Giant & Rocky Peak Ridge (Winter)

Many of us in the northeast have been wondering when winter would arrive. The Adirondacks got their answer: December 27.

Overnight on Sunday, the valley got a nice dusting of snow, which coupled with the nearly-full moon made it bright enough to start my hike at 6:15 AM without a headlamp. It also made for a scenic ascent, and my tracks were the first on the new snow.

It had been warmer over the weekend than my 19° start, so I was able to “bare boot” it until just shy of the summit. The snow got progressively deeper on the steady climb but the water hadn’t yet frozen underneath. It wasn’t until about a quarter mile from the summit that I donned my Hillsounds Trail Crampons which I would wear for almost the rest of the hike.

The snowy summit of Giant Mountain at 8:15 AM was completely clouded in, but the wind was low making it beautifully quiet. I snapped a couple photos and quickly turned back to head towards Rocky Peak Ridge, hoping for it’s wonderful views.

The descent off the eastern face of Giant Mountain was steep and icy, but beautiful even in the clouds. So too was the summit of Rocky Peak Ridge, which was completely engulfed in white. I continued on towards Mary Louise Pond, where I stopped for some breakfast.

Clouds departing over Rocky Peak Ridge, seen from Giant Mt.
Clouds departing over Rocky Peak Ridge, seen from Giant Mt.

I waited in hopes of the clouds lifting, but gave up after an hour. It wasn’t until about an hour afterwards that the clouds finally left Rocky Peak, at least giving me the beautiful eastern vista on my way back to Giant.

Making my way back to Giant Mountain, I arrived just after noon to the same view I had four hours earlier. After missing the vista from Rocky Peak Ridge, I was determined to wait on Giant for its fabulous views. After another half hour, I finally caught a glimpse of the Great Range jutting from the undercast…and then it was gone just as quickly as it had come.

I made the descent in 1 hour and 40 minutes, in perfect time to head into Keene Valley for another breakfast. It was a great winter hike, and I was jealously happy for those who were hiking the following day, when winter was dropping another foot of snow. Winter has arrived!