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December 20, 2013

6 winter peaks lure climbers

SARANAC LAKE — There are 11 of 12 Ultra-Saranac Lake 6er hikers vying Saturday for winter titles.

The top 12 topped six peaks in 24 hours last spring.

And most are coming back for more.

The Winter 6er is the cold-weather version of the 6er initiative launched by the Village of Saranac Lake last spring. 

The Winter 6er Kickoff challenge begins at 6 a.m. Saturday, allowing climbers 24 hours to summit six peaks surrounding the village.

But winter hiking is a different sport altogether.

And Mount Baker, Haystack, St. Regis, Scarface, Ampersand and McKenzie trails are laden with snow and ice.

ICE AND SNOW

Nearly 500 hikers have finished all six peaks since the 6er program was announced last May.

But the 12 who reached all peaks in 24 hours on the first weekend earned Ultra-6er titles.

Village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans is the number 7 Ultra-6er.

He admits winter conditions change the game.

The Winter 6er title can be accomplished throughout the winter, he assured.

“But to be a Winter 6er in the top Ultra-6er group, hikers have to start at 6 a.m. Saturday and finish by 6 a.m. on Sunday,” Evans said.

He climbed McKenzie on Tuesday, despite the bitter temperatures, to place the punch can on top.

Hikers achieving each peak have to punch a registration card there to verify the summit.

And each punch is different.

50 PRE-REGISTERED

Organizers caution winter hikers to dress for conditions. Crampons or snowshoes are required for winter climbing in the Adirondacks.

And beyond Ultra 6er distinction given this weekend, the field is open.

“Winter hiking is a different animal,” Evans said.

“It’s going to be a great day. I think my goal is to do three of them on Saturday, maybe four. Then I’m going to get tired. 

“Then my goal is to finish the rest in two or three weeks.”

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