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Baxter in Transition

In March I headed up to Chimney Pond with Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue with the goal of doing some ice climbing and training up on Katahdin. With the way the winter has been this year, we had some worries about the conditions leading up to the trip (and during it) but we managed to still explore up there.

Headed Up

We arrived to the park during a gloriously balmy day, the kind that isn't great for the ice climbing that we were looking to do. Basin pond was in much different shape this year, than when I crossed it last year. Again the rangers were able to give us a lift as far as Roaring Brook, but this year they were also able to bring our heavy gear up for us, so we had a nice climb in what felt to be around 50 degrees.

Basin Ponds

Upon arrival to Chimney Pond we set out to do some exploring to check the snow and ice conditions and to see if we would be able to climb.

Crossing Chimney Pond

After a scramble up Chimney Brook that threatened to leave our feet soggy we practiced self rescues below Pamola’s Fury. As we watched and practiced rescues, the flow of water down the sides of the mountain increased.

Self Rescue Location

Chimney Brook

As we made our way up into the South Basin we could see things were looking a little thin.

Looking up the Chimney

Watching ice and snow come down.

On our way back down Chimney Brook the water level had noticably increased and even those who had boots with waterproof zips were being extra cautious. Upon arrival at the Pond we found the water level deeper there too. Some of us charged right across, others wandered about the shore.

Wandering the margins of Chimney Pond

As much of the ice had crashed down around us, and what was left was threatening to do the same, we started the next day with some practice building V-threads using blocks of ice around the pond while we waited for conditions to get nicer up high.

Bob demonstraighting a V-thread

While we were practicing around the pond, the Waterfall route broke free and reminded us of how it got it's name. We decided that a prudent course of action would be to head up top and see where it's finding all that water.

Someday all this will fall down

The real reason that we headed up top was to work on replacing the summit sign.

Checking up on the beat up old gal

Instead of carrying the whole toolbox up the mountain, we took advantage of the day to scout and figure out just which tools we would need.

Percise measurement systems

With our mission up top completed I was able to enjoy a ski down the Saddle.

Saddle Buttress

The next morning we recieved a present from Ranger Rob.

Brown Delivers

We dragged the new sign back into our lair to examine closely and pack it up.

What are we gonna do with this

Ranger Rob sent his protege Russ with us as part of Mahoosuc's Adopt a Ranger program.

Gearing up

Then the trek to provide Pamola warrenty replacement began in ernest.

Heading back up the Saddle Trail with a heavy load


Up and over the Saddle trail the sign went.


Passing the Saddle Buttress

Let's head up there

New approaching old

'Hey, your shifts over. Go get yourself cleaned up.'

New sign arriving

One last picture.

Mahoosuc with Summit Sign

Break time

Break time

I believe we had the signs swapped in around 15 min.

Checking we brought the right wrench

After a quick installation it was time to head back down.

Turns out that the 'Please stay on trail' signs are fantastic ski racks.

Ski storage

I found some variable conditions in the next gully South of the Saddle trail.

Looking down

Looking further down

Pamola apparently approved of the new sign and cleared up for the evening.

A video posted by Alex Kerney (@abkfenris) on

With the trails down low melting out in the warm temps the next day was time to leave.

Little pond

Basin Pond was frozen for us, but was a little worrisome for the snowmobiles to cross, so we used the wind instead.

Crossing with the wind

After Basin Pond we were able to unload our gear onto a snowmobile and get a little more creative with our descent to Roaring Brook.

Alternative ways down.

A video posted by Alex Kerney (@abkfenris) on

Soon after we arrived at Roaring Brook Ranger Rob roared up with his snowmobile loaded for exploration.

Rob’s snowmobile

And out we went.

Bundled for the ride

A last glance through the trees.

Julek saying goodbye

Thanks to Julek for contributing some of the photos for this post, and to Baxter State Park and Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue for getting us on the mountain this winter.

Julek ascending the Saddle