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Grace via the Greatless

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  • Grace via the Greatless

    Ever since descending the Great Slide in 2008 on a backpacking trip, I have dreamed of visiting again to climb it. As Grace peak was an orphan for my winter round, plans came together to climb this with friends Grant and Duncan.

    We drove out to the North Fork Boquet and located the trailhead with little difficulty. Finding the start of the trail was a little harder in the dark, but after finding the path and after following this for a bit past some campsites, we lost all sense of a trail anyway. According to the register no one had been in this area for several weeks, and we definitely saw no sign of recent human activity. Compass out, we switched to bushwhack mode and made our way through and across the numerous streams, swamps, and open wooded areas of this area. Many stream crossings were made on rocks and ice flows, with a couple spots where the ice collapsed harmlessly underfoot. At some point we picked up a trail again along the South Fork Boquet, and this made travel a little easier except for a few areas of mass blowdown which required some diversions.

    As we approached our goal, we angled up and away from the drainage, through the open woods, as we went around the mountain towards the North-West flank where I knew the slide lay. We came to a big gully with some nasty spruce trees blocking progress and I checked our position by shooting bearings off the visible peaks of Hough and the Beckhorn. We determined we were one gully over from the slide, so climbed a little higher before finally finding a way to push through the spruce at a good place to contour around. Another bunch of open woods whacking ensued, until finally, as my friends were beginning to doubt that there really was a slide on this mountain, we topped over a ridge, pushed through another dense band of trees, and mercifully stepped out onto an open slide.

    Crusty snow on top of ice was the conditions, so we pulled out our axes and climbed the first low angle section in our snowshoes, until we hit some more significant ice where snowshoes were not cutting it anymore. We changed to crampons here, but in retrospect should have done it earlier as there was no real good ledge to do this on, and changing footwear on a slope was somewhat awkward. Continuing on upward we stuck mostly to the snow which gave good purchase for both feet and axe plunges, crossing the slide back and forth, sometimes choosing different lines depending on our comfort level for the exposure. A couple of delicate moves presented themselves, where focus was required, but in general it was a really secure and fun climb. There was also lots of low grade technical ice available too be climbed but not having a rope, we skirted around these sections. As we neared the top, the slide got steeper, but "ledgier". A few grunt moves to pull up some of the ledges, and then we were at the top and into some incredibly dense cripplebrush.

    We pushed upwards through this by swimming, squirming, and cursing. I commented that I did not remember this part... I thought the slide went right to the top of the mountain. In fact, I could see the bare rock of the top of mountain twenty meters above us, so there was nothing more to do but spend the next half hour or so trying to unlock the puzzle of getting our bodies and snowshoe strapped packs through this mess. Finally I got to the point where I could almost touch freedom. The last two meters felt a little bit like it must feel to be born into the world, with my head finally pushing through into open air, followed by my shoulders. Some more wriggling and pushing got my arms free, and then finally as my hips cleared the bush, I was spat out onto a gloriously open rock ledge. Duncan and Grant found a possibly easier way around my struggles, but I then had a lovely rock chimney to scramble up to the summit ridge which they missed.

    We high fived and looked down... seeing now that there are two parallel slides on this mountain. Oops, we climbed the wrong one! I have searched the internet on this second slide, but can find no name for it. Close study of the USGS map shows this second one so it obviously has been around for a while. I am calling it the Greatless slide as it is much like the Great slide, but not quite as great because of the horrendous finish.

    We scratched across the rocks in our crampons to the summit block, and then settled down in the lee of this for a few minutes to refuel. We originally had thought of maybe adding another peak or two of the range to this hike, but the forecasted bad weather for late afternoon was starting to move in, so we decided it was probably a better idea to get out of Dodge while the going was still good. As we packed up to go, Duncan found that one of his poles had been literally ripped off of his pack (attachment point and all) at some point of during squirm through the bushes. If anyone cares to repeat this climb and comes across a pole in the most unlikely location, I am sure Duncan would be eternally grateful to get it back.

    Without too much difficulty, we found the herd path back down into the valley, and snowshoe skied this, losing elevation very quickly. Fifteen minutes later, we were back down on the lower slabs of the true Great slide, which we followed a little further downwards until we cut through the woods and across the base of the Greatless slide. Some joking comments were made of climbing it again to rescue a pole, but a few bursts of light rain had us moving again back towards civilization. We whacked on through the open woods contouring around the mountain until we found our track from the morning, at which point the navigational mind could shut itself off as we followed this all the way home.

    One last bit of excitement ended our day as we made the final crossing of the river. Grant stepped onto an ice shelf which collapsed, dropping him waist deep into the water. He rolled onto another ice shelf which then also collapsed, plunging the rest of him in. With a lot of cursing and a bit of a walrus move, he got himself onto a rock and climbed out, soaking wet, but unharmed. Pretty much right at that moment the rain decided to come down hard too, adding insult to the injury. Fortunately we were only about ten minutes from the car, so we just motored (Grant squelching in his sloshingly full boots) the last stretch ending our ten hour day.

    Pictures: http://web.ncf.ca/mbowler/hiking/adk...020/grace.html

  • #2
    Yea, you definitely weren't on the main route. Too bad about Grant and am glad he wasn't hurt. Nice photos. What axes were you using?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Old Hunter View Post
      What axes were you using?
      We all climbed with straight shafted mountain axes. They worked great in the snow as shaft plunges were generally secure. An ice tool or two would have allowed for a more direct line up some of the fatter ice sections.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by mbowler View Post
        We all climbed with straight shafted mountain axes. They worked great in the snow as shaft plunges were generally secure. An ice tool or two would have allowed for a more direct line up some of the fatter ice sections.
        Thanks. Was one of those wood? I still use my old Swiss wood axe. Its indestructible if a bit heavy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Scary situation going through the ice, but 10mins from car is surely the best time if any for that to happen.
          Thanks for the report and pics.
          However, hate to break it to you about naming rights to that slide....if you are talking about the slide over to climber's left of the great slide, I believe drew haas has it as "not so great" slide or something like that, but I have also seen it called the zipper slide at a few locations online, I think at least once or twice on this forum.
          "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
          "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Old Hunter View Post

            Thanks. Was one of those wood? I still use my old Swiss wood axe. Its indestructible if a bit heavy.
            Ha, ha! No all modern aluminium shaft, steel heads. B rated.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by bikerhiker View Post
              However, hate to break it to you about naming rights to that slide....if you are talking about the slide over to climber's left of the great slide, I believe drew haas has it as "not so great" slide or something like that, but I have also seen it called the zipper slide at a few locations online, I think at least once or twice on this forum.
              I have no doubt it has an actual name... just can't find it. Hopefully Mudrat will chime in and set the record straight.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mbowler View Post

                Ha, ha! No all modern aluminium shaft, steel heads. B rated.
                I wasn't sure. The one photo had me wondering. Thanks.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mbowler View Post
                  We pushed upwards through this by swimming, squirming, and cursing. I commented that I did not remember this part... I thought the slide went right to the top of the mountain. In fact, I could see the bare rock of the top of mountain twenty meters above us, so there was nothing more to do but spend the next half hour or so trying to unlock the puzzle of getting our bodies and snowshoe strapped packs through this mess. Finally I got to the point where I could almost touch freedom. The last two meters felt a little bit like it must feel to be born into the world, with my head finally pushing through into open air, followed by my shoulders. Some more wriggling and pushing got my arms free, and then finally as my hips cleared the bush, I was spat out onto a gloriously open rock ledge. Duncan and Grant found a possibly easier way around my struggles, but I then had a lovely rock chimney to scramble up to the summit ridge which they missed.
                  Congratulations

                  When I read this paragraph I was wondering if you had climbed the Zipper Slide, You Did. It is named in Barbara McMartin's Discover the HIgh Peaks(pg 159 1st edition 1989). Not named in Drew Haas' Slide Guide there the two are just called "Great Slide".

                  I had a similar experience in winter. Once the rock ran out it was very slow going.


                  We've climbed it several times in dry conditions there is kind of a path to follow to get out. That is if you know where it is. We consider it is a lot better slide than the Great Slide as slides go.

                  Don
                  Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 01-27-2020, 07:01 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks Don! Zipper slide it was indeed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mbowler View Post
                      ... I have searched the internet on this second slide, but can find no name for it. ...
                      The internet has it here: https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/495077373
                      Looking for Views!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
                        I been using Mapbuilder in Caltopo because the dashed lines showing the trails show and print better.

                        It would be nice if the slide outlines appeared with the Mapbuilder Option. There it's blurred.

                        Then I checked Openstreet and I see. The option to have trails and the slides outline together wasn't there.
                        Last edited by Hear the Footsteps; 01-30-2020, 09:17 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          How about this:
                          In Caltopo, select OpenStreetMap as the base map, then add two overlays: Contours and MapBuilder. The resulting map is high-contrast and renders well as a hard-copy (even a black and white hard-copy).

                          Example showing slides on Mount Colden:
                          https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.1...b=om&a=c%2Cmba

                          Caltopo's MapBuilder Overlay is derived from OpenStreetMap's data. So MapBuilder's trails will be identical to OSM's. Wherever you may see a difference means that OSM's version (of the trail) has changed and Caltopo hasn't imported it yet.
                          Looking for Views!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
                            How about this:
                            In Caltopo, select OpenStreetMap as the base map, then add two overlays: Contours and MapBuilder. The resulting map is high-contrast and renders well as a hard-copy (even a black and white hard-copy).

                            Example showing slides on Mount Colden:
                            https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=44.1...b=om&a=c%2Cmba

                            Caltopo's MapBuilder Overlay is derived from OpenStreetMap's data. So MapBuilder's trails will be identical to OSM's. Wherever you may see a difference means that OSM's version (of the trail) has changed and Caltopo hasn't imported it yet.
                            That is much better. Thanks Trail Boss!!
                            Don

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mbowler View Post

                              I have no doubt it has an actual name... just can't find it. Hopefully Mudrat will chime in and set the record straight.
                              Just seeing this (I'm so far behind in reading LOL). That actually has a name in Drew Haas' aerial Slide Guide. It's called the "Not So Great" slide...so your darn close on the name!
                              May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

                              www.adirondackmountaineering.com

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