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  1. #1

    The Trilogy 03-07-12

    I wasn’t going to post this report till I came back and finished The Trilogy. Well winter decided to make me wait till next season and my black toe with no sensitivity told me to wait till next season. Then Joe Szot died yesterday and I felt like I should finish writing it in honor of him.

    I had been planning on soloing The Trilogy in the Adirondack’s since climbing the alpine ice route Agharta WI 4- in Panther Gorge on the southeast side of Mt. Marcy earlier in the year. In fact that was one of the reasons for going back into Panther Gorge to climb Agharta. I was pretty curious as to what was actually back in that location. I was pretty curious as to what kind of fucking insanity lay back in the middle of that unknown hell hole. Well now that I know the bushwhacking is totally heinous, you are very secluded, the postholing sucks and an accident will make your life a living hell. I said “fuck it, it seems like a brilliant day all alone.” That knowing had driven me to some pretty sleepless nights leading up to my little endeavor.

    12:32am Tuesday 03-06-12 is another sleepless night. It’s been about a week of waking up at 2:00am every night. My mind will not allow me to rest easy knowing what I am about to embark on. The knot in my stomach is twisted big time. I got my ass handed to me leading The Advocate in the Black Chasm earlier day before. My focus was not on climbing WI5. I fall back asleep around 3:30am Tuesday 03-06-12 and then wake up again at 4:30am for good. I’m not leaving for the Adirondacks until 10:00pm that night for a 1:30am start Wednesday 03-07-12 from The Garden in Keene Valley. The clock ticks ever so slowly right now. The waiting to not stop moving to wish I could stop moving is driving me mad.

    The Trilogy is the brain child of Adirondack local Joe Szot. The Trilogy is basically this in a nutshell. Hike 6 miles to the base of Gothics 4736ft, +2200 gain. Climb the North Face of Gothics-1000ft WI2 snow/ ice. Hike to Saddleback 4515ft-1.1 miles from Gothics,-750 col +600. Hike to Basin 4827ft-1.5 miles from Saddleback, -400 col+600. Hike to Little Haystack 4662ft-1.3 miles from Basin,-1050 col+700. Hike to Mt Marcy/Haystack col-1 mile from Little Haystack to start of bushwhack, -450 col. Bushwhack 1 mile to base of Grand Central Couloir. Climb the Grand Central Couloir-1500ft WI3+ snow/ ice climb to Mt. Marcy 5344ft-summit. Hike 6 miles from the Mt Marcy summit to base of Trap Dike/Avalanche Lake. Climb the Trap Dike with 2000ft-WI2+ snow/ ice to the Mt Colden 4714ft-summit. Than finally hike 7.6 miles back to the Adirondack Loj, -2535 to Loj. As Emily Drinkwater described it to me in an email, it’s arduous.

    I soloed The North Face of Gothics in the pitch black of the morning. I thought the full moon would aluminate it enough to cruise the route. Wrong!!! Small wind driven avalanches came down on me while I battled to get through the deep snow. Suddenly finding religion, I asked my new higher power to not let me die in an avalanche. No turning back now, the only way to get to safety is to go up. I stalled at a small group of alpine saplings, waiting for the sun to raise enough so I could make out the route definition better. I needed to decipher a safe line to the summit. The wind cranked hard the entire time I climbed. I drove the tools into the ice when the gusts blew in order to not get picked up and blown off the route. I was nervous about taking an 800 foot slide back to the base of the climb. Once I summited, an hour later than what I expected I had to crawl on all fours to get to the cables. The wind gusts must have been close to 70mph. Exhausted, I started to make my way down to the col between Gothics and Saddleback.

    The fresh snow the High Peaks had received prior to my arrival proved to be the nail in the coffin for me. I knew once I summited Gothics my opportunity to crush The Trilogy was fading. I post holed and broke trail from Gothics over Saddleback, Basin, Haystack, and on to Mt. Marcy. The 2-3 feet of new snow slowed me down considerably. I was in shape, mentally ready, climbing well enough and I had done my homework but the snow conditions made the day undoable. Once I reached Haystack I finally reserved myself to the fact that I was now hiking for the rest of the day. The sight of the rollerball avalanches from the warm weather on Grand Central sealed the deal for me from the summit of Little Haystack. Oh yea and the postholing. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!!!!” I thought to myself.

    Oddly though, I never really felt like I had failed at anything during the day. Usually I get a little upset with myself at not accomplishing what I set out to do climbing wise. The weather was beautiful, the snow was clean and each summit I reached brought wonderful views of one of my favorite venues. I was alone and enjoying everything in my life that I live for. I had one of the most remarkable days exploring the Adirondacks. I went to places I had never been too before. I looked at views I had never seen before. The sun warmed my face all day. Just stepping my foot out of the car door at 1:30am to start The Trilogy was the most satisfying feeling of accomplishment. I was inspired by others to push myself in a direction that I thought was about finding out what the body can take mentally and physically. It was really about celebrating what the vast beauty this Adirondack mountain chain has to offer. I realized The Trilogy is a day about giving your inner self a chance to recharge it batteries again. It’s about liberating your soul and letting it breath fresh air into its lungs. It’s a day about opening your third eye and allowing it to see the clarity life has to offer.

    Thanks for your imagination Joe.

  2. #2
    Kicker and Chopper
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Saranac Lake, NY
    Breaking trail is the number one thing, that if you have to do it, makes the Trilogy so rigorous. The next is probably bushwacking/route finding in Panther Gorge. Then the last is just having the lungs and legs to will yourself up the Trap Dyke when you know that the Loj is only 6 miles away. On my Trilogy attempt in March 2011 we had to break trail thru knee deep snow from before the top of Saddleback all the way to Lake Colden! We also got lost for 3+/- hours bushwacking in Panther Gorge and ended up climbing a slide that did not top out on Marcy and had to bushwack around 1000 ft to the summit. When we finally got to Avalanche Lake it was still light and the Trap Dyke looked to be in great shape. But the thought of possibly having to break trail off of the summit of Colden back to the Apas Ski Trail/Hiking Trail junction was just too much and we called it. So what did we learn? Make sure there is no new snow and the trails are packed out, know how to find the base of the Grand Central and that with an imagination the Adirondacks can provide a challenge just as great as anywhere else in the world! I will second what Mountain Skills said ^above^... Thanks Joe for concocting something that climbers will forever now attempt to achieve!

  3. #3
    Member Crag's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Waiting 4 Conditions 2 Improve
    Mtn skills - great read. Thanks for posting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    concord nh
    I agree Crag... Mountain Skills, not only is your post enjoyable to read, I could see and feel your day. Conveying to others an experience through written words, any experience, is hard. Getting us to feel your day in the High Peaks while traversing the Trilogy, very hard. Nice job on both the experience you had and the writing of it.

    Taking the first steps of a long day, in the dark and alone is almost beyond words. It's like the one instrument, playing solo at the start of a long and brilliant song. For Joe, The Other One.

    Thanks to both Mtn.Skills & Will R.

    I'm on the lamb, but I ain't no sheep

  5. #5
    Member KZKlimber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Glen Haven Co
    I sat on top of Gothics last week after a training climb and tried to imagine the Trilogy looking over towards Marcy and Colden. The distance and terrain are daunting for sure - it takes tremendous stamina, skill, and mental toughness to even set out on such a journey. Just making the attempt is commendable.

  6. #6
    this looks like a spectacular combo. I'll hopefully be attempting at some point later this season.

    it certainly looks to be a solo route, but if anyone wants to join for a team I'd be interested in looking at the feasibility!

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