View Full Version : Helmut's Ladder vertical, etc.

04-06-2015, 17:15
Hi all, I'm new to Whiteblaze and have been prep'ing for some longer section hikes on my local stretch of the AT, from Port Clinton to DWG, the northern border of the Lehigh Valley.

Halfway through there's a blue blaze trail that goes to Delps Spring and down to a parking lot. Just below the spring there's a long steep stone staircase that a maintainer once told me was called Helmut's Ladder, named for the man who pretty much made it on his own.

Anyway, that climb was tough today, much tougher than the southern part of Lehigh Gap which I did a few days ago.

On the trail I got to wondering how it compares to other tough verticals on the AT. It's about 800 feet in 2/3 of a mile, so adjusted about 1200 in a mile.

How does this compare? I'm trying to scope my training a bit.

Also, if anyone has more detail on Helmut and his efforts, I'd love to hear it.


04-07-2015, 09:01
Relatively steep, but relatively short, and the stairs are likely providing regular footing that many other steep sections of trail lack, particularly in NH and ME. That said, on a NOBO thru, you will be in great trail shape by the time you get up there. :)

04-07-2015, 09:28
Would the Lehigh Gap north climb be closer to the NH/ME ones (other than being short). I hear that's a tougher scramble.

Another Kevin
04-07-2015, 09:54
I don't have anything for you about Helmut, sorry!

Helmut's Ladder sounds like a tough spot for Pennsylvania. On the whole, the Pennsylvania A-T isn't all that hard. 600-800 foot elevation gains are typical, so after the 45 minutes you spend grunting and sweating your way up one, you get a nice break. (And yes, 800 feet up a 1:4 grade is enough to make most hikers grunt and sweat.) And you do get a long break, walking along a ridgetop until the Trail plunges into the next gap. The tough thing about Pennsylvania is that all the sandstone is sharp, and lies at crazy angles, so it's murder on the feet.

Is Helmut's Ladder the blue-blaze to the south just past Furnace Creek, where the A-T is detouring east to Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle? If so, that is really tough for Pennsylvania. 200 feet pretty much straight up a cliff at the top. If you were good with that, you'll be fine with the whole Pennsylvania section of the Trail.

The stuff Up North does get harder. On the north side of Moosilauke there's a section up Beaver Brook that climbs about 1600 feet in a mile of trail, and a lot of that is on slick, wet granite. (It's always wet. The ravine there is misty all the time from the waterfalls.) The trail around it isn't much of a break, either. The ascent from Kinsman Notch to the summit is just over 3000. That's the hardest part of the A-T in my book. The Mahoosucs, or the Wildcats, or Katahdin itself, might be more demanding, but the Mahoosucs are too much fun, the Wildcats distract you with the technical challenges of picking your hand- and footholds, and Katahdin... well, it's Katahdin!

04-07-2015, 13:27
AK, almost all of that slick granite on the Beaver Brook trail now has wooden steps attached with rebar, so it is almost cheating. Still steep enough to work up a lather, however. :)

04-07-2015, 20:34
AK, Helmut's Ladder is on a blue blaze most people wouldn't use ... only if someone had a car or really needed to go to Delps.

I haven't done the Pinnacle yet, but now I'm interested ;)

Beaver Brook sounds painful. My sore calf muscles groaned at the thought of 1600/mile.

Another Kevin
04-08-2015, 09:37
teefal - You didn't happen to have a GPS tracking your route on that Helmut's Ladder trip, did you?

If so, could I recruit you to put the trail into Open Street Map (http://openstreetmap.org/)? That way, those of us who are crazy enough to try to produce on-line hiking maps (https://kbk.is-a-geek.net/catskills/test3.html?la=40.8184&lo=-75.4502&z=14) (note that the link goes to the A-T near Delps) from public data will be able to pick it up and include it. Most of the Open Street Map trail data - indeed most of the map - has come from ordinary people with boots on the ground taking GPS tracks and entering them.

Oh, and the spring isn't shown either. A waypoint for the spring would help, too, and one for the parking lot.

04-08-2015, 12:33
Kevin: check rohland.org: the AT hike from Wind Gap going south to Lehigh Gap shows a GPS coordinate at the parking lot at the 10.6 mile point, where the Delps trail begins and heads north towards the AT. The lot apparently is difficult to find and a little remote. No other coordinates for the trail that I could discover, though.

04-12-2015, 07:39
Ak, will do.