Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Skylight Bushwhack/Slides: A Bushwhack Down Panther Gorge with 2 Marcy Slides

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Skylight Bushwhack/Slides: A Bushwhack Down Panther Gorge with 2 Marcy Slides

    Disclaimer

    Sorry the title is a mouthful...

    Date: 2012 May 12
    PICTURES
    Partner:
    Krummholz
    Mileage/Elevation Gain:
    18 miles/6500’
    Duration:
    17 hours, 40 minutes; 5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. with 20 minute respite at JBL.
    Food:
    2 eggs, 2 loaves banana bread, protein bar, starburst, some shared food from Krummholz (thank you!)
    Pack weight:
    25 lbs.
    Water:
    4 liters (I did not drink enough)

    Route:
    Garden to Haystack/Marcy col. Bushwhack through Panther Gorge to Grand Central Slide base. Follow bottom of Marcy East Face to southern ‘white’ slide track and climb to top. (Anyone have a name for this slide???) Bushwhack on-contour to easternmost slide on south face (confusing, I know…see pic below). Follow down to Panther Gorge. Bushwhack to path. Follow path south to confluence of Marcy Brook and main tributary from Skylight eastern face. Follow tributary up. Traverse to widest rubble slide. Bushwhack to summit. Descend Skylight via path, climb Marcy and follow trail to Garden.

    Where to begin…I’ve been scoping Skylight’s eastern tributary for years. Krummholz and I discussed a bushwhack from the south from Allen and it evolved into this. I’ve also been scoping the lighter slide track to the south of the main open face on Marcy. I assumed it was too steep to climb. It’s steep and exposed, but we worked it out. Finally, I’ve wanted to bushwhack from the trail at the Marcy/Haystack col through Panther Gorge. Today took care of all three aspirations.



    Rough approximation of the bushwhack and route back over Marcy (appologies for the poor 'stitching' job.

    On the Trail

    Krummholz and I met at the Garden trailhead and began walking at 5:00 a.m., chatting and waking up under an ever lightening sky. It was in the low thirties and brisk, but quite nice. The forecast called for temps in the low 70’s. The sky grew more blue as we discussed possibilities for the day. I ran the idea of the Marcy slide by him if we both felt well and were making good time. He’d previously risen to the idea and we agreed to assess our strength and the time once in the area.

    The time went by quickly as the sun broke the ridgeline and began to heat the air. The chill immediately departed and we eagerly anticipated what lay ahead for the day. Our first trial began at Slant Rock when ice and snow plagued the trail. Neither of us had spikes or traction so we simply took care on the ascent as the snow spine built ever deeper with elevation. A few post holes and thousands of carefully placed steps eventually led to the Marcy/Haystack col at 8:30 a.m. I’d hoped to make the area by 9:00…we were ahead of schedule.


    The elevation began to drop away as we trekked south-southwest. The drainage had several feet of unconsolidated and rotten snow, so we stayed to the west side finding the path of least resistance. It was moderately loose meaning I could easily bend or get my shoulders through the trees. Most intriguing was the up close view of Little Haystack’s western side. The craggy side looks like a shadowed maze of chutes, slides and unique contours from Marcy’s summit. Up close the monstrous boulders/erratics, chutes, cliffs and steep slides take on a whole new light and made me feel insignificant as I looked up to these looming features. My mind wandered to a future exploration of the area even though we were currently in the midst of an exciting trek.


    Marcy’s flank also held our interest with its cliffs, beautiful in the morning sun. I eventually led us to the base of the cliffs where the forest was open, at least for a time. The long grasses that are waist height at the end of summer were non existent at this time. Last years crop was brown underfoot and a bit slippery. The vertical walls and the glacial valley of Panther Gorge as a backdrop were incredible. Under the canopy, we wound around trunks, over some light blowdown and dropped down many a ledge or cluster of boulders draped with ‘hanging lakes’ of moss as Colvin called it. I was truly in awe of the area, Greg and I bantered back and forth amidst our wonder.


    We were far ahead of schedule (even though we were both running on less the 4 hours sleep) so we opted to take a trip to the base of the Grand Central Slide (the right-hand and longest slide of the face). Contouring the slope a few hundred yards away from the cliffs was enjoyable. A few drainages, soft forest floor and some varied ups and downs led us below the near-vertical boulder climbs of the drainage. I recognized them from 2009 when Mark Lowell and I climbed this slide with weather closing in. Today, the sky was cloudless and early morning sun bright. The cascade in the cleft was of moderate flow and I climbed up into it to cool down and assess the crack from within…something I didn’t do in 2009. Greg took a pic for scale. The crack was choked with a rockfall all the way to the top of the cliff. By this time it was 9:40, 4.5 hours from the trailhead.


    Un
    der Marcy's Eastern Face, Southern 'White' Track and Descent down the Southern Slide
    We descended the drainage until coming to a decent ramp on which to re-enter the woods on our journey south. A new rockfall from atop the right-hand side of Marcy’s open face (really a very steep slide more than cliff) left some fresh carnage some 200’ wide and 100’ in length. It effectively stripped the grassy meadow that I found in 2009. Beyond and directly under the face was an open expanse of ground that was to be our route south. It was a dramatic and beautiful area that was peaceful and serene. A few steeper descents were reminiscent of winter hiking…the butt-slide portion. Dead grasses were so slippery underfoot, that I simply sat and slid until coming to rest for the next traverse. I could have fallen asleep and bivouacked in these areas…Marcy’s dark, old exposure ledges above, Haystack across…beaver ponds glistening the the mid-morning sun, soft ground underfoot and great company next to me.

    My questions on whether the southern slide track on the eastern face became less of a concern as we approached the base at 10:30 a.m.. I’d guess it at about 40 degrees with some steeper sections and a band of ledges, the crux, some 250 higher. I asked Greg if he was game, and there was no hesitation…we were committed (take that as you feel appropriate
    ).

    I flipped into rock climbing shoes and took out my length of nylon webbing for emergencies and we were off. The anorthosite was cleaner than the old mossy face just a few feet north. Various ledges and crags led up the slide, while the ‘old’ face held more open pitches. We first had to get up the first pitch of ‘our’ slide however which proved to be a challenge. Down low, there was just enough water and moss on our chosen line along a ledge to make it uncomfortable. We descended to another area and another. Eventually we persevered, my rock shoes making it a bit easier than Greg’s vibram-soled boots.



    Kevin nearing the crux 250' from the bottom.

    The next hundred or so feet was climbing on steep rough and clean rock riddled with small ledges and crags. More than one line presented itself though we stayed close to the main face, following a crag that led upward. Two hundred and fifty feet higher, however, this placed us on the right-hand side of a vertical wall that traverses across the top of the main face, beginning near the Grand Central Slide. Before I jump into the crux climbs, I need to mention the views.


    The sun had climbed high enough to be quite warm, but a strong breeze kept us comfortable. Haystack gleamed like an anorthositic jewel. The beaver ponds looked inviting from afar and Greg talked of paddling, or at least lazing about on a kayak catching some z’s on their surface. The steep face to the north and the curve of the valley and cliffs choked at the col from which we began the bushwhack a couple hours earlier. The dramatic ledges at the top of the face, also above us, lent a humbling feel to the scene and upcoming task.


    To our left and above was the vertical ledge. Probably 15 or so feet in height to the north, it curved down onto our slide track and also decreased in height, from a solid wall to broken ledge sets below us and to our south. I had not desire to climb anything vertical when I was 250’ above the base with a steep pitch of rough stone between. A weakness, however, came into view nearby. Part of the face had sheared away and a few smaller steps led up to a small ledge of grass on which to traverse over to the smaller ledges to the south. We were at the crux of the climb. Greg explored a couple other options before following.



    Greg at the crux.


    Looking up Panther Gorge, even with the top of the main face.

    Once on a more comfortable surface, we climbed to a second crux of sorts, another vertical climb (about 10 feet) up small steps and crags. I jammed my hand into a secure location. Short of my hand detaching from my arm, I felt very comfortable as I gripped the cracks and climbed onto the top of the main run of slide. The pitch decreased slightly as we were now even with the top of the main face (about 4000’ in our location). Greg easily followed and we walked up the remaining 100’ vertical feet of the slide to soak in the views and discuss the rest of the day, which had really only just begun. The time stood at 11:15 a.m.


    After a 15 minute break of re-hydration and food, we left the top of the slide on a heading of 240 degrees (true). I wanted to avoid a fir wave that was directly below our elevation on this heading (which changes as you round the bend). Some 6 minutes later we were out of the woods in the middle of another slide. This slide is the eastern-most and very thin track of the wide slide set on Marcy’s southern face. It was about 35 degrees and obviously old due to the moss cover. A steady stream of water flowed from far above…we were only part way up, but I cared not about the top. This was just a route down. I relaxed as Greg refilled his platypus.



    Our descent down the southern slide track.

    Enough open rock was exposed to make it a safe descent, but we took it slowly and watched our footing carefully. Each pitch led to a cascade which amounted to a drop off a ledge. Some we climbed down and others we descended in the woods. It was quite enjoyable…how could it not be? The slope declined as we neared the main drainage from the primary set of slides (about 1800’ across in whole). At noon, we emerged into the main drainage just below a set of ledges where I
    ate breakfast in 2010 before climbing this set.

    A fifteen minute bushwhack over to the path from the Four Corners and quick descent down the trail led us to Panther Gorge Leanto at 12:25 where we relaxed and prepped for the main event…the bushwhack of Skylight.
    Last edited by mudrat; 01-17-2013, 06:54 PM.

  • Gregory Karl
    replied
    Originally posted by Rik
    Yeah, something like that. Once upon a time an epic meant being gone for years. So long your spouse considered remarrying. Now we apply the tag to daytrips which we contrive to make more difficult. Just funny is all...
    Just sitting here drinking some awesome orange juice and doing my part for adjectival devaluation! (I got your point and had a chuckle.) Yes, it's not The Odyssey.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gregory Karl
    replied
    Originally posted by Rik
    Just the idea of an epic daytrip is comical to me...
    Oh good, you're awake! Jumbo shrimp? Tiny mountain? World's tallest dwarf?

    Leave a comment:


  • Gregory Karl
    replied
    Great report on an epic trip, Kevin!

    Leave a comment:


  • mudrat
    replied
    Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
    Can you elaborate a little more about the bushwhack off the main trail and down along the west side of the Gorge? Just follow the path of least resistance (except for cliffs) or is there a specific route you recommend?
    Thanks.
    Some prior accounts/recommendations talked of staying away from the drainage. It definitely tightens upon approach to it, at least at the top. This is completely normal for many drainage streams. I think staying out of that was also in reference to finding an ice route in the cliffs.

    The first 10 minutes was quite tight. There was never any specific route...not enough traffic, but there were some openings in the trees that were more attractive than others. We navigated through them on a sw heading (more or less). We then decided to explore below the first cliffs on the right (west) which had some open ground beneath. Beyond that, we used line of sight nav toward Grand Central base and just wound our way downward through the most convenient openings until intersecting the drainage from Grand C. I recognized that right away from my last time in the area.

    Leave a comment:


  • Trail Boss
    replied
    What an adventure! Congratulations to you both and many thanks for the TR and photos. 20+ miles and over 6500' ascent; you guys are hardcore.

    I'm very intrigued by your descent into Panther Gorge. This is a little dream of mine that I hope to realize some day. That grassy stretch below the slider is prettier than I ever imagined. Can you elaborate a little more about the bushwhack off the main trail and down along the west side of the Gorge? Just follow the path of least resistance (except for cliffs) or is there a specific route you recommend?

    Leave a comment:


  • krummholz
    replied
    Originally posted by mudrat View Post
    It was awesome and so relaxing. Haven't been up spire yet, but i know where it is. This was low on my priority list but Krummholz and I were talking about it and I got psyched for the bushwhack. I went up this side to check out the bowl/ledges/etc. We thought it would be more dramatic than it was. Slide was coincidental and about what i expected...rubble, 15-20' wide and 600' feet long (by google earth). It reminded me of a smaller version of twin slide's southern trib, though more narrow.
    I agree. The slide itself wasn't really part of the goal, it was more a matter of "This looks like an interesting route that doesn't seem to get much exploration. Why not check it out." The first two stages (stream and rubble slide) were actually quite pleasant with some incredible, unique perspectives on the mtns to the east, but I have to admit the upper bowl was like being beaten by soccer hooligans with belt sanders and pipes.

    Leave a comment:


  • mudrat
    replied
    Originally posted by mastergrasshopper View Post
    your still wearing slide goggles still a great day out there. Have you seen the "real" slide up the spire ?
    MG
    It was awesome and so relaxing. Haven't been up spire yet, but i know where it is. This was low on my priority list but Krummholz and I were talking about it and I got psyched for the bushwhack. I went up this side to check out the bowl/ledges/etc. We thought it would be more dramatic than it was. Slide was coincidental and about what i expected...rubble, 15-20' wide and 600' feet long (by google earth). It reminded me of a smaller version of twin slide's southern trib, though more narrow.

    Leave a comment:


  • mastergrasshopper
    replied
    slide goggles

    Originally posted by mudrat View Post
    Howdy!
    Look to the south and adjacent to the main drainage. We climbed an actual slide (600 map feet) of rubble with a little bit of open anorthosite. Granted, it's hardly glorious, but it's a slide. It shows up better on the DEC images.
    your still wearing slide goggles still a great day out there. Have you seen the "real" slide up the spire ?
    MG

    Leave a comment:


  • krummholz
    replied
    Originally posted by mastergrasshopper View Post
    long way to get Sky. Are you now working on longest approach 46 ?
    I've been up on ridge overlooking your so called "slide" looks much more slide like in the winter with 10 ft. of snow. The real and only slide for Sky is the slide up to the "spire" the knob to the south west of summit. You must of seen it up close when you did the redfield slide a few years ago.
    I sat on top of the spire but have not climbed the slide.
    MG
    A few of these pics might shed some light on it. I hit Pinnacle and Lookout Rock a few weeks ago when we were initially discussing going in from the Marcy Brook tributary.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7715329...7629478046802/

    The snow obviously adds some definition, but they're definitely rubbly slides. The pics are pretty low res unfortunately but you can kinda get the idea of what we were imagining it might be like.....

    Leave a comment:


  • Neil
    replied
    Originally posted by mudrat View Post
    ...and pyramid.

    I defy anyone to top that one!

    Btw, I think you and I nailed Gothics.

    Leave a comment:


  • mudrat
    replied
    Originally posted by Neil View Post
    Hmmmmm....you just might be on to something.

    The 46-LBA (LBA=longest bushwhack approach). I think I already have Gray and maybe even Whiteface.
    ...and pyramid.

    Leave a comment:


  • Neil
    replied
    Originally posted by mastergrasshopper View Post
    long way to get Sky. Are you now working on longest approach 46 ?
    Hmmmmm....you just might be on to something.

    The 46-LBA (LBA=longest bushwhack approach). I think I already have Gray and maybe even Whiteface.

    Leave a comment:


  • mudrat
    replied
    Originally posted by mastergrasshopper View Post
    long way to get Sky. Are you now working on longest approach 46 ?
    I've been up on ridge overlooking your so called "slide" looks much more slide like in the winter with 10 ft. of snow. The real and only slide for Sky is the slide up to the "spire" the knob to the south west of summit. You must of seen it up close when you did the redfield slide a few years ago.
    I sat on top of the spire but have not climbed the slide.
    MG
    Howdy!
    Look to the south and adjacent to the main drainage. We climbed an actual slide (600 map feet) of rubble with a little bit of open anorthosite. Granted, it's hardly glorious, but it's a slide. It shows up better on the DEC images.

    Leave a comment:


  • mastergrasshopper
    replied
    nice

    long way to get Sky. Are you now working on longest approach 46 ?
    I've been up on ridge overlooking your so called "slide" looks much more slide like in the winter with 10 ft. of snow. The real and only slide for Sky is the slide up to the "spire" the knob to the south west of summit. You must of seen it up close when you did the redfield slide a few years ago.
    I sat on top of the spire but have not climbed the slide.
    MG

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X