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.
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.”
The view from a winter summit is something to behold, Evans said.
“The weather is great right now. It’s beautiful up there. The weather on Saturday looks to be warmer than it has been.”
Saranac Lake Village Clerk Kareen Tyler said more than 50 hikers pre-registered to hit the trails.
Hikers can sign up online until 4 p.m. today for a $20 registration fee.
Registration also opens from 5 to 6 a.m. Saturday at the Berkeley Green.
“Most of the village trustees will be here to help,” Tyler said.
AT THE BELL
Assemblyman Dan Stec, himself a 6er, plans to be in the village for the Winter 6er launch.
Registration on Saturday is $25.
The shotgun sounds at 6 to start the winter climbing event. And all climbers must start at Berkeley Green, not at the trailheads. Finishers return to Berkeley Green to ring the bell. Event staff will be at the bell from 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday and at 6 a.m. Sunday.
Detailed information about the Winter Kickoff and recommended gear is online at saranaclake6er.com and on the Saranac Lake 6er Facebook page.
Email Kim Smith Dedam:email@example.com