- Started from 9N via the North Trail, a climb up Owl Head Lookout and took a look at high bank on the way to the base of the NE slide.
- Explored the two lobes of the NE slides…drastically different from one another…right is mossy, left is cleaner.
- Bushwhacked over the ridge (1200’) to the main ledges of the East Face and then walked across to the middle trib. and climbed to the summit.
- Dropped down the trail to RPR col and down another 300’ vertical to base of Dipper Slide and up to Ridge Trail.
- Took Ridge Trail to top of Finger Slide and descended to the rubble pile.
- Quick whack over to Eagle Slide (roughly equivalent to 1st pitch) and climbed to the second “feather” from the right and then back to summit. Exit via Roaring Brook Falls.
NE Slide(s) http://www.mackenziefamily.com/46/sh..._cooliris.html
East Face (Top Portion) http://www.mackenziefamily.com/46/sh..._cooliris.html
Finger (Descent) http://www.mackenziefamily.com/46/sh..._cooliris.html
I love to create routes using slides as the main attraction. I routed some on Giant’s western face as a kick-off hike for 2010 summer season and decided to finish the named slides on Giant this year with the same method. The only complication was that they were on various faces or ridges of the mountain which ended up being a moot issue since they’re still close together. This hike took me on three new slides (Northeast Face, Dipper and Finger Slides) and two old friends (East Face and Eagle). I made a few bushwhacking miscalculations en route, but was pleasantly surprised a couple times as well which enabled me to complete my best case scenario…I often plan slightly beyond my perceived limits. The Eagle, which I’d already climbed twice, was the wildcard which worked out in the end. The thirteen plus hour covered about 12.5 miles (which felt like much more) from Route 9N to Route 73.
Saturday morning started with sun and some half hearted ambition that I knew I’d walk off once I woke up completely. The moderate hike in from 9N via the north trail to Giant was just the ticket and I kept a steady, but leisurely pace. A cacophony of birds including the familiar song of the Robin and Wood Thrush sung to my soul while the gentle streams under a hardwood canopy massaged my other senses. There really wasn’t much to report until I dropped my pack at Owl Head Lookout after about an hour’s walk. I’d never been up to the overlook so I jogged the 1/10 mile to take a peek and survey the slides on Rocky Peak Ridge and Green Mountain. It was 7:20 and RPR’s small slides called from afar.
Further along the trail, a field of wild columbine, red/orange and yellow, adorned a hillside. The warm colors were further enhanced by the early morning sun. Last year on a trip to Giant’s East Face from New Russia I photographed the distant glacial feature…High Bank. I arrive on it birch adorned crest at about 8:30 and heard the rush of Roaring Brook below. Giant’s East face gazed from a distance a couple minutes later…calling and tempting me to explore once again. …and I planned to during this hike.
I first needed to climb the primary goal, the Northeast Slides and needed to spend another mile on trial before beginning the off trail menagerie of a route I’d had in mind. A friend, Jim (LeavenoTrace), told me to catch the stream where the trail was closest, but I followed if farther up to attempt a distant shot of the slide. No such luck due to the lush foliage except one area where I was able to photograph the mid to upper portion. So, the bushwhack began at about 8:30 and I intercepted the brook only a few minutes later after a comfortable bushwhack. I then followed along the left side of the stream…the wrong stream, but heck it was a nice day. I’d whacked ¼ mile too far by the time I decided to check my bearing and realized I was on the other side of the ridge from my NE slide drainage.
All the while I couldn’t help thinking about James 2 when he talked about trials, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” I don’t think he was talking about bushwhacking at the time, but it seemed appropriate at this juncture, nonetheless.
The entire affair cost me ½ mile and the same amount of time…1/2 hour. The woods were a little more littered with blowdown on Giant, but far from tight. Step by step I approached the steep ledge-ridden edge of the drainage and dropped about 50’ down onto the lowest slabs below the initial wall onto the slide. It’s width was about 20’ and it was beautiful beyond compare. 12” tiers on the gentle slope formed small cascades and pools where various outcrops redirected the water. This lasted for several hundred feet.
I was presented with a choice of direction. Left led into a tight confine of vegetation and I’d changed into rock shoes so I avoided it and followed the main flow of water. This was mistake number two.
I climbed a couple hundred feet through a rather interesting gorge of mossed rocks and rather enjoyed the scenery. The direction felt wrong and I didn’t bother to check the compass. The slide had been in front of the section I avoided. I expected to come to a clearing any moment perhaps on the right lobe, but the drainage, upon later research led gradually away from the slides. I came upon some new activity from the recent rains. A boulder (30’ long and 10’ in diameter) had rolled about 15’ down from the hillside and into the drainage taking all trees with it and shearing a couple in half. I climbed up the embankment and trekked south for a few minutes when I met up with the slide just above the foot wall. I looked down from the ledge and saw the rather grown in slab and bottleneck of blowdown at the chokepoint 100’ below.
Crossing to the “clean” side involved carefully finding my footing on the rounded ledges. Moss grew in the cracks and occasionally on the rocks and the footing was less than sure at times.
Now upon the slab, I climbed the small ledges, heavily grown in with 10-12’ alder (in birch family) and other vegetation including magnificent clumps of pink mountain laurel. It was about 9:30 a.m. and the beautiful flowers glowed in the mid-morning light. The slide splits at about 3,700’ in elevation, the point at which I decided to drop my pack and climb the right-hand tributary. An interestingly weathered ledge led to the clean slab of the left trib. With camera in hand, I cross trekked and upon looking at the right side decided to just take a picture and save energy. Then I thought, “I’ll just climb to the next set of vegetation.” So, I picked my way up on the bare spots between the heavy algae and moss. It was heavily grown in. The slab was rough, rounded and extremely textured with plenty of feature…a stark contrast to what I saw on the south side which was rough but rather flat and without major features. Anyway, I climbed to within about 50’ of the top where large mounds of moss grew in an interesting formation…the high point of the northern side. Ten minute’s careful down-climb led me back to the fork and my pack.
Climbing the main clean slab was not rock science. The slope is minimal around 30 degrees. The main features of interest were about six veins of granular garnet. The dikes were horizontal and not weathered. The bottom edge then dropped to the slab until it reached the next flat vein. The veins I find are normally rounded extrusions.
A few minutes slow climb led to a headwall that increased in pitch by a few degrees and was again rough underfoot. A small rock at the very top was the perfect perch to change shoes, eat and absorb the late morning views. Green Mountain spread before me. The ski slopes of Whiteface peaked over as well. Hurricane’s fire tower peaked over Green Mountain as well. The next section would involve a bushwhack to the south and into the sun…easy navigation. I imagined dense cripplebrush, but was pleasantly surprised.
GOTO PART 2