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Chicken Coop Slide - 9-2-17

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  • Chicken Coop Slide - 9-2-17

    Chicken Coop Slide


    Slide climbing partner Claudia, and I took a visit to the Chicken Coop Slide on Saturday. We started our day walking the road to the Garden trailhead because the lot was full. It was cold Saturday morning and there was frost a the JBL. And since the trails Saturday were dry and fast and we were quickly at Chicken Coop Brook. But we took our time ascending the brook waiting for sun and warming. Water in the brook was low and travel easy over rocks generously covered in green moss. It was very scenic.

    After climbing the wide slide at lower elevations we climbed the slide to climbers right. It was more of a gully and filled broken rock that provided good traction. From the top we contoured toward Saddleback and descended an older very mossy slide.

    On our descent we scoped out and discussed what we'd do on the Chicken Coop Slide. It ascends the Northwest side of Saddleback, say, 90o around from the blazed route up Saddleback Cliffs. We had read Mudrat's report and reviewed the pictures and our discussion centered around what we'd do to exit. Without rope and seeing the pictures we knew we wouldn't and probably couldn't take Mudrat's exit. It had much more exposure than we were interested in . And though he did it he belayed other climbers over it and rope was needed. There appeared to be two other options. Both that would start from a tree island at the start of the top third of the rock. One would be climb left of the tree island as far as possible and exit through trees in a gully to the east. The other, depending on how easy it would be to get across the slide laterally, would be to climb after crossing then go up the far right side of the slide. It appeared that the climb could be against a wall or possibly closer to the trees.

    Well, enough about what might happen. After descending the old slide we went downhill a bit then crossed over to another slide that is the one we took in the winter to climb to Basin. After climbing that briefly we started contouring to the east toward our target. After awhile we came to the mossy bottom and much of the elevation gain was over mossy rock also covered with old gray colored lichen. After climbing that for awhile I noticed more rock further east and found a wide short slide adjacent to the target. There was some moss here but the traction was good and before gaining the top of it we crossed over to our target.

    The lower section we found good rock and several nice cracks to ascend after switching to rock shoes. In a short time we were at the tree island. Claudia decided to try to climb just to the right of the tree island. I didn't like the thick lichen and descended a bit before turning to climb while contouring across. After crossing and in position for a good look up I decided that climbing against the rock wall was not where I wanted to go as there was heavy lichen and there's be a couple side steps at the height I didn't like either. Instead there seemed to be better rock in climbing diagonally across this short slab that would get me near the trees on the right. I took it and liked it and then climbed onto a landing. In the meantime Claudia had bailed on her original idea and was nearing me on the other side of the wall. She had to cross at the height I didn't care for but I was able to reach across and take her hand when she took two steps and was on the landing too.

    From our landing, above us was something too high and so loaded with lichen that it was impossible. So we went up beside it using the vegetation until arriving at a short ramp that led to what looked like a passage that we figured was the exit. To our left I saw for real the what I saw in the pictures Mudrat had of his exit.

    Claudia tried to go straight up the ramp but slid back. So instead we worked our way into a big crack from below and wormed our way out. After getting through the passage taking what seemed like a single step we found ourselves on the blazed route up the Saddleback Cliffs. This was the shortest exit ever.

    From there we climbed to Saddleback. Finding it was only 12:30 we decided to add on the Basin NE Shoulder Slide downclimbing the old slide off Saddleback to get there. One thing to note is that bottom face of the NE Shoulder is beginning to accumulate small mosses. It seemed to me it was clear on our last (and 2nd) time there. After the slide we finished up climbed to Basin and then called it day returning over Saddleback. Our time to the Garden was pretty quick aided by the very dry trail. At the Garden parking lot we ran into a group that included a woman that Claudia had helped to do the Santanoni's. Along with the reunion was an offer of a ride back to our car which we were very grateful for.

    It ended up being a long day, 14 hours, but we got out before needing to use headlamps. I don't think we'll be doing the Chicken Coop Slide again. Too mossy and too much lichen. But we will probably end up on the NE Shoulder most likely on the way to Basin's East Face too sometime in the not too distant future.


  • #2
    Ah, so you found it as appealing as I did! It's definitely good practice for keeping your head in precarious situations. If you consider all the moss and it's aspect, then you'll realize it's probably a great winter slide with all that moisture. I know it gets skied a fair amount. Anyway, it sounded like a fun adventure in all! Nice. ...and unless a storm or rockfall gives it a good cleaning, I doubt I'll be back there anytime soon either
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.


    • #3
      It does look like a very nice ski slope. If only I still skied.