participants : Solo
  Photo Journal
   
This weekend was my reintroduction to the mountains. I planned on a solo event which will allow me to climb at my own pace and to truly enjoy being in the back country. The plan was to carry full pack toward Times Square and setup camp for Saturday evening.

I started out from the parking area at 7:15 heading down the road 1.8 miles to the turn off for the trail.

Trail start off the Road.

The trail back to Bradley pond was easy to follow as there was a solo climber ahead of me and other climbers that came in the previous day.

The start of the herd path off the main trail.

Upon reaching a large tree that fell on the trail you turn left to circumnavigate it. Here is also the start of the herd path to the Santanoni Range.

Ice falling from the cliffs and snow covered trail conditions.

Traveling along the herd path toward the cliffs was easy going. There was now only the solo climber ahead of me and the new snow on the trail made for good footing. Upon reaching the cliffs, I considered setting up a camp and continue toward the range with a lighter pack. When I reached the 3,200 foot level, I located a flat area for my camp.

Setting up the camp involved first leveling and compacting the snow. The snow was fresh and fluffy and I used my snowshoes to tramp down an area large enough for the Black Diamond First Light tent. At one point I postholed and realized the snow was easily over 4 feet deep!

After getting camp setup, I repacked my gear into a day pack I brought along and set off for Times Square.

My home for the evening.

When I reached the junction where you would turn right for Panther and left for Times Square I turned right. The snow level was hard enough to sustain my weight, but with one side step, you would posthole so care must be taken. The conditions were not ideal and visibility would at times drop to less than 100 yards with strong winds.

As I approached Panther Peak, I took extra care to leave tell tale markings in the snow indicating my route. The winds were covering over your steps within minutes. Reaching the small cliffs before the summit I would take extra care to break the surface showing my return route. Reaching the summit, I took a few pictures and left. The views were non-existent today.

Panther Peak.

Returning to the main herd path, I then headed over to Times Square. Here I took a break to fuel up and to decide where I would head next. I could see the other solo climber went toward Couchie and no tracks were going toward Santanoni. It was now 12:00 and I decided to head toward Santanoni.

The going was not very good. The previous herd paths were gone and I spent 1.5 hours to go just 0.3 miles. I did find remnants of previous trails, but they mostly ended. I had no visibility and was navigating using only my compass. I decided to head back to Times Square.

At Times Square I refueled and started down the path toward Couchie. As I started, I met the other solo climber returning. We talked about the trail and how there was no views. I continued on and found there were two spur trails off the main herd path. I marked them with crosses branches to help other that may follow. The entire trip to Couchie offered no views and heavy snow on branches.

Couchsachraga !

On the return from Couchie, the weather started to clear and views for many miles could be enjoyed.

Views started to open up on the return to Times Square.

I returned to my camp while it was still light out. I laid out my closed cell pad next to a tree and planted the stove to my left and supplies to my right and enjoyed an hour just sitting there taking in all the beauty. It felt so good to be up there. A hot dinner and hot chocolate really felt good going down. The temperature was around 10, but there was no wind.

Later in the evening I heard three other climbers pass by. I believe they headed over to Santanoni while I was on Couchie. Hopefully they made it where I was turned back.

In the morning I broke down camp. It was a great day out and the views would be great on the top. On the trail I ran into Shin as he was headed up to visit Couchie and Santanoni which will be his #44 and #45 toward his 46W list. Following Shin was Harry and Nancy as they also needed to visit Couchie for Nancy's 46W list. A few minutes later I met Alain and Pin-Pin Jr.

I was back at the car by 10:00 am and took a leisurely drive back home arriving at 5:00 pm. This was a great weekend to get back into climbing.