FacebookTwitterInstagram Youtube
Adirondack Explorer

Categories:
Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Adirondack slide is challenging

Aerial view of the 1999 slide (wide one on left) and 2011 slide (narrow one to its right) on Little Colden. Photo by Phil Brown.

Aerial view of the 1999 slide (wide one on left) and 2011 slide (narrow one to its right) on Little Colden. Photo by Phil Brown.

Hikers going to Avalanche Lake might be tempted to explore the new slide in Avalanche Pass. It starts right off the trail, ascends for a full mile, and offers wide vistas that take in a dozen or so High Peaks.

The slopes sharply to the climber's left. Photo by Phil Brown.

The slide slopes sharply to the climber’s left. Photo by Phil Brown.

However, it is considerably more dangerous than your average slide and should not be undertaken unless you have plenty of experience on slides or in rock climbing.

I first visited the slide a week ago and saw how steep it is. I returned on Saturday with rock-climbing shoes and ascended the whole thing, then bushwhacked to the beautiful summit of Little Colden.

Even with rock-climbing shoes, I lost my nerve on a steep (and wet) section near the top. I had to down-climb and find an easier route up.

The difficulty of the slide lies not in its elevation gain. 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 you climb.

A small stream runs between the slide and steeper terrain (small cliffs) on the left. The easiest, safest way to ascend the slide would be to stay next to the stream, but I suspect many climbers will want to get out on the clean white rock in the middle of the slab. Those who do should expect to encounter steep rock when climbing away from the stream.

I measured the slope angle in numerous spots. It usually was in the vicinity of 35 degrees, but it frequently topped 40 degrees and on occasion approached 50 degrees. I employed a variety of rock-climbing techniques, such as laybacking, stemming, toe jamming, and of course smearing.

Toward the top, the slide loses its leftward tilt, but the forward slope remains quite steep. About 0.7 miles up, I found myself on a wet 45-degree slab in the middle of the slide. It appeared that the slope would soon steepen, and I started to worry about falling. I carefully down-climbed, traversed to the edge of the slide, and continued my ascent. At the very top, I picked up an old and parallel slide for a short distance.

Overall, I’d say the difficulty is comparable to the Eagle Slide on Giant, which is considered a fourth-class climb. At least the way I climbed the new slide. Because I wore rock-climbing shoes, I did not seek the path of least resistance. Indeed, I welcomed rather than avoided the technical moves and steep friction climbing demanded by the route I chose.  If you take on this slide, I recommend you wear rock shoes as well—not only for security, but also for the fun. A helmet also would be a good idea.

At the top of the slide, I bushwhacked through nasty stuff to the ridge, where the woods opened up a bit, providing occasional views of Mount Marcy, Gothics, and Giant. I followed the ridge south to Little Colden’s summit, with its magnificent vista. The photo below, taken from Little Colden, shows the new slide on Mount Colden that begins at the Trap Dike. The entire bushwhack was 0.35 miles.

The drainage of the slide I climbed lies between Avalanche Pass Slide created by Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Otis Gully. I’m not sure if the drainage has a name. Perhaps it was skied by someone sometime and given a nickname, but it does not appear in The Adirondack Slide Guide by Drew Haas. Given that the slide and nearby terrain resemble an open book, with a crease in the middle, I thought Crease Monkey would be an apt name to distinguish it from the first Avalanche Pass slide.

Little Colden offers a view of  the new Trap Dike slide on Mount Colden. Photo by Phil Brown.

Little Colden offers a view of the new Trap Dike slide on Mount Colden. 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.

6 Responses

  1. Alan Gregory says:

    Paul, note the mention of the cougar and the Adirondacks in the latest “Around the Campfire” column by Dave Foreman: https://mail.google.com/mail/#inbox/1328eb8cde8df8c1

  2. Little Birdie says:

    Phil.

    This slide is commonly known as the Colden Couloir. It has been there for decades, but obviously got blown out last month.

    …and yes it has been skied for years, but never advertised on the interwebs before.

  3. Phil says:

    Thanks for letting us know about the name. I had heard it been skied in the past. It’s definitely changed a lot, as most of the bedrock is freshly exposed.

  4. Another little birdie says:

    Stop trying to make aname for yourself by renaming things that have had names 20 years before the slide guide ever came out, webhole!

  5. Phil says:

    Little Birdie, I lack supernatural powers. Therefore I do not know what pieces of bare rock were skied 30 years ago unless I read about it or unless someone tells me. Birdie said this particular place is known as Colden Couloir. That’s fine with me.

Leave a Reply