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Mt Colden's Cruciflyer, 09/04/2021

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  • Mt Colden's Cruciflyer, 09/04/2021

    I had a day to go sliding by myself this last Saturday, and I have had a few on deck that I have researched and readied for. One of which is the Cruciflyer, and I headed to South Meadows Lane to go for it. This one has probably the least info out there available, whether it be from past trips or pictures or articles, compared to a few other slides I'm planning for, but felt confident going into it leaning on a little beta from the forum here as well as some good info from Dennis, including his report being the latest and then further back from Mudrat and Old Goat's writes.
    After saying hi to some hikers towards the end of the lane on Saturday morning and getting started on my way in on the gravelly path, I threw in an earbud to make the truck trail go quicker, and soon was at the dam getting a glimpse of the slide on Colden's shoulder. The next mile or so went fast and after going past Avalanche Slide in the pass I was really surprised to see the Cruciflyer's bottom from the trail; the bunch of other times I had been through there I had never noticed it. I don't know why but Saturday I walked past what is probably the easiest short bushwhack up into it (where you can first see it clearly from the trail). Instead I went a little further down the trail toward the lake, perhaps wondering if the trees would thin out a bit to get to the slide, and when they didn't I clambered over the rotted chest high obstacle course to the drainage; once up in there I looked back down and could see hikers passing by on the trail.
    I knew there had been a bunch of rain earlier the last week but after what I thought was a good stretch of rain-free days could see much more wet rock than I had expected. Soon after starting up the slide's "V" I was wet to my knees and my elbows, though it wasn't too big a deal at that point with the visual feast feeding me right off the bat. I gained some good elevation to start down in the wedge of the slide, as well as sometimes going up the right slab a bit when the features allowed on wet slope.
    This slide was the one where so far I most weighed my route ahead in terms of my ability and if I could back down if need be. The sloped climber's right was wet throughout down low, with the moisture running down out of the moss and other vegetation on the edge trying to take back the open rock. I am thinking I probably did the same two whack-arounds that Dennis had done on his trip in there; at times there was allowed some progress up the V and the slab just to its right just to have one's route stopped, in part due to lack of holds or features or the presence of excess moisture. The second time I had to turn back down and whack around up on the right edge I had stepped over from the wet slab over into the V itself using a small wet foothold going uphill to a wet ledge in the running water down in the crease. After awhile I lost possible ascent up the V, and I had to back down to the small wet ledge and foothold, and found myself staring at that small foothold, that was still wet but now going back downhill towards the edge of the slab, that was still a good dangerous distance up on a steep wet slab above the wedge of the V way down below, and I still couldn't find comfortable handholds to make that pass back over to where I had come from any degree of comfortable. Before I had made that move across a little while prior, I noticed an escape route descending down 2 more small ledges that would allow getting to area definitely enabling a traverse over to the right edge of the slab. After placing the edge of my shoe, as well as the toes of my shoe, on that small wet downhill foothold at least 5 times, I knew I shouldn't unweight my back foot and decided to drop down the ledges instead. However, this area was steep enough that preparing to descend while wearing my pack I kept bumping the rock and unbalancing, and felt extremely uncomfortable in the moment. I decided to take off my pack and drop it down to the next lower ledge, and letting it go as softly and carefully as possible it landed 5-7 feet down on the first ledge but then bounced down another 5-7 feet to the next landing which was basically a good sized puddle just a hair deeper than my pack itself. How ironic was it that I had brought my pack liner but had not stuffed my bag's contents into it, as it was not raining. After quickly but not dryly descending the ledges to my pack I grabbed it out of the water, and luckily realized any important electronics and contents were either on my body, in my pockets or in a tiny drysack within my pack.
    After reslinging my now soaked bag i climbed up to the right to the vegetation, and started ascending the mossy slope. I had not yet been on any growth like that before, the moss must have been over a foot thick in places and felt like walking on the fluffiest weirdest pillows, and at such an exhausting steep angle I hoped they wouldn't detach from the rock face sending me and them down into the V. I have had a feeling of anxiety on a couple slides, usually toward an exit, where the route i take is sloped so much and the vegetation there appears to barely be clinging to the rock so delicately, that I almost want to hold my breath and tread as lightly as possible to avoid causing more of it to slide down the mountain with me on it. Luckily this did not happen on Saturday, and I realized that some other human had taken this work-around at some point in the past when I found a Nikon camera lens cover on this stretch. After gaining some elevation around really wet and seemingly featureless slab rock i was able to get back down into the V, and before too long found that the slide was turning more into the "normal" grippy slide slab rock that fortunately got a bit dryer . There was a nice large landing where I refueled and donned my rock shoes, and climbed some bulges and aretes, and some terrifically long cracks. I believe it was while straddling an arete, changing from left to right sides of the bulge, that I found the perfect two bowling ball finger holes in the rock. I found a really neat dike running up towards the headwall, and using this for progress I came upon amazing pink rock filling the divide between the whiter grippy slab rock.
    As I got closer to the headwall the slab was getting wetter, and just below it I leaned left towards the small strip of vegetation and tiny trees just to the side of a several foot high ledge. I climbed up to have a look over, but remembering Mudrat's initial report it definitely looked wetter and dirtier than I felt comfortable with, and so carefully tread back across the ledge to the right below the headwall. The exposure seemed intense on Saturday on this ledge due to how much moisture there was on the rock and the distance at this point straight down towards the V part of the slide, but the rock had much more grip than it looked like it should have had, and after traversing to a perfect spot to sit down on while changing back to my trail runners I enjoyed some last looks down the slope of the Cruciflyer.
    What a terrific workout it was, probably more so than any hike or slide climb I have done before. As Dennis had stated in his report, it was obvious it worked one's lats and triceps, and for the next few days I started knowing i needed to work more also on my abdominals and chest muscles as they were sore too. This slide had the most interesting rock features I have seen yet. Not just from the whole of it's enormous V shaped cut down low to its upper "normal" exposed slide slabs, but also on a closer level to it's dike rocks as well as tiny serrated grey rocks sporadically sticking out of the white rock like little slicing knives. As usual on my latest slide's on Saturday I also was kicking myself for not remembering my latex dipped gloves, as my fingers and hands had their fair share of cuts by the time i exited the Cruciflyer.
    Like my last solo slide climb this summer (Back in the Saddle), my exit bushwhack did not include a nice defined herdpath until the very end. Instead this point of my trip definitely gave this slide climb it's "Type 2 Fun" kind of rating, with a heinous bushwhack. "Femur-Eating" is a good term MtnManJohn used from his whack on the other side of this same mountain on the same day, however on this stretch I was also worried about impaling certain areas of my body when I was fearing the deterioration of a fallen log had gotten so bad it wouldn't be able to stand the weight of my body and I would instantly lose 3-4 feet of elevation, stopping only on the trunk of a tree spotted with small remnants of branches. Uninjuriously I gained the obvious ridge between the slide and false summit, and luckily the path started thinning out, and with sodhole-trepidation dissipating I began to anticipate the Little Colden and its openness, and after about an hour of stumbling uphill I stepped onto a highway of a herdpath within 10 feet of the open summit rocks. As I burst out of the brush, exhausted and probably swearing and mumbling while covered in pine needles and dirt and blood and sweat, there was a couple of hikers there already at the false summit, just staring at me while I made my heroic return back to trailed humanity. After acknowledging their existence, I sat down for a good while refueling and taking in the views of the Macintyre's range, and felt the full effects of endorphins and serotonin, gaining great amounts of happiness and appreciation for the moment I was in.
    Working my way up to the Colden's true summit area, and meeting some other hikers including some of whom were also taking part in the 46climbs fundraiser, I sat for a bit up top, taking in the different aspects on an extremely beautiful day. After awhile moving down just a bit back towards Little Colden I took the hidden herdpath to the top of the 1990 Slide. I contemplated taking this route down on Saturday, as I had ascended the slide earlier this year, and standing there at the edge of the cripplebrush I could hear voices from a peculiar direction (earlier this week realizing it was from MtnManJohn and Jimbo). I decided not to descend that slide on Saturday for several reasons, in no particular order they included not wanting to "dilute" the take from the Cruciflyer's ascent but also being a bit tired from letting my fitness slip the last few weeks while knowing there would be an ascent up the trail from the base of that slide up to Lake Arnold's area on a route I don't particularly like. So then taking the trail back to Little Colden from the 1990 Slide's herdpath, I sat for awhile again on the open rock before descending down to Lake Arnold, and then took one last break for the trip at the beautiful little off-trail waterfall prior to the Indian Falls crossover junction.

    I am taking part in the 46climbs fundraiser for a close reason, and ask and urge any readers of this lengthy report to check it out and donate any amount if you are able to, through any participating climber or participating yourself while there are a few days left in the event; your donation will be appreciated I assure you. I believe the purpose of this fundraising climb heightened the realization on Saturday, that at times in hikes or climbs, or maybe any situation when one has challenged oneself successfully, allowing one to appreciate their ability to participate in something incredible like summiting a mountain and in a place like that and on such a beautiful day, it is really a feeling that words can not do justice towards.
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    "...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

  • #2
    Terrific write-up! I felt like I was back there again. The exit from the slide to the right of the headwall required some caution.


    • #3
      Nice report.
      Looks like from the V section picture you show is it is picking up some moss.
      We had climbed it before but always just as an up and down.


      • #4
        Comparing the pics from the older reports on the forum here to what i saw 2 weekends ago, the Cruciflyer's rock is really getting taken back by vegetation; the slab on climber's right of V section was super speckled by moss, and the thick "carpeting" on the edge is really reaching down towards the cut in spots.
        "...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