In 1925, brothers Robert and George Marshall, with friend and guide Herbert Clark, became the first to climb all of the 46 highest peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. Since that time, many more have followed in their footsteps, and an organization known as the Adirondack 46ers maintains the list of those to reach every summit.
At ChaseDesign LLC, there is an active group pursuing the 46er distinction. Andy leads with 43 peaks and 3 left to go. He chose to start his quest with five peaks in one day; he would not do that again. His favorite moment: Reaching the summit of Mount Marcy, the tallest peak, in the month of September and discovering a patch of snow just big enough for one snowball, which found its way to an unsuspecting co-worker. On his first wedding anniversary, Andy took his wife to the summit of Algonquin; on the hike back down, it was only the promise of a lobster dinner in Lake Placid that kept her speaking to him.
Jon has 41 peaks; his first was Mount Haystack, named for its shape, part of a three-peak trip in July of 2004 that also included Basin and Saddleback. He has 5 peaks, to go. He remembers Big Slide as the most fun, an easy climb with a tremendous summit view of the entire Great Range: Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin, Haystack and Marcy.
Andy and Jon agree on the most challenging peak thus far: Saddleback. To reach the summit, climbers scale a sheer rock face at a 45 degree angle, with no hand holds, no ropes, just “trust in your boots.” And once you’re at the top, you realize it’s easier to go up than down. Jon notes, “This one is real bad if you have a fear of heights, because you can see a long, long way down.”
The most surreal experience: Whiteface. After a long, tough hike, the group was confronted at the summit by neatly dressed tourists who had driven to the peak. The hikers then had to thread their way through a yoga class meditating to ethereal music from a laptop. There was one benefit to the abrupt return to civilization: a vending machine with bottled water.
Jonathan, another Chase hiker, didn’t mind the tourists and counts Whiteface as his favorite. “It was the steepest climb; I love a challenge.”
Dave’s first climb was Gothics, where cables are strung to lead and help climbers up the raw rock. For part of the climb, the hikers were in the rain, and then they climbed up into the rain cloud itself. Dave has 12 peaks, and looks forward to more.
Chris notes, “Having the Adirondacks so close and being able to enjoy them outside of work as a group has been a real joy.” Among his favorite experiences: pre-climb power breakfasts and post-climb polar plunges.
Tanner has 21 peaks, and climbs partly for the sense of accomplishment. “You hike so long, and so hard. At the top, you feel like you’ve earned the view.” For Peter, it’s that simple. “I climb for the view. It’s the only way you can get it.”