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Caleb Strong, center, of Victor, stands inside the Berkeley Green gazebo in Saranac Lake with Loring Porter of Lake Placid, left, and Kyle Forbes Bissell, right, of West Salem, Mass. Strong was the first hiker to complete the village's Winter 6er Challenge Saturday. Porter, who was the first Saranac Lake 6er in May, took second place, and Bissell finished third. Photo: CHris Knight, courtesy <em>Adirondack Daily Enterprise</em>
Caleb Strong, center, of Victor, stands inside the Berkeley Green gazebo in Saranac Lake with Loring Porter of Lake Placid, left, and Kyle Forbes Bissell, right, of West Salem, Mass. Strong was the first hiker to complete the village's Winter 6er Challenge Saturday. Porter, who was the first Saranac Lake 6er in May, took second place, and Bissell finished third. Photo: CHris Knight, courtesy Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Winter 6ers battle weather across six peaks

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Dozens of hikers battled rain, snow, sleet and ice recently for the chance to become the first to hike the six mountains in the Saranac Lake area in winter in less than 24 hours.

Caleb Strong of Victor, near Rochester, was the first to cross the finish line and claim the title of first Winter Saranac Lake 6er. This was the second event put on by the village of Saranac Lake this year as part of its 6er hiking program, which is designed to boost tourism.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

Nine hours and 59 minutes. That’s how long it took 57-year-old Caleb Strong to hike Ampersand, Baker, Haystack, McKenzie, St. Regis and Scarface mountains and return to Saranac Lake’s Berkeley Green on the first day of winter. It’s also a new record time.

"It feels good; I have to admit it," Strong said. "I’ve still got a little bit of adrenaline going to be honest with you. My legs are shaking. I’ve got a tremendous blister on this heel.”

In May, when the village launched the 6er program with a similar race to hike all six peaks, Strong finished fifth. That challenge was won by Loring Porter of Lake Placid, who also competed in the Winter 6er competition and took second place, finishing exactly an hour after Strong.

Porter said the conditions made the winter race more challenging than the May 6er event.

"It was very rainy. About the same temperature, but the snow was a lot harder to run in," he said. "It was pretty challenging. It would have been nice to have been first, but I did the best I could and ran hard. (Strong) trained like a demon for this, so good for him."

A total of 68 people started the Winter 6er challenge, many of them hoping to finish all six mountains in less than 24 hours to become "Ultra 6ers." Twenty-three people did, including hikers from across the Northeast and Quebec.

Clyde Rabideau, Saranac Lake’s mayor, said the 6er program has been a huge success.

“We get Facebook comments and emails and letters from all over the country talking about their experiences doing the 6ers, and how it’s so much fun. It’s turned out to be a great program for tourism and for Saranac Lake exposure.”

Over 500 people have hiked all six mountains and registered their climbs with the village since the 6er program was launched in May.

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