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Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike #2 and My First SOLO Climb! Black Mountain!

Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike #2 and My First SOLO Climb! Black Mountain!

I know, I said I would do the Catskill towers first…

…but the SNOW was in the Adirondacks and I wanted some! So on February 5th, I headed off for Black Mountain, the tallest of the peaks that surround Lake George.

This was also my very first solo adventure of any real magnitude! Sure, I get out to the nature preserves to shoot by myself but a mountain climb, in the Winter, by myself…well..scary and exciting!

The trail conditions were lot more like May conditions than early February! Very rotten ice down low, lots of postholing into the water that ran underneath. Up high, solid ice in a few spots and I would not recommend doing this one without MICROspikes. That’s been the case though for all of the hikes I have done this winter, and at times, crampons would not be overkill!

Anyhow I am quite far behind on posting the hikes, so, on to the details!

Black Mountain Winter Fire Tower Challenge – About the Hike:

You may also enjoy our other Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge blog posts, and our Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge VIDEO PLAYLIST! I have included both links at the end of this post if you want to read on and check them out later.

The trail head on Pike Brook Road. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The trail head on Pike Brook Road. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

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I took the red trail out and back, five miles total. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
I took the red trail out and back, five miles total. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

I took the red trail out and back, five miles total going this way. There is an awesome loop you can do which passes by ponds and lean tos, but given the postholing conditions in the lower elevation sections of trail, I passed on that.

Elevation Gain: 1,046 feet

Summit Elevation: 2,646 feet

Unfortunately, the tower is not open for climbing. The good news is, you don’t need to climb the tower for some amazing views!

Difficulty: Moderate – with a few difficult steep icy spots up high in the winter. 

NOTE: This is a pack-it-in, pack-it-out area. Please pack a trash bag and take all food and trash with you, when you leave. THANK YOU!

Safety: When I went, Microspikes were needed for safest travel along the icy trail. If by chance we ever get snow this year, you may want to use snow shoes but they were definitely not needed the day I climbed. There are a lot of rocks and roots all along the trail, so good sturdy hiking boots are best. The trail can also be quite wet, year around, so waterproof boots are recommended!

The summit is a fairly open area, so bring warm clothing if you attempt this hike in the Winter. There are cliffs at the summit as well – so keep smaller children close as you familiarize yourself. There is plenty of safe space, as you will see in the video, so do not let that deter you from this beautiful hike, just be sure everyone is aware and appropriately cautious.

The Adirondacks are home to lots of wildlife, including black bears. It is unlikely you will encounter any, but if you take the kiddos, be sure everyone knows what to look and listen for, and what to do should you encounter any animals.

Parking: Plenty of parking at the Pike Brook Road trailhead. GPS Coordinates for the parking lot: 43.612, -73.493

Some GPS data from the hike:

GPS track of my hike overlaid on Google Earth. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
GPS track of my hike overlaid on Google Earth. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

 

GPS Profile of the Hike. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
GPS Profile of the Hike. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

 

Hike data reported on my GPS. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Hike data reported on my GPS. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

A few photos, then on to the trail video!

Rotten ice and postholing on the lower elevation portion of the trail. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Rotten ice and postholing on the lower elevation portion of the trail. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Cool cairns along the trail. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Cool cairns along the trail. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Snowing harder! So awesome! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Snowing harder! So awesome! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Pretty ice dusted with fresh snow...a beautiful hike! VERY icy trail - traction required! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Pretty ice dusted with fresh snow…a beautiful hike! VERY icy trail – traction required! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Pretty moss and a fresh dusting of snow! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Pretty moss and a fresh dusting of snow! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Beautiful ice formation along the trail. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Beautiful ice formation along the trail. February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
VERY icy trail - traction required! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
VERY icy trail – traction required! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
VERY icy trail - traction required! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
VERY icy trail – traction required! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
First views of the fire tower! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
First views of the fire tower! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Cool little spot where I sat for cocoa and snacks before heading down! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
Cool little spot where I sat for cocoa and snacks before heading down! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
No views of the lake today! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
No views of the lake today! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The fire tower! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
The fire tower! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
A snowy summit, my favorite! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!
A snowy summit, my favorite! February 5, 2016 Black Mountain: My First SOLO Winter Fire Tower Challenge Hike!

You may also enjoy our other Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge blog posts, and our Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge VIDEO PLAYLIST!

About the ADK Fire Tower Challenge:

In all, there are 29 climbs on the official list: five in the Catskill Mountains, and twenty-four in the Adirondacks (you only need to complete eighteen of the twenty-four Adirondack towers to earn your patch for completing the challenge). Here is the official Fire Tower Challenge list, and more information about the Fire Tower Challenge, if you are interested. There is also a Fire Tower Challenge group on Facebook, a great place to get the latest trail and access conditions from those who have recently done your planned hike. And – to share your photos and stories of your hikes, which is the best part! 🙂

Here’s the video! I tried something different this time, talking through the hike. I hope you like it!

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