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Old 07-06-2011, 07:23 PM   #2
Slide Junkie, 46R 5430W
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: ADK Mountains
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I am a 46er I cross post at ADKForum
Part 2

The moss gradually increased as I began to climb an ever lessening, though steep slab. This occurred just above 300 of vertical elevation gain. It had taken nearly two hours from the trail to simply climb the bottom and most difficult section. As its grade lessened drastically, from over 45 degrees to perhaps 25, I sat to enjoy the views and renourish. The hike had taken longer than expected, so the break was welcome. Other than the birds and tiger swallowtail butterflies, nothing but the view was notablethe slide was just plain slab with little character and the occasional island of cedars, birch and moss. Its dull (by comparison) face was a welcome break after the bottom and before the next pitch.

The slide split at around 3,700 feet in elevation, but this is defined by small islands of trees. The final pitch occurs as some ledges at about 3,900 feet in elevation. This noted a shift back to a steeper grade and was marked on the north with a vertical ridge and on the southern leg with interesting ledgework. Choices, choicesnorth or south. The north leg was narrow by comparison and, from below appeared to have more moss growth. A relatively clean track did, however, ascend on the southern side of the northern leg. The southern leg was wider with more ledge work and cleaner anorthosite. Its only shortcoming was that it wasnt as high. I compromised and climbed the southern leg before crossing the meager vegetation to the northern leg.

The rolling slab still contained some algae and moss, but grip was not an issue, even wet. It wasnt nearly as steep as below and was still rough and pitted. Small ledges broke the climb every so often. The top of the northern leg was as much moss as stone, so careful footing became the focal point of my trek. The sky had clouded over a bit, which means interesting photography. Most interestingly, a cloud covered the valley below, but lit the slide. It appeared as if the slide fell into an ominous darkness threatening to climb the slide in pursuit. Perhaps an army of Mordor was passing below.

The slide and the sundews and moss eventually tapered off into the cripplebrush. The bushwhack appeared to be short to moderate so I kept my rock shoes on since Id also be picking my way up the 50 foot cliffs below the summit ridge. Twenty minutes later I was standing at its magnificent base. It tapered off and down to the south and looked like a rock climbers paradise with dramatic cracks and routes galore. A small corridor along the base allowed an easy walk to an area of the cliff that had fallen down and leaned against the wall. Inch wide ledges and cracks allowed me to climb the short vertical piece and into the blueberry bushes, though the berries were unripe and green. Fractured anorthosite boulders littered the rest of the route until I topped the ridge and found the path about 20 feet from the ledge.

Id completed my tenth climb of Colden at 12:50 p.m. and there was something totally new atop the familiar mountaina solitary summit. Lunch upon the boulder overlooking the lake below was one of peace and reflection on my many times up the trap dyke and the slide from whence I came. With energy renewed from lunch and hydration, I contemplated my route down and decided to explore the false summit slides.

The Otis Gully Slides
Coldens northern summit is brushed by hikers on the way up from Lake Arnold, but how often does one take the time to observe its views except maybe that of the impending climb up to the real summit? I know I hadnt taken much time in the past and so decided this would be the day. The open summit offered views of the slides which travel nearly due west from near the summit to the col. My first instinct was to descend from the top and descend the southernmost of the twin slides, but I instead descended back to the col, curious on what leg eating, flesh tearing wonders it contained. I needed to drop about 400 from the col to pick up the bottom of the first slide.

The col was relatively open and descended sharply. I took care of the sod holes and carefully wound my way through the trees upon the sphagnum carpet underfoot. The trek progressed as one used to bushwhacking might expect; with the usual slippery footing of moss over rock, small ledges, and biting undergrowth. Good grief, I love it! Eventually the stream built enough volume to be heard in the rather wide col. Temptation led me to the north to intersect the slide on its edge, but the purist in me mentally slapped my own wrist and I stuck to the col until sighting the first old mossy slab through the trees. I had to re-ascend to actually get on the slab where I performed another dance of swapping shoes and slapping blackflies. They were my new company and one brave soul martyred itself as protein for my climb. Anyway, the shoes may not have been necessary since the mean slope was about 32 degrees, but I was tired and that equals unsure footing especially when moss is around.

I ascended in only a few minutes and mentally noted to avoid it in the future as simply not worth the effort. I crossed to the northern slide when I reached the intervening vegetation. The final wall of ledges looked fun, but I wanted to keep perspective and had satisfied my curiosity.

The northern twin was much more interesting with more intricate ledges at the top, middle and bottom. As I descended, old weathered ledges dominated the thin slide. Fields of broken slab created footing conditions to be handled with care. The last pitch (or first if youre climbing it) was, perhaps, the most interesting due, again, to the ledges. The south side harbored a layered knob. Clean slab was underfoot until the 6 wall at the bottom. A few feet farther and I was back in the col. It was a satisfying slide that I would use as a route to the summit.

At this point, the col briefly became a bit treacherous. The large pieces of rubble, assumedly from the slide, choked the stream which trickled some 10 below the surface. The surface was covered in moss and other growth. Holes in the network occasionally allowed a view of the water. I stepped with care. I was still high in the drainage and breaking a leg wasnt in my itinerary. I made a judgment call to keep my rock shoes on. Theyre terrible on vegetation, but I tried to stay in the stream, which reappeared after the rubble field.

A few minutes later, I dropped enough elevation to find the looming face of the clean white slide on the opposite wall. It looked smooth from a distance, but contained various, if not small contours in its surface. The initial wall was over 45 degrees and it looked as if it laid down once over the first 100 or so. I sat on a side boulder taking pictures for some time for the scene was incredible. The looming anorthosite wall beckoned from the south and below, the wide col was scoured clean. Small slides intermittently covered the other side, but were red/brown rather than clean.

I was tired and the slide was tempting, but not so much that it overwhelmed my sensibility. I was alone in a very rugged place. I didnt want to get hung up on some odd pitch requiring thought to conquer. Pictures would have to suffice.

Several drainage streams connected via various ledges in the drainage which funneled into one central gorge. It was wide at first but narrowed and increase in depth with my passage. A shattered layer of stone, broken into rectangular pieces littered the initial and widest area. With some time and energy it appeared as if the splayed puzzle could be reassembleda bit of superglue might even make it wholefor a time!

Boulders choked the stream as I descended ever nearer to the cliff face of avalanche pass and an assumedly technical descent of some height. My purpose was to descend to the leading edge of the next most southern slide (on the left while descending), one that was steeper and also quite clean. A redirect of about 30 degrees after taking declination into account would then keep me above the cliffs and ledges to the next drainage, but I get ahead of myself.

The area was so impressive that I cant wait to go back and explore further. The cascades and angles of the stone were both oppressive and beautifula truly wild area whose beauty was created by some incredible natural violence. The northeastern wall was, by now, very steep and peeled clean of vegetation for about 10 or 20 feet. I found an area with enough contour to climb into the cedars for yet another shoe change dance, grabbed some nutrition and checked my compass.

The passage was relatively easy thereafter. It only took 20 minutes to reach the next col. A mixture of fir, cedar and a few birch choked the area. Blowdown was moderate. The challenge was simply keeping my heading while ascending and crossing the curved mountainside. Small slick slides as well as a steeper descent heralded the next drainage.

It was narrow and choked with trees by comparison, at least where I intersected it. A few small slides allowed me to literally slide into it. At this point, Id two obvious choices based on energy level and goals. The first was to continue down the drainage to the pass and path below, but that would eliminate a final slide possibility. The contour map showed that it should be navigable. The second option was to ascend the steep wall of the northeastern side and try my luck with the woods. Hopefully, they be no worse than the last passage. The compass heading of 30 degrees was set to lead me to the edge of Avalanche Pass Slide which Id explored years earlier. I gave myself enough margin of error so I wouldnt pass over the top. I chose this option since my energy level was renewed after my last snack. It was also only about 3:30 p.m. and the days were now long. I also didnt want Neil or Jim to call me lazy for by passing a last possibility
May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

Last edited by mudrat; 11-27-2012 at 08:17 PM.
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