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Trap Dike SLU Peak Weekend: 2013 September 21

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  • Trap Dike SLU Peak Weekend: 2013 September 21

    Just a quick trip report from a great day a couple weeks ago!

    I created the mosaic below as a souvenir for each of the participants.

    Climbers: Samuel Hecklau, Jace Mullen, William Hearty, Eric McIntyre, Caitlin Kelly, Margaret Chandler, Sophie Janeway, Alexander Ball, Kevin MacKenzie.

    Additional Photos on Facebook at:

    I wrote this for SLU's website, but figured I'd put it here as well. I missed going up the dike last year, so this was a nice return to one of my favourite scrambles/climbs. It simply never gets old!


    I fretted about the weather for a few days prior to this trip since the forecasts heralded rain sometime over the weekend. The timing, however, seemed to bounce around significantly (Thank you to my wife Deb who had an eye on the radar for me!). Rain and the Trap Dike just don't make a safe combination! Finally, it looked like a window of opportunity opened as I checked the internet during the evening of the 20th. The following morning, I scowled at the heavy clouds clinging to Colden, Algonquin and a host of other nearby peaks.

    Beginning at about 7:30 a.m., the group set a good pace in the blustery yet warm weather. We covered the five miles to Avalanche Lake in about 1 hour 45 minutes taking a quick break at the northern edge. A SSW blew strongly down the length of the lake as we climbed on the boulders and hitch-up Matildas (boardwalks anchored in Avalanche Mountain) along the western shore. Erik readied a rack of cams and rope (a precautionary measure) when we arrived at the base of the dike while some of us refilled our water supply at the base of the dike. We were climbing by about 10:15 a.m.

    The cloud ceiling held at around 3,000 feet in elevation when we began, lifting as we ascended. Also (and to my delight) there wasn’t a waterfall cascading down like so many other times I’ve visited the dike. This made both climbing and my job as photographer a bit easier. The first several hundred vertical feet of ascent is easy--scrambling up blocky steps of basalt. It leads to what is called the ‘Crux’, a seemingly vertical tier of steps, some of which can be loose and slippery.

    This is usually the first test of nerves for those new to the dike. I climbed first and assumed my usual perch on a platform of stone at the top. No one hesitated and all went well. The rope and cams wouldn’t be needed, but I was still thankful they were handy. Shortly after, a few veins of quartz and a large toad captured our interest and gave me a chance to catch my breath.

    A few hundred vertical feet higher, we passed the massive piece of anorthosite that moved off the mountain in 2011 when Tropical Storm Irene created the “Trap Dike Slide”, the highest slide that leads directly to the summit.

    The slide is mostly clean which makes for good friction climbing. What mud is still leftover lies primarily in small obvious clumps except just below the headwall…the top segment of slab. Different students chose different routes up the footwall of the slide as they exited the Trap Dike. By now, I’d taken over 200 photos and made great use of the SLU banner that Sam kept in his pack. We finally broke through the cloud ceiling at about 4,300 feet in elevation…they’d lifted over 1,000 feet since the beginning of the climb. The top of the slide was wet and visibility dropped to around 75 feet. Moments later after a short bushwhack, we were seated on the summit proper celebrating a successful and safe climb! The time was only 11:45 a.m.

    The summit was under assault by strong winds, something we largely avoided in the protection of the dike and even on the slide. After eating a snack and taking some interesting summit photos, we began the trek down the muddy trail to the north summit. It was there that the sun finally decided to make a bold appearance…better late than never.

    Fast forward about 45 minutes to lunch along the shore of Lake Arnold. The wind still had a presence, but was much tamer. A relaxed walk out found us back at the trailhead at a bit before 5:00 p.m.
    May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

  • #2
    I remember when you climbed it a couple of weeks after it came down in '11. Rainy, foggy, wet ..... i think the day before that unfortunate accident happened at the Crux. I was using your report as beta for the climb I was doing the following weekend, when conditions were far improved from the previous week. BTW, do you have the photos of your airplane recon of the ADK slides posted anywhere yet?


    • #3
      Looks like it was a great day... even if it was for SLU!


      (all rivalries aside, SLU puts some pretty cool people on the summits each peak weekend. I love running into them when I hike that weekend)
      "I saw a squirrel!" - GIR


      • #4
        masshysteria: Yeah, it was the day after; we saw backpacks still in there. No one had any idea of the tragedy that occurred the day before. I'm never actually the 'leader' since i'm the hired photographer, but until this year I'm usually the only member that's been up the dike before. It was after that day that I really started pushing hard that someone other than myself needed to have rock climbing shoes and the leader(s) needed to bring pro...just in case. Since then, a SLU certified guide has accompanied the group. That's made the entire endeavor safe and my job easier! Of course not climbing it in the rain is smart too

        Twas a strong group this year.

        FlyingCow: Doh!
        May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.


        • #5
          Hey...I so enjoy your photos - you are a very talented photographer. Keep them coming! JK
          An OLD man once said …There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of LIFE, getting back up is LIVING.


          • #6
            Tragedy? What happened?
            #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


            • #7
              ADK Ladies: Thanks as always!
              Moosebeware: A Binghampton student died in a fall...very very sad.
              May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.



              • #8
                Awesome pictures as usual, Kevin. Those are lucky kids!