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Nippletop Slide: 2013 July 21...The Scenic Route

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  • Nippletop Slide: 2013 July 21...The Scenic Route

    Round-trip distance: 13.5 miles
    Total elevation gain: 4,600 feet
    Distance to slide: 6 miles
    Length of slide: 3,350 feet
    Elevation gain: 1,550 feet

    For clarity, I break the slide into 3 sections: 1: Footwall area (followed by choke point), 2: Larger ledge set (followed by choke point), 3: Primary run. Background picture taken in 2012 from Colvin. Pics of me by Rich McKenna in 2007.


    Just a quick report this time, but enough to get the gist of the day

    I like early starts; they leave time for alternative route options and for the unexpected. Friends from Florida (Mike and Kim) were visiting and wanted an adventure. We settled on Nippletop Slide as an option. A geology major (Sam Hecklau) from St. Lawrence University working on his senior year thesis, the geology of exposures normally covered in soil (slides), also came along. We met at 6:45 a.m. and began the trek along the scenic approach via Indian Head and Fishhawks Cliffs. My last time up Nippletop Slide was several years back with Rich McKenna after an untraditional approach that ascended Colvin and Blake then descended Blake Slide and trekked up West Inlet Brook to Nippletop.

    The miles ticked away quickly with good conversation and a flurry of bad puns, most of which didnt come from me for a change! Id taken Mike up the Trap Dike twice in past years as well as Gothics True North Slide in winter. He knew what was at hand. Kim, having never been in the Adirondacks, was a bit overwhelmed as we broke out of the woods onto the top of Indian Head. Its been a few years since I took the time to overlook the lake, so it was a welcome sight.

    Fast forward to Elk Pass at 10:15 a.m. We meandered along the wetlands and down into the maw of the pass along a well-cut trail from last Decembers rescue. A few of the trees were cut diagonally, so we took care with our footing amongst the sodholes and rotten blowdown. A bit farther down, we refilled our water supply just below a large cliff on the other side of West Inlet Brook. About 30 up on a grassy ramp, I found our first glance at the slides upper exposure. Ten minutes later at about 11:30, we were eating lunch below the footwall. Being in this location was like visiting an old friend that you havent seen in half a decade.

    Herdpath and cutting.

    Sam began testing various samples and measuring the features immediately. I found a comfy nook to relax in. Kim eyed the wall hesitantly, though she hid it well. The footwall can be quite intimidating; I remember the feeling. Its weakness lies to the right after a series of exposed wet ramps.

    Atop the wall, I sat in the deepest pool of water I could find while waiting for everyone to catch up. It felt good under the full glare of the sun. The slide gets overtaken by trees just above; I led us to the right-most corridor (there are two). The left leads to a bushwhack along the slide (read "To Hell and Back Again by Rich McKenna), but not to open rock.

    More ledges awaited beyond. Sam climbed up the right-hand side while continuing to sample this and that while I advised Mike/Kim to bushwhack to the left around the ledges. I climbed a small chimney along the left-hand side, though the central wall looked like a fun, if not mossy, challenge.

    Fun near the fracture near the top of the footwall.

    Small chimney in section 2 of the slide.

    Another bushwhack led to the unobstructed primary run of the slide. Ledges, fractures and a small headwall of ledges came underfoot over the next couple hundred vertical feet. I think the challenges were a little overwhelming for Kim as a first-timer, but she did well especially after donning my rock climbing shoesthey really instill confidence compared to trail runners. Id packed a harness and small rope in case of emergency, but she balked at the idea.

    Just before the top of the pitch, things got spicy. She was climbing low to the slide on all fours. As a result she managed to scrape a small piece of scree with a protrusiona razor sharp protrusion. I suddenly heard, Guys, I cut myself. She didnt sound urgent, so I took my time crossing to her. She let go of her arm and exposed a 1.5 inch gash that cut through all the dermal/subdermal layers. It was hanging open about ΒΌ and bleeding well.

    We closed it, dressed it well and continued the climb. Two rubble fields and about 700 feet later, we were at the top of the slide approaching the ledges and double-fall line of the gully. It was nearing 5:00 p.m. We were on the track for longer than I expected, but wed allowed enough time--darkness was no issue.

    Atop the slide, we followed the herdpath to a cliff and stayed right. I climbed left last time only to find myself on a near vertical slope clinging to blue-berry bushes. The intermittent path led to loosely knit trees. Some twenty minutes later, we were basking under a low-angled sun eating dinner. What a way to cap the day!

    Kevin and Sam on the third section near the bottom. Pic by Kim Ellison.

    Kim & Mike nearing a mid-slide crux before the slope lays down.

    It was dark by the time we reached the Lake Road, just 3.5 miles from the summit. My original houghts of following the Gill Brook Trail and photographing the flumes and falls would have to wait for another day. Almost 16 hours later, we reached the trailheadworn out, but full of good memories. Moving fast with intent would certainly cut the duration, but it was nice to take our time along a scenic route and spend hours on the slide!

    Last...few...feet before the ridge bushwhack.

    Dinner time!
    Last edited by mudrat; 11-28-2020, 11:48 AM.
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

  • #2
    Thanks, Kevin. Heading there next weekend. Love the pics...
    #8335W, Solo Winter 46
    Catskill 35 (SSW) #1235
    ADK Quest #119
    HPWA All-Trails #8 (solo)
    NE 111 113/115

    NPT 2019, Trans ADK Route 2021


    • #3
      Originally posted by moosebeware View Post
      Thanks, Kevin. Heading there next weekend. Love the pics...
      Yupper! Enjoy it, it's a beautiful route!
      May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.


      • #4
        Thanks for the TR! That's one on my to-do list!
        Looking for Views!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
          Thanks for the TR! That's one on my to-do list!
          It's a classic, Taras. I think you'd really enjoy this. It's on my winter 'to do' list this year as well.
          May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.