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Khyber's Slide on Lower Wolfjaw - 2015 February 1 - Icy and Cold

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  • Khyber's Slide on Lower Wolfjaw - 2015 February 1 - Icy and Cold

    Duration: 8 hours
    Mileage/Elevation Gain approx.: 8.5/3,100’
    Pack Weight: 40 lbs.
    Gear: various layers, puffy down jacket, rope, harness/a few slings and biners, helmet, lynx crampons, ice tools.
    Location: http://www.flashearth.com/?lat=44.15...6.1&r=0&src=hl
    PHOTO SET
    VIDEO

    FULL SIZE MOSAIC


    What to do when bouncing back from the flu? Something relatively tame and under 10 miles with good bailout options. Khyber’s Slide on Lower Wolfjaw (just south and over the ridge from Bennies Root Canal) seemed like a perfect option. As a bonus, I’d get another winter bushwhack 46 under my belt if we bushwhacked to the summit.

    Background
    This is one of Irene’s creations from 2011. A couple weeks after the storm I climbed Bennies to the summit of Lower Wolfjaw then bushwhacked down to this track and followed it over to UWJ’s Wide Slide (just up and right of the old lean-to site). Brendan Wiltse named it after his dog when he climbed it with permission a couple days after Irene as part of surveying storm damage while caretaking at JBL. As a point of reference, Drew Haas used the name Lower Slide in his aerial guidebook and I used to use the Northwest Ridge Slide as a descriptive name for lack of anything better.

    The main areas of the slide are the runout, low-angle slab, 50’ “step” leading to another 40’ step, slightly higher angle bulges of slab to the top.

    On the Trail
    Loren Swears joined me this time around; we began walking toward the Southside Trail from the Garden at about 7:15 a.m. With little snow in the woods at low elevation, the hike went quickly and we arrived at Wolfjaws Brook in what seemed no time at all. If you’re in a hurry, I’d recommend just following the Southside Trail to the Red trail. Cut into the drainage before somewhere near the lean-to. We, however, opted to tromp through the powder up Wolfjaws Brook directly from the Southside Trail. I hoped to find a few nice pitches of ice in the streambed.

    Loren walking up the drainage on the slide proper.


    Loren fell through to his ankle a couple times, but didn’t get wet. Most of the stream is frozen, but obviously not all of it. Within 45 minutes we found ourselves intersecting the red trail and followed until we saw the exit to our target. Deep powder led to thinner powder over ice in the rubble/runout section.

    The transition to slab was marked by thick water ice with some blown powder. Underneath and unseen were the small ledges and slab minutiae that makes this slide nice in non-winter conditions. We rounded the bend and I got my first surprise—fat yellow ice on the first ‘step’ or ledge below the confluence of the two tributaries.

    Getting ready to round the bend and approach the tributaries.




    I gave Loren my camera and asked if he’d nab some photos of me playing on the steeper ice (still low angle by ice-climbing standards). It was time to put the front-points of the crampons to use. A 5’ wall led to some snow at the bottom of the step. Temperatures near 0 Fahrenheit made the ice brittle and climbing a challenge. Loren skirted the side of the slab near the debris and a few minutes later we met on top and walked up to the steeper second ‘step’.

    Kevin climbing the first step.


    A vertical section on the right was tempting, but shorter than the line up the center. I climbed up the center on 70-75 degree ice for about 35 vertical feet and traversed to a short steep gully. This was a technical ice climb thrown in as a bonus. I took my time as Loren bushwhacked around the northern (left) edge. The ice was a couple feet thick and I felt secure with each placement though I had to clean out several pockets of snow-covered ice along the way. I found the short gully was slushy below the surface so I climbed slightly above the flow and exited on the top right. I was positioned above the 20’ vertical flow and moved up to the low-angle ice above deliberately before walking over to Loren and sitting to catch my breath.

    As an aside, the consequences of this step in particular are high if you slip—you’d fall 35-40 feet then tumble or slide down to and over the first step. I may talk casually about this, but I take it very seriously. Neither ‘step’ is necessary to climb in winter or dry conditions—just stay along the side.

    Kevin on the second step.




    We still had 800 more ground feet to cover to reach the top. The ice climb wasn’t over, but it was less exposed compared to the ‘steps’. Once at the top we gathered ourselves and changed into snowshoes for the bushwhack to the summit. This would take us up 500 vertical feet over 1000 ground feet at a heading of 150 magnetic.

    Loren climbing along the upper section.


    Top of the slide.


    I’d been fighting the flu off and on for three weeks and felt strong on the slide. The exertion of crawling up a steep slope of unconsolidated snow changed that, however. Our track took us through intermittently open and dense forest and up a few icy ledges. Near the top we encountered a larger ledge and headed left along a gully. There was only a couple feet of snow until that point, but the gully and loose woods had another foot. A climb up a final steep rocky slope led to the krummholz at the top of the ridge. We intersected the Range Trail about 75 northeast of the summit.

    The icy temperatures below were inverted and we enjoyed the relatively warm temperatures in the bright sun. Until that point, we’d been mainly climbing in the shadow of Lower Wolfjaw. I silently reflected on the last time I was on Lower Wolfjaw during winter—midnight of 2010.
    We found ourselves back at the Garden at 3:15 p.m. some 8 hours after beginning the trek, faster than I thought. Another great day in the woods, another High Peak winter bushwhack and slide climb.

    Thanks for a great day and awesome photos, Loren!

    Loren during the bushwhack up the NW flank.
    Last edited by mudrat; 02-07-2015, 01:05 PM.
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

    www.adirondackmountaineering.com

  • #2
    Finally I can see something on trip besides the video.

    Comment


    • #3
      Great to finally see a new trip report! Good to hear that your feeling better- soon to be much loftier trips I assume. 40 lbs for ten miles and a slide? Perhaps your name might be "packrat" from now on...
      "Victory awaits him who has everything in order luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck." -Roald Amundsen

      ADK 46- 35/46

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by HRS Nomad View Post
        Great to finally see a new trip report! Good to hear that your feeling better- soon to be much loftier trips I assume. 40 lbs for ten miles and a slide? Perhaps your name might be "packrat" from now on...
        LOL! I've been called worse!
        It's better than the 55 I carried into Panther Gorge in December! Problem is I had the layers trimmed to 1 extra top, puffy down and a few pairs of gloves. I took a rope, harness, few biners, slings, ice screw along as backup (all of which stayed in the pack). Darn 60M rope is around 7 lbs. because I don't want to cut it. Axes, spikes, crampons, snowshoes add up :( . Would have been b/t 20-30 w/o climbing gear anyway.
        May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

        www.adirondackmountaineering.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mudrat View Post
          LOL! I've been called worse!
          It's better than the 55 I carried into Panther Gorge in December! Problem is I had the layers trimmed to 1 extra top, puffy down and a few pairs of gloves. I took a rope, harness, few biners, slings, ice screw along as backup (all of which stayed in the pack). Darn 60M rope is around 7 lbs. because I don't want to cut it. Axes, spikes, crampons, snowshoes add up :( . Would have been b/t 20-30 w/o climbing gear anyway.
          If you give yourself the trouble of carrying a rope, screws and harness, better wear it and tied the rope and pulled it up, cos if you break a crampon you will be GLAD you did it, Trust me, I went through that experience before, without having a rope....., but I was with a partner who went down to get the rope and after about an hour standing on one leg, I was finally able to get down safely.

          If I had the choice between breaking 2 blades of each axe and 1 crampon, I would chose the blades....

          Nice outing you did. Thanks for TR.
          8000m 0/14

          Comment


          • #6
            Good point, NP. I should've done it like we did the Cruciflyer last year.
            May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

            www.adirondackmountaineering.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the great trip report. It makes the loop including BBS look very alluring for a non-winter hike. I bet moosebeware was a little jealous
              Crepuscular Rays: Dissolve into evergreens

              There's always gonna be another mountain
              I'm always gonna wanna make it move
              Always gonna be an uphill battle
              Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
              Ain't about how fast I get there
              Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side...
              It's the climb
              -Miley Cyrus

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Crepuscular View Post
                Thanks for the great trip report. It makes the loop including BBS look very alluring for a non-winter hike. I bet moosebeware was a little jealous
                Thank you!
                Yup, it's a wonderful loop if you hit it right. She was having fun on her own heading to Marshall...didn't want anything to do with the 'guys'.
                May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

                www.adirondackmountaineering.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for another view of the peaks. As usual the your report was a pleasure to read and view.
                  What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

                  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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