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Monday, September 12, 2011

Climbing the new slide on Wright Peak

Josh Wilson approaches the final pitch of the new slide on Wright Peak. Photo by Phil Brown.

Josh Wilson approaches the final pitch of the new slide on Wright Peak. Photo by Phil Brown.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd created two slides on Wright Peak that have proved popular with hikers and skiers. Irene has created a third—and much longer—slide next to those two, providing easy access to the others as well a new skiing/hiking route.

Josh Wilson and I climbed the slide from top to bottom on Sunday. It’s almost exactly a mile long. Finding the slide was quick and easy. From the Memorial Lean-to (named in honor of Ed Hudowalski, an early Forty-Sixer) near Marcy Dam, we bushwhacked a quarter-mile, heading south of west, and came out on the base of the slide.

Looking down

Looking down the slab. Photo by Phil Brown.

The first part of the slide is mostly clean rubble—white rocks of varying sizes. In the early going, we did maneuver around downed trees occasionally, but overall the hiking was easy and enjoyable.

A quarter-mile up the slide we passed through a small canyon with twenty-foot-high walls. “This’ll be wild to ski in the winter,” Josh said. “Shoot the chute!”

That is, if it doesn’t fill with ice.

After a little under a half-mile, the slide split. The left fork looked cleaner, so we went up that and soon encountered a massive wall of trees. It appeared impassable, so we cut over to the right fork. After threading through downed trees and tromping through mud, we made our way to steep bedrock.

We recommend that you take the right fork when you reach the split. You’ll encounter some trees at first, but after working through them, you’ll find clean bedrock on the right side of the fork.

After a short distance, the forks join, creating a wide slab of steep bedrock.  The right half of the slab is fairly clean, but the left side has a lot of mud and fallen trees. Over the next 0.3 miles, to the top of the slide, we gained 650 feet in elevation. To give you an idea of the steepness, a hiker climbing such a slope for a full mile would gain 2,165 feet. In contrast, a hiker climbing Cascade Mountain from Route 73 gains 1,940 feet over 2.4 miles.

Aerial shot of the Angle Slide. Photo by Phil Brown.

Aerial shot of the Angle Slide, located right of the Angel Slides. Photo by Phil Brown.

The new slide is separated from the other two slides by a narrow strip of woods. Come winter, skiers will be able to visit all three in a single outing, and when they’re ready to leave they can descend via the new slide almost to Marcy Dam. In the past, skiers returned to the dam through the woods.

The older slides are called the Angel Slides, in memory of Toma Vracarich, a backcountry skier killed in an avalanche in 2000.  It occurred to me that a good name for the new slide would be the Angle Slide, given the sharp turn that the slide takes.

But Josh and I do not have naming rights. On the way up, we noticed footprints, so we were not the first up the slide. We also found a cup and a water bottle high on the slab. It’s hard to believe that wilderness hikers, perhaps the first ascenders, would leave litter on a brand-new slide.

Irene created many new slides in the High Peaks. Aficinados love slides because they provide wild and rugged routes up our mountains. Let’s keep them free of litter.

Josh hikers over rubble on the lower part of the slide. Photo by Phil Brown.

Josh hikers over rubble on the lower part of the slide. Photo by Phil Brown.

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

2 Responses

  1. New Adirondack slide is challenging @ says:

    […] It gains 1,160 feet over its length—less than the new slide on Wright Peak (which I call the Angle Slide). Rather, the difficulty lies in its double fall line: the slide is sharply tilted to the left as […]

  2. […] Wright Peak. ADK, High Peaks, Hiking, Slide climbing Irene   […]

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