A Bone Chilling Day: Pitchoff Mountain & Balancing Rocks

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous”


Pitchoff Mountain:

This is another mountain that is on the Lake Placid 9er Challenge. If you noticed from the recent blog, I wrote about Catamount Mountain. I’m trying to reach a winter 9er and a regular Lake Placid 9er. This climb is probably my third favorite on the list. Yes, the summit is completely wooded but the journey to the peak is beautiful. Since we did this after December 21st, it counted towards the winter challenge. Conditions were quite icy so I had to throw on the Kahtoola’s but it was a wicked day nonetheless. Anyways, lets get into the climb and I’ll break down Balancing Rocks too.

The Ascent:

Climbing along the trail, it was one of those mornings when your hands become numb quite quickly. This is why I always suggest bringing hand warmers and an extra pair of gloves are helpful too. The trail conditions were quite icy so as stated before, I had to throw on my Kahtoola’s which always come in handy. Unfortunately, you can become misguided through others tracks in the snow. This happened to us as two people thought they could scale these rock cliffs and they were on the trail. Without noting any trail signs, they were going off “instinct”. If there’s any word of advice I have, don’t go on winter treks if you struggle knowing if you’re on the trail or not. Luckily, we usually figure it out relatively quickly because we’d made our own mistakes starting off. It’s not as bad during the warmer months but obviously in the winter, you’re prone to more risk. After multiple times seeing these two people, we finally reached the summit of Pitchoff Mountain. Others ran onto these two at the trail and knew they didn’t research the hike as well. The people we met up with had a great sense of humor and eventually the five of us made our way down to Balancing Rocks.

Balancing Rocks

Walking out towards Balancing Rocks unveils a masterpiece of a landscape. The landscape I’m talking about is the MacIntyre Range, Colden, and Marcy in the distance. When I first visited these glacial erratics, it was close to when the leaves began to change. Seeing it in the winter always has incredible elements. The best scenes in my opinion were people standing on Cascade and ice climbing the Cascade Waterfall. I continuously shot in the direction of Cascade’s summit to give the sense of scale within the Adirondacks. This has become part of my mission with shooting photos in NY. I’m trying to bring to light that these aren’t merely hills that people are climbing. Hiking well over 25 High Peaks, I have an understanding of this subject. While shooting on Balancing Rock, my hands felt like cement blocks. The beauty of photography in the winter is your appreciation of such photos. Others don’t know the suffering you went through but it makes you grateful for that frame. Anyways, let’s get down to the details of this trek!


Pitchoff Mountain & Balancing Rocks

  • Full RT (7.8 miles according to AllTrails)
  • Elevation gain: 2,132 ft (according to AllTrails)
  • Out/Back trail
  • Family friendly
  • Dog friendly
  • Gear: I brought my Garmin inReach, Kahtoola’s, Gerber Knife, Food/Water, Balaclava, Bandana, Gaiters, Gloves, Beanie
  • Gradual climb
Fresh snowfall on the trail
More snowy scenes on the trail
Cold scenes close to Balancing Rocks
Hurricane Mountain as seen from Balancing Rocks
Scale of others standing on Cascade Mountain
Freezing time on Balancing Rocks

Thank You!

I truly appreciate it if you took the time to read this blog. I always try to include some of my thoughts about photography and adventure itself in these writings. I’m hoping that you found some helpful insights within this post. If there’s any ideas of blogs you’d like to see, feel free to let me know. Until next time, go climb that mountain!


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