Monday, April 10, 2006

Mt. Mansfield

Because I'm heading to Oregon State next fall for the next 6 years I've decided to put a lot of effort into finishing my Northeast 111 (All the peaks over 4,000 ft from NY to Maine - actually 115 of them). With gas prices totally sucking as they are I decided to take my father's car to the mountains when I go thus saving me a ton of money. Today I drove to Stowe, VT and climbed the highpoint of the state, Mt. Mansfield. At 4,393 ft. it is well under a thousand feet smaller than the other New England State highpoints but I believe the views from the summit rival all of them.

I picked up my father's car at around 9 in the morning and headed up North in what was becoming a beautiful sunny day. It took me about 3.5 hours to get all the way North on 89 toCimg2973
the small village of Stowe, VT. When I got to the mountain I found it still open for business with skiers coming down the few slopes that were still open. I always get funny looks in the parking lot when I start strapping on a backpack and tying my plastick mountaineering boots to my feet with gators on. I took my skiboards today just so I wouldn't have to have the extra weight of ski boots in my bag while climbing up the slope. They easily snap onto my plastic mountaineering boots for the trip down.
I decided to climb up a windy closed ski slope on the right side of the mountain to avoid the ski traffic and made very good time. Half of the hike up was over a trail covered with melting Cimg2984
moguls. The sun had come out and the temperature was pushing 60-65 degrees with the radiant heat reflecting off the snow into my face. I made it up to the top of the Gondola in about an hour and a half and stopped into a warming hut to ask the ski patrol where the herdpath to the ridge started. The guy looked at me like I was some city punk who was going to get himself killed up there. I reassured him that I was prepared and tried to flash my multiple "46er" patches on my bag so he could see them and realize I knew what I was doing but he didn't.
I quickly made it up the herdpath highway trampled through the woods to the ridge where I was met with 20-30mph wind gusts and a temperature drop of about 25 degrees. On the way
to the ridge I passed multiple large cliff drops that I had read about in ski magazines. One of them was nearly 40' from
the lip of the drop to the snow below. In a good snow winter these would be amazing to hit... I'll have to remember that when I come home to visit from Oregon. After putting on my shell pant and jacket, gloves and a winter hat I proceeded up the ridge to the top
of Mansfield.
Cimg2999 The view from the top was spectacular. I could see all of the Adirondack High Peaks in the distance over the long, narrow Lake Champlain
to the West and to the East I could see the
Presidential Range and Mount Washington in NH dominating the view over the White Mountains. To the South I could see the long narrow band of the Green Mountains stretching out before me all the way to the slopes of Killington which I had passed through in the morning on the way to Stowe. To the North was the Canada and very few significant mountains.
I stopped on the summit for a few minutes to call my parents and take some pictures. (very hard to set a camera on a timer up on a rock, then run to position in less than 10 seconds while hoping
Cimg3019the camera doesn't blow away). The rocky (western look) geological structure of Mansfield was amazing to see. The gondola ended in a nook of the Cimg3010mountain directly below a 300 sheer cliff and the ridge led south towards a rocky knob called the Nose. On the way down I passed a bunch of snowboarders heading up the ridge from the gondola. They had seen me climbing up the slopes and gave me a few nods. At the top I strapped on my ski boards and proceeded down the slushly slopes on tired, wobbly legs with very little control over the boards with my loose plastic mountaineering boots. I was able to ski down in about 15 minutes.
When I got to the bottom and was packing up the car I noticed the windshield had cracked in the sun... whoops... dad's not gonna like that one. Oh well. The drive back was uneventful and I ended up eating dinner with my dad after taking a shower at the rents. I headed out of there around 8:30 to make sure I made it back for the best show on TV - 24. And yes, Superman does where Jack Bauer Pajamas.


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