Back in 1925, Bob Marshall, his brother George, and their friend and guide Herbert Clark climbed to the top of Mount Emmons. By doing so, they became the first people to climb all 46 Adirondack peaks above 4,000 feet in elevation. They couldn't have had any idea how many people would eventually follow in their footsteps and how many still continue to do so.
Climbing the Adirondack peaks above 4,000 feet has become one of, if not the most popular peakbagging lists in the U.S. At the end of 2012, the number of people who had reported climbing all forty-six peaks was a whopping 7,806! I have no idea how many more people are working on the list and at varying stages of completion, but I find it amazing that so many have done this, considering how difficult some of these hikes are. While none of these peaks could be considered true mountaineering or technical climbing challenges by their standard routes - at least not during the non-Winter months - a good many of them require considerable scrambling and a certain amount of exposure. They are invariably steep, some of them hideously so. Several do not have official trails, but only well used herd paths created by the masses that often require careful attention to stay on them, and much care to safely travel. Even the best trails are often rough and rocky, muddy, and require much root grabbing, rock scrambling, and bog hopping. Most require long hikes with several thousand feet of elevation gain and corresponding loss. On top of all that, they are relatively far north and the weather is often cold and wet, a hazard exacerbated on the more alpine summits. People can and do die on these mountains.
These factors tend to negate what I personally consider a few shortcomings of the list from a peakbaggers perspective. Peakbagging lists usually (but not always) have strict criteria as to what are considered qualifying peaks. Among other things, they almost always have definitive elevation and/or prominence cutoffs, and are modified if more accurate surveys prove that certain peaks do not meet the criteria, or that other peaks do. As it turns out, four of the Adirondack 46er peaks are less than 4,000 feet in elevation and there are at least two other sub 4,000 foot peaks in the range that are not on the list, but that are higher than three of the peaks that are on the list. In addition to that, there are at least fourteen of the peaks that have less than the traditional 300’ of prominence that defines a peak, with eight of those not even having the 200’ of prominence that is more commonly accepted as the definition for a peak in the Northeast. That being said, this is a club list, and as such, can be based on anything the club wishes it to be. In this case, it is retained as a historical list, based on the same 46 peaks that were believed to be above 4,000 feet in Bob Marshall’s time and first completed by his trio. There is indeed a certain amount of appeal in that. And in some ways, the discrepancies even add a certain aura of difficulty to the list. The fact that you have to make a difficult three mile side trip on an already challenging hike to bag the lowest peak on the list, the mere 3,792’ summit of viewless Couchsachraga, makes it seem more daunting rather than less. Most people end up dreading the thought of the effort they are going to have to expend for a peak that realistically shouldn’t even be on the list. Even so, I don’t really understand how a summit like Nye, with only 98’ of prominence, was ever considered to be a true peak, regardless of its elevation - only 3,854’ as it turns out. But it isn’t by any means easy to get to either.
So why do this in the first place then? It was sometime in the early or mid-nineties when I first started to become interested in the Adirondacks, and I made my first visit in 1999 with my friend Tommy Bell. There was no denying that I was immediately hooked! These mountains were (and are) spectacular, not to mention challenging and fun. I knew I would return. And so I did, thus far another eight times over the course of the fourteen years since that first trip. On all but one of those trips I climbed at least a few of the 46er peaks, sometimes repeating ones I had already been up, but also doing at least a few new ones too. At some point after the first three or four visits, I passed the halfway point and began to think that I might actually one day complete the list. What follows in the next two posts is a brief, yet sometimes wordy synopsis of each visit, with a somewhat more detailed story of the most recent trip and its successful finish.
Larger version of map located here
Adirondack 46ers map on Lists Of John
The Adirondack 46ers
First Climbed By Me
|Rocky Peak Ridge||4420|
|Upper Wolf Jaw||4185|
|Lower Wolf Jaw||4175|