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Colden West Gully (Cruciflyer) Slide on Ice: 2013 December 8

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  • Colden West Gully (Cruciflyer) Slide on Ice: 2013 December 8

    Disclaimer: or "Avoiding Death by Slide Climbing".
    Duration: 10 hours
    Mileage: about 10 miles
    Temps: 15-25F
    Partner: NP
    Satellite Link
    PHOTOS

    Click here for full size mosaic.


    I’ll let the pictures do much of the talking for this report. In summary...

    Our goal for the day was something on the west side of Colden, it didn’t really matter what as long as it was ‘in’. After finding another group ahead and two others behind at the Trap Dike, we opted for the solitude of the West Gully Slide aka The Cruciflyer. It promised over 1200 feet of elevation gain and some 2250 ground feet of climbing. Views of Wright and Algonquin were stunning from the aspect of the West Gully especially in combination with the double fall line of the slide.

    The trail was a combination of ice, a thin coating of packed snow and exposed rock. Avalanche Lake was frozen solid. We arrived at the base of the gully at around 11:00 a.m. after starting from the Loj just after 8:00. Sean, the caretaker for the Lake Colden outpost, paid us a visit while we were gearing up…very nice person! By 11:30, we were climbing. I was thrilled to be moving to get some feeling back in my hands! Changing into crampons and readying the gear in winter is always a challenge.

    The nuances of the slide in the summer can be found here. In any season, it’s an intriguing climb. The dual slope (both north and west) of the gully makes certain areas rather challenging…side-sloping on ice in winter conditions. During much of it, a slip would find you crashing into the overhanging rock some 20-50 feet below. Not that that would be pretty, but other areas have much higher exposure. Conditions were perfect, though, with thick ice as a rule.

    The slide is deceptively long on account of the left-hand overhangs. They effectively obscure a full length view. You tend to feel you’re nearing the top at about the halfway point at one of the protruding overhangs. When you climb around it, you get the full perspective and realize there is another 500-600 feet of elevation gain left.

    The top pitch required the most care; it was the steepest with the most exposure. This is the part of the slide that reaches toward the ridgeline as seen from the turnoff to the Loj from Route 73. Our line (about 350 feet long) started from the last massive overhang and followed a corner up for about 30 feet. Thereafter, it was climbing on bulges of pure ice broken by some consolidated snow. The top two pitches (150 feet combined) were the steepest as expected.

    A 60 meter rope was tied to my harness; I’d been dragging it then entire time. It’s amazing the friction (and pressure) it creates when it is partially on snow. The solution…find a plateau, pull it up to your position and climb on. Though we didn’t use it for the climb itself, it was certainly helpful to rappel down several pitches. We either bushwhacked along the side or down-climbed along the edge on other areas. In all, we spent about 4 hours climbing and descending.


    Kevin a few hundred feet up from the bottom.


    NP walking up a break in the ice. No view of the top from here.


    NP climbing around one of the larger stones (on the left) that was dislodged during Irene.




    Nature's artistry.


    Looking toward the upper slide.


    Below the top.




    NP near the top.
    Last edited by mudrat; 12-11-2013, 04:00 PM.
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

    www.adirondackmountaineering.com

  • #2
    Seasonal Comparison Shots

















    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

    www.adirondackmountaineering.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Looks like great fun. Great photos! How is the top-out there? Too thick to bushwhack up to intersect the trail to Lake Arnold?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by aoc-1 View Post
        Looks like great fun. Great photos! How is the top-out there? Too thick to bushwhack up to intersect the trail to Lake Arnold?
        Thanks! Nope top is ok...about 20 minutes during the summer to Colden's N summit. There are some thick portions and stay to the ridge top after about 15 minutes to avoid some ledges on the climber's left. We just decided to rappel for fun rather than whack.
        May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

        www.adirondackmountaineering.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Nice presentation Kevin. Loved the side by side seasonal shots especially. Looks nasty with ice on it, but who calls it the crucifier, and why?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Gregory Karl View Post
            Nice presentation Kevin. Loved the side by side seasonal shots especially. Looks nasty with ice on it, but who calls it the crucifier, and why?
            Thanks Greg. I love doing those comparisons. We had a nice climb up it together. Drew Haas' Slide Guide lists it as the CruciFLYER. I've also heard Crucifier, but not seen it in writing.
            May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

            www.adirondackmountaineering.com

            Comment


            • #7
              So the two "inexperienced chickens" went climbing this route instead of the more sought after TDike, in fact this how I call ourselves, with a big smile, thinking on how some who saw us turn back from the TDIKe may have tought about us.

              I knew the climbing conditions would be stellar in term of ice. I have told Mudrat, that we should go take a look around Colden, with an open mind, since when we left the loj, we did not yet knew what we were going to climb.

              IMO, there where 4 possibles routes and the Western gully was one of them. We walked along with the french Canadian until we reached the base of the TDike, Mudrat spot the rope team and we where there with the french Canadian couple, I was still willing to give it a go, but Mudrat prefer doing another route and this how we went to the Western Gully.

              The route is not a classic like the TDIke, but in the condition we have found it has other redeeming qualities, like we had it to ourselves, it is long (longer than what it may appears) and there is lot of ice, enough to burn your legs.

              I would grade the route has II neice2 and would avoid it this year after a good snowfall, since with the base of hard ice it would turn into an Avyland kingdom.

              The descent was made with 3 rappels and we have walk down on the side of the route.

              We had a great time on it, since for us we have done it in the dry season, we where able to compare the differences.

              Another good day in the high peaks.
              8000m 0/14

              Comment


              • #8
                I'll take that climb over a crowded trap dike any day! Nice work boys! Let's link up soon.
                The greatest precept is continual awareness.

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