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Dix Mountain Lobster Claw Slide: New in 2013

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  • Dix Mountain Lobster Claw Slide: New in 2013

    DISCLAIMER

    Specifics:
    Date Climbed: 2013 August 10
    Mileage/Elevation Gain/Duration: 13 miles/4,250 feet (both slides/exit over Beckhorn)/12 hours
    Temperature: 50-70 Fahrenheit
    Partners: Nangaparbat
    Route: Elk Lake trailhead to Beckhorn Trail – Bushwhack from 3,100 feet elevation to slide – Slide - Exit to ridge and back over Beckhorn.
    Slide (from northern runout bottom) Elevation/Length: about 950 feet/3,000 ground feet
    Benchmarks: Begin: 8:10 a.m., Begin Bushwhack: 10:50 a.m., Slide runout: 12:00 p.m., Top of North Run: 2:20 p.m., Top of South Run: 3:15 p.m.; Finish Hike: 8:00 p.m.

    Pictures
    Video:



    Intro/Thoughts

    I topped Santanoni’s East (Twin) Slide on Monday, August 5th. While scanning to the east something seemed amiss in the panorama. Two white scars, partially hidden behind one of Dix’ western ridges, painted what looked like the side of the southern ridge (between the Beckhorn and Hough). I pushed it to the back of my mind at first. The next day, I grew curious and scanned a few photos from trip reports on the forum. Comparing June and July photos from Hough confirmed that Dix had a new slide added to its already extensive collection. Time to explore!

    Few things in life are more completely satisfying than exploring a wilderness unknown, especially if it’s newly created. Irene created vast amounts of new territory to play upon. This new creation on Dix reinvigorated the excitement I felt nearly two years ago when I was in the backcountry. This time, I didn’t have as much information ahead of time…no aerial photos or easily accessed line-of-sight vantage points. It stoked my curiosity to a feverish level.

    Based on the current satellite imagery the slides (not surprisingly) followed along the same course as ancient slides that had regrown with mature forest. As a point of reference based on currently available satellite imagery, the release point for the northern run began between two 15 foot runs of old-exposure ledges at roughly 4,220 in elevation. The ledges are clearly visible on flashearth.

    Parking and the Approach
    I arrived at the Elk Lake parking lot around 7:00 a.m.; it was full by 7:10 and NP was still en route. At least a dozen cars looked at the lot only to be turned away in hopes of finding a place miles back down the road before the gate. When NP arrived we got creative and found him a spot.

    Fast forward a bit to our arrival at the Beckhorn Trail intersection a bit over four miles from the trailhead. We needed to climb an additional 850 or so feet before beginning what I hoped would be a the path of least resistance to the runout of the slide—wherever that started. I felt a bit under the weather wasn’t really in the mood to navigate the stream confluences leading up into the area.

    At 3,100 feet we reached my target where the trail becomes nearly flat atop the ridge. We embarked right on a perpendicular course to the right. I’d never bushwhacked here and looked forward to seeing the area. Rotten blowdown and moderate growth with the occasional glacial erratic seemed to be the rule. The cool rain of the day prior was still on the branches of the trees.

    Once on the other side of the ridge, a heading of 62 degrees true (or 76 magnetic) led us on a counterintuitive route on contour along the ridge. This will change slightly depending on how you exit the ridge. I was just guessing at the location of the runout since I didn’t know how far it had torn down the valley. En route, the forest vacillated between loosely knit and enjoyable to more tightly knit sections of balsam. I fought the instinct to descend rather than continue on contour. My heading did, indeed, vary a bit as we worked around obstacles so I looked for visual cues to reaffirm our location. (This became ever more important each time NP reminded me that if we got lost it would be my fault ). The first positive sign was a 10 foot wide stream flowing down from the left. We looked up its streambed and saw the Beckhorn was still far away. …but what a place to relax!

    Runout
    After a bit more bushwhacking, we began to see some slides reflecting brightly in the late morning sun. They were too broad for our target…Hough. I didn’t expect to be quite as close as we were. “C’est la vie.” We needed to readjust in order to climb north of a smaller ridge between Hough and Dix. I changed the bearing to 60 degrees magnetic. Ten minutes later we found a few small snags of mud and pine needles in another small streambed. A bit farther uphill was a narrow toe of rubble. NP’s excitement rose while I kept mine to a dull roar until I was comfortable that we weren’t following the drainage of some minor slide. The bed opened wider with freshly exposed stone all around; this all fit what I’d hoped. Pure luck found us at the first signs of the slide. (Another runout of the same slide set lies a bit farther to the southeast). The bushwhack of a bit over about ½ mile had taken about one hour or four from the trailhead. The time stood at noon.


    Kevin walking up the slide...almost there. This is quite the runout!

    I found the first item of geological interest just upstream--a stone with what looked like the remnants of a 3” geode with either clear quartz or calcite crystals. Slightly higher, it was all about the views as it widened more and more. To the rear, Elk Lake was framed by the deeply gouged stream bed. We were also on an even elevation with an unabashed view of Hough’s magnificent slides. The best perch seemed to be atop of a 15 foot pile of trees some with their leaves still green, though wilted.

    The runout itself became more and more impressive as we ascended. It’s not as long as some from Irene, but the terrain and volume of debris that tore through the area cut a humbling track. Most of it seemed pretty well consolidated, but I was careful of what I tugged and walked on. We were far from help and about 5.5 miles from the trailhead.

    The direction shifted rather sharply around an island of tall softwoods. The relative streambeds from each slide (2) were close enough to each other on either side to obliterate the forest between. After climbing a large rubble pile, a full view up to the top of the southern tributary unfolded. It was expansive, dramatic and simply breathtaking. The first major outcrop of slab under the southern tributary was underfoot at about 3,750 feet in elevation. Scrambling another couple hundred feet of debris, we found a comfortable ledge and took a long break to eat and discuss our climbing strategy.


    Kevin looking up the southern run.

    Northern Tributary
    NP and I walked over to the thinner (northern) track as our first climb. It was the shorter run with about 300 vertical feet of slab. From the bottom, we eyed the line of clean stone and put on rock climbing shoes. It was slightly concave. At the time, it simply meant that the top would have the steepest, most exposed climbing. Almost the entire track is on granular anorthosite with a small amount of debris. The traction was incredible.


    NP working his way up. About 150 or so feet above the base.

    Friction, pockets from differential weathering of the slab, overlaps, ledges, dikes and fractures all made for a relaxing climb. The largest ledge toward the middle of the ascend is about 4 feet high. Many of the features are quite photogenic especially with the sun casting shadows and Beckhorn over your shoulder to the north. NP hooted and hollered a bit (well all the way from the bottom) with excitement. It just doesn’t get any better than exploring new territory!

    As mentioned, the most exposed climbing was at the headwall where the stone changed considerably. A steep climb with small remnants (very small) of moss led up to a tiny shelf of unfallen debris. Above on the headwall, it’s all about climbing on small holds with a bit of grit. The slope is about 45 degrees with some short steeper sections.


    Climbing a small ledge en route to the steep fun climbing.

    It was about this time that I began to feel very odd. My stomach quivered and I couldn’t find a comfortable stance. I was shifty. NP picked up on this and said, “You seem nervous…relax.” It was good advice, but I wasn’t particularly nervous though I felt the empty air below—something I’ve become very used to. I knew I wasn’t at 100 percent, so perhaps I was being too careful? In any case, I focused and all ended well. The situation exemplified that feeling a little off in the beginning can amplify as the day wears on or things get dicey. (NP categorized the headwall climbing as high 4th class/low 5th class).

    The run tapers to a fine point where we exited right into the woods at about 2:20 p.m. Looking to the west was breathtaking . There was a full view down Dix’ long ridge from the Beckhorn and unoccluded perspective of the slide track winding toward Elk Lake.

    The next “problem” was the descent. We exited to the south down some ledges via the woods to avoid the headwall …about 50 feet. Afterward, we simply down-climbed the remainder before heading over to the south.


    Getting steeper, but not quite at the headwall.


    Final few feet of the headwall where the pitch lays back a bit. Beckhorn in the background.

    Southern Track
    While the northern side is a slightly tapering straight line, the southern is wide by comparison, say 75’ across. It then tapers to a narrow curving tip that reaches about 40 feet higher up the ridge than its partner. It’s not quite as steep and harbors considerably more debris. The danger on this side primarily lies in dislodging small (or large) stones on your partner.

    Our ‘lunch ledge’ as at the bottom; just above sat the main run of slab climbing. It turned out to be a bit less granular than the adjacent stone to the north. Good friction climbing on the moderately angled slab led up to the first significant section of mud. The longest line on stone was along the left-hand edge. Above the mud was the most challenging portion, still (in my opinion) easier than the northern run.

    Blocky ledges with good holds and less exposure led to the top. You can take more exposed routes in the center to climb the most dominant ledge. Still feeling ‘off’, I chose a conservative run on the side. The last 50 or so feet offered good traction, but has a lot of loose stones lying about. We cleaned the largest one off, but thousands of smaller ones still remain (we didn’t bring a shovel!!). It was 3:15 when we reached the top for a well-earned break.


    Good slab on the lower section.


    Above the majority of debris approaching the ledges at the top.

    Exit
    Obviously, there was no herd-path through the thick krummholz to the ridge—this was too new. It was a blessedly short bushwhack to the path, one that took a mere 5 minutes up about 75 feet of elevation gain.

    My original intent was to summit Hough and take the Lillian Brook path down, but I was hell-bent on finding a good view of the slide from afar. Climbing the Beckhorn was worth every bit of energy especially since the journey up was riddled with views and the day was pristine. The top of the Beckhorn yielded an unadulterated perspective of the entire track with Hough, Grace and Elk Lake in the background. As we wound down the snaking ridge, the runout disappeared from sight. The slides, however, were lit up in full glory as the sun shone directly on them. From a direct view, they almost perfectly resemble a lobster claw…an extremely large one!
    Last edited by mudrat; 08-13-2013, 08:19 PM.
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

    www.adirondackmountaineering.com

  • #2
    Thanks MR & NP for this excellent trip report of your exploration of the new slides! The description and photos are top notch.

    Recent photos show the claw visible July 21, yet not evident June 22. Forum folks who shot photos from the Beckhorn, Allen, Red, Sky, Hay, Pinnacle Ridge or Hough during that date range should be able to narrow the slide date further...
    .
    Last edited by SummitHat; 08-13-2013, 07:16 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      A Special Request

      Hello, if you have a picture of the south side of the Dix range taken between june 21st and july 21st could you please post it or at least advise on this thread on the date the pic was taken and if you saw the new slide or not, we are trying to narrow to the exact date this slide was created.

      For myself , I would not be surprised that it was created on friday july 19th since on that day we suffered the worst thunderstorm of the summer (I went out of electricity for 10 hours on that day and some people went without for 4 days....)

      Thanks to all for your help, trying to solve this question.
      Last edited by nangaparbat; 08-13-2013, 07:41 AM.
      8000m 0/14

      Comment


      • #4
        Unbelieveable...... To go out on and climb the santa slide while spotting a new slide and then to climb it a few days later is what I call a true Adirondack explorer.

        Your excitement must have been electric, like a hunt for buried treasure. Great work on finding and documenting this new slide as well.
        Christmas in July. lol
        The greatest precept is continual awareness.

        Comment


        • #5
          I know that feeling of being a little "off". I was on a traverse in Colorado - I thought I was on the right route and crossed a face on a narrow ledge. When I got to the other side of it I realized just how uncomfortable and exposed it had been. Then I realized the ledge ended abruptly and was forced to recross the section I had been uncomfortable with. It shook me up quite a bit and the next 30-45 minutes of scrambling was feeling less fun. Fortunately I got things back together because the final Class 4/5 ascent up Crestone Needle was.......intense.....
          Hike Always.
          http://dunbarsm.wordpress.com

          Comment


          • #6
            DF: Electric is a good word for it. My mind was ticking away every day until we went out. Thanks!

            Dunbar:Sounds hairy especially if you felt out of sorts. It's definitely easy to get into trouble if you lose your focus. It's good none of the CO t-storms hit while you were there! Thanks for sharing.
            May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

            www.adirondackmountaineering.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Best trip of the Summer so far

              What are the recipe for a good outing

              1- Having a nice objective

              2- If you are not alone having a reliable and trusty partner.

              3- Great weather

              4- Your objective was not planned.

              In this particular outing all these were met.

              I have contacted Mudrat asking him , if he was available for the WE, the answer was no, maybe next WE.

              So I started to plan going around either Marcy or elsewhere but not the Dix range.

              I left for the afternoon, and when I came back, I receive a mail from Mudrat telling me of a change of plan.

              Do you want to go to Dix?????

              I was surprised, where does he want to go on Dix we have been there four weeks earlier, and he must have climbed almost everything the mountain has to offer. Big question mark in my head.

              I reply, what do you want to do? are you alone?

              Then he tells me about the Santa outing in which he had seen a new slide on Dix south ridge.

              I ask do you have a picture?

              The picture came back in the next mail and my answer was count me in.

              Like the good old days when a party is launched on the fly, no expectation always seems to yield a good time.

              A good time, we both had, It is true that I like to bug him with his navigation skills, since I do not navigate by instrument......

              So after about an hour of BWacking we reach a little brook, then a short while after another brook, but that one was distinctively different from the first one in the sense that the rocks were white and there was a little bit of woods tossed out on the sides, in my mind at that moment I knew we have found what we were after.

              Going up the slide runout, was a lesson in humility, in the sense that one can only marvelled at the power of nature.

              On the other hand, I could not miss the fact that very few might have been there in the first place, we might have been the first one to look at Hough west face slides and Macomb from our vintage point.

              All that would have not been possible a mere 2 months before.

              Both slides are distinctively different and the North (narrower of the two) was definitely the prize.

              Good rock, plus a finish that is harder than it looks were all I needed to concluded that it was great.



              The above image show how steep was the last part, the start was touchy and one had to look and think on how to use the feature for going up.

              A miss would probably ensure a quick demise......

              We both then climbed the southern tributary, which did not yield (at least for me) the same sense of achievement, but the view at the top of Elk Lake was sufficient for me to appreciate the effort of going there.

              The rest of the day was an enjoyable hike out with fine views on the Dix range and the surrounding area.

              Thank You Mudrat for inviting me to share this adventure with you, it was great in all sense of the word.
              8000m 0/14

              Comment


              • #8
                Job well done, gentlemen! Picture #45 really gives a sense of the steepness of the northern leg, and the Dix Pond photo is fantastic! Thanks for this TR, I've been waiting in semi-agony for its publication!!
                https://picasaweb.google.com/masshysteria1958

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by masshysteria View Post
                  Job well done, gentlemen! Picture #45 really gives a sense of the steepness of the northern leg, and the Dix Pond photo is fantastic! Thanks for this TR, I've been waiting in semi-agony for its publication!!
                  Thanks. I'm glad it didn't disappoint! The area was truly spectacular and NP is right, the skinny slide is the climbing gem though I enjoyed both. The journey to the base and runout are a blast as well. Approaching the ridge with the profile of Beckhorn looming above was very humbling.
                  May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

                  www.adirondackmountaineering.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wow. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion, and I'm quite full of it right now! You guys really know how to find adventure, literally. What an amazing day out!

                    I love the name you gave the slide. It's perfect. I can't wait to check this one out, particularly the northern line of the claw.

                    Your description of the BW to get to the slide sounds like a classic Mudrat route:

                    "Rotten blowdown and moderate growth with the occasional glacial erratic seemed to be the rule. The cool rain of the day prior was still on the branches of the trees. "

                    Well done, gentlemen. An instant classic for sure!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by krummholz View Post
                      Wow. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion, and I'm quite full of it right now! You guys really know how to find adventure, literally. What an amazing day out!

                      I love the name you gave the slide. It's perfect. I can't wait to check this one out, particularly the northern line of the claw.

                      Your description of the BW to get to the slide sounds like a classic Mudrat route:

                      "Rotten blowdown and moderate growth with the occasional glacial erratic seemed to be the rule. The cool rain of the day prior was still on the branches of the trees. "

                      Well done, gentlemen. An instant classic for sure!!
                      We could go up the claw then down the north fork and up hunters pass slide sometime to up the ante. You'd have liked it, Greg. Wish you could have been a part of it as well! Thanks, my friend!
                      May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

                      www.adirondackmountaineering.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mudrat View Post
                        We could go up the claw then down the north fork and up hunters pass slide sometime to up the ante.
                        For someone so holy, you sure are sinister ! Sounds amazing. As you know, the clock's ticking for me so it's gotta either be soon or 5 years from now

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!
                          It is easier to become a Forty Sixer than to be one. The art of the being is to keep one's sense of wonder after the excitement of the game is over. ...”There are few experiences in life that do not need to be expressed in words. Becoming a Forty-Sixer is one... How to be one is up to the individual.”

                          Paul Jamieson Class of '58

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The only thing that would have made it better was finding some melted butter at the top for your lobster claw....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by NoTrace View Post
                              The only thing that would have made it better was finding some melted butter at the top for your lobster claw....
                              This will makes the holds greasy....., this not what you want on the northern part of the claw, trust me.
                              8000m 0/14

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