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Written by Bob Marshall

Fourteen in One             Robert Marshall, July 16, 1932

Yesterday I ascended fourteen Adirondack peaks.  The details of my climbing are shown in the following table:

Location  Time Ascent
  Lv. JBL 3:30  
Big Slide 4:52 1900
JBL for Breakfast 5:39 - 6:00  
Lower Wolf  7:30 1900
Upper Wolf  8:16 600
Armstrong  8:48 500
Gothics  9:18 400
Saddleback  10:04 500
Basin  10:48 700
Haystack  12:07 1000
Marcy (lunch!)  1:30 - 1:54 1200
Skylight  2:40 600
Lake Colden  4:04 - 4:10  
Iroquois  6:07 2100
Algonquin  6:39 400
Wright  7:32 400
Adirondack Loj  9:15 - 9:30  
Mount Jo  10:00 - 10:10 700
Elev Gain on Boundary, Little Haystack, double summits of Upper Wolf, Armstrong, Gothics, Saddleback, Basin 700
Total time / elev: 18:40 13,600

Thus I have carried a little farther the fantastic pastime of record climbing, adding three to Malcolm's total of eleven. Perhaps within a few weeks, surely as soon as a few more mountains in the vicinity of Mount Marcy have trails cut on to them, somebody will readily enough overtop my record. Certainly it is a mark which any reasonably vigorous person in good physical condition can equal if he tries it when there are long daylight hours. In fact, it would fit perfectly in a class with flagpole sitting and marathon dancing as an entirely useless type of record, made only to be broken, were it not that I had such a thoroughly glorious time out of the entire day.

To begin with, the weather was absolutely perfect, one of those crystal clear days such as only occurs occasionally in an entire Adirondack summer. Furthermore, although I had already climbed each mountain from two to twelve times, the views seemed almost as fresh and exciting as on the first ascent, so splendid in fact, that any one peak was worthy of a long and tedious journey. Finally, seeing the view from fourteen different mountains all in one day gave me an excellent opportunity to appreciate the distinctive character of these Adirondack mountains, which made each summit leave an entirely different effect of delight.

From Big Slide I was chiefly impressed by the rising sun playing on the summits of the great range across Johns Brook, and then by the joy of running down hill at ,5: oo in the morning through the dewy raspberry bushes, and feeling how good it was to be young and able to feel sure you could climb fourteen mountains in a day.

The Lower Wolf Jaw showed the entire Johns Brook Valley bathed in the still early morning sunlight, looking so bright and cheerful that I couldn't help feeling a triumphant happiness. On Upper Wolf Jaw I recall especially the trail which violates almost every proper trail standard and is delightful for this very quality. It shoots straight up cliffs, stumbles over all sorts of tree roots, and skirts through narrow crevices among the rocks. All the time it shows the flora which at normal elevations is blooming a month earlier-goldthread, wood sorrel, twinflower, saxifrage and the shady freshness of the mountaintop forest of spruce and balsam and paper birch.

On Armstrong it was pleasant to walk out on the same ledge Herb and George and I had found eleven years ago before there was any trail on this mountain and see the same splendid horseshoe of high mountains which has remained in my mind ever since, with Armstrong and Big Slide at the two ends and the rocky cone of Marcy at the apex.

From Gothics I was particularly impressed yesterday by the two mountain masses, one of Giant and Rocky Peak Ridge, the other of the four successive tiers of Sawteeth, Colvin, Nippletop and Dix, which frame a vista of the Champlain Valley, while the Green Mountains beyond appeared so close that I had the feeling that I ought to be able to skip over in a couple of hours. From Saddleback, as always, there was the breath-taking sight of the overtowering rock needle of Gothics across Storrow Pass, with an almost sheer wall nearly a thousand feet high tumbling off on the south face of the peak. The views of the three undefiled valleys of Shanty Brook, Haystack Brook and Upper Johns Brook, all lying directly below me, gave the greatest exhilarations from Basin.  I had wondered whether, after three summers and a winter of exploration in Arctic Alaska, I could still recapture any of the sense of wilderness I had always gotten from Haystack. Gloriously enough, I did. It was still possible to forget the automobiles and machinery of the present in the vista from this rocky summit, from which only in the extreme distance could any signs of man's meddlesome ways be observed.

Marcy as always impressed me with the breadth of vision, encompassing as it does in its panorama practically the entire expanse of the Adirondacks except the extreme southern and western portions and being the only mountain from which all 46 of the 4,000 foot peaks are visible. But if this familiar delight was pleasant, it was exceedingly disconcerting to find the nearby slope of Mount Adams all scarred by logging operations, which I had supposed were ended in the high mountain region, while a great fire streak extended up the slope of North River Mountain. From Skylight a wall of virgin summits, extending from Iroquois to Dix and including all twelve of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks, filled the entire northern half of the panorama. It gave me an impression of massiveness which I do not recall from any other Adirondack mountain.

After Skylight there followed three splendid hours down Feldspar Brook and the Opalescent, around Lake Colden, and up the steep grade to the height-of-land of the MacIntyre range. All but half an hour of this journey was through the most inspiring sort of virgin spruce slope forests. Then came Iroquois, from which the magnificently wild country north of Wallface seemed even darker and less explored than usual when backed by the late afternoon sun. In the middle of these black mountains the waters of Scott Pond and Upper Wallface were sparkling in the sunlight. MacIntyre showed the rolling mountains which culminate in the Marcy-Skylight divide all light and cheerful as the setting sun shone directly on their western flanks. The usually dark streaks on Colden between the rock slides were just as bright as could be. After a strenuous tussle with windfall and mountain balsam, the trailless summit of Wright was reached just as the sun was dipping behind the distant mountains north of Street, and the entire panorama, including the nearby slope of MacIntyre, the Marcy Range, the mountains back of South Meadows, and the fields of North Elba, was tinted by a reddish purple glow.

Mount Jo, ascended with the aid of flashlights, made an ideal climax. Northward Lake Placid was a host of lights twinkling beyond an extensive plain. Southward and westward towered the pitch black mass of Marcy, Colden, MacIntyre, Wallface and Street, while right at our feet the almost full moon was reflected in the waters of Heart Lake. All around a heavy mist was rising from the streams and meadows, giving everything an appearance as unreal as this entire perfect day had been to the normal world of twentieth century mechanization.

In concluding this account of a great day, I want to mention that Herb Clark met me on top of Marcy with luncheon and his usual uproarious humor. In addition to Marcy Herb also went over Maclntyre and Wright with me, which was quite a day's activity for a man of sixty-two. Eugene Untermyer accompanied me on the flashlight ascent of Mount Jo. When I got down from this last peak Jed Rossman gave me the kindest sort of reception, and Elise Untermyer had a most delicious supper awaiting, which tasted doubly excellent after nearly seventeen hours since my last warm food, which Mrs. Hanmer had served that morning at Johns Brook Lodge.

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