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Mossy Cliff Whiteface Bushwhack with slides.

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  • Mossy Cliff Whiteface Bushwhack with slides.

    I had to go back for Whiteface because when I did it with the Rankins via the Ski Hill slides Randomscooter said it didn’t count as a bushwhack. I defended it as a bushwhack because at times the goldenrod was so high under the chairlift that we had trouble reading the numbers on the chairs. So, for this re-climb I decided to invert the route and add on Moss Cliff. Tom, Laurie and I had ascended via Ski Slide #1 and descended the Lake Placid Slide.

    I left my car in the Whiteface parking lot and peddled a bike 3 miles and 325 vertical feet up the road. My ass was sore when I got to the Copperas Pond trailhead. I had checked out the river from a more eastern parking area, most likely where the rock climbers park, but after scouting it out decided I didn’t like the looks of the water. At the Copperas pullout the water was nice and slack but also fairly deep. I wore my slide shoes with no footbeds or socks and my underwear. In spite of giving myself a serious wedgy (or snuggy if you prefer) my undies got soaked anyway. Also, I could easily have done it barefoot across the sandy bottom.

    The trouble with this crossing location was that now I would have to backtrack a half-mile downstream to get to the east end of Moss Cliff. I was tempted to forego the potential views of the cliffs and just go directly north up to the summit from where I was. Then I realized:

    1) that I had nothing better to do
    2) it would only add on an hour or two and
    3) the days are super long right now

    so at 7:50 am, after the river crossing and getting my boots on again, I walked downstream alongside the river, admiring how previous torrents had scoured the shore and also deposited tree trunks and big branches.

    I had used my still-new Garmin 60CSx GPS for encouragement on the discouraging bike ride and I realized I had never really tried it out in a real-life hiking situation so decided to keep it on. This turned out to be a good move for determining a good line of travel to an efficient end-run around the massive cliffs. With the 1:24K mapping installed and the large, detailed screen I was very favourably impressed with the potency of this tool. I intersected the climbers’ path and followed it for a while but it was not going my way so I left it and found myself curling around under some cliffs getting caught up continuously in saplings and shrubbery. Nevertheless, I was gaining elevation rapidly in the cool and dry morning air and before I knew it was just about even with the ridge on the south side of Wilmington Notch. I also had views of Algonquin, which I took pictures of yet from another new angle.

    At 2200 feet and hanging as close to the edge as possible the going was quite scrappy and slow with copious tree litter underfoot. Trees and tree branches were downsloping, slippery and hidden under ground cover. I fell down cursing often. But then I began to get killer (stunning, mind-boggling, awesome – take your pick) views of the gorgeous rock walls of Moss Cliff. I spent a lot of time getting into position (gingerly and safely) to take pictures and then after climbing another 10 minutes found another amazing spot. I was at the edge of several hundred feet of vertical air to get these pics and later on, from the top of the big rock wall I got pics of where I had been. Was I ever glad to have added this feature on to my hike!

    Then I left the cliffs and headed for the summit. The forest immediately densified in a most extreme manner and because the fir trees were saturated with cold water it was exactly as if someone was hovering above me with a sprinkler and showering me. I was getting very cold so I stopped and put my rain gear on before struggling through the discouragingly thick mess of blowdown and new growth. Then it suddenly changed and I made decent time to the summit, which was surrounded by small cliffs. Getting up was not a big deal but descending to Sunrise Notch was quite an interesting adventure. I exploited the GPS’s impressive power to the utmost, never bothering to check map and compass.

    From Sunrise Notch I had planned a long northwest traverse to Whiteface Brook between 2500 and 2600 feet elevation on what looked like a flattish bench on the map. This turned out to offer very easy bushwhacking conditions and I averaged a good mile per hour, saving energy as I cruised along in a relaxed mode. I had an intense segment behind me and more was sure to come so this interlude was welcome. When the Rankins and I descended the Placid Slide we spent a long time whacking directly in the creek bed, which was nearly bone dry, prior to picking up the marked trail. When I got to it I had already been hearing it for quite some time so creek-whacking was not going to work I figured. But, being obtuse and somewhat obstinate I decided I needed to check it out anyway rather than whack uphill through open woods on firm soil 100 yards away from it.

    I actually tried boulder hopping and when a boulder rolled and I stepped into deep water I said screw this and side-sloped alongside the brook for 15 minutes getting exhausted and falling down too often before biting the bullet and climbing up and out of the very steep-walled drainage. I walked a long way in those easy woods checking the GPS and wondering at what elevation the slabs would start. Then, I detected a subtle change in the tone of the water and I also spied a pipe laying on the ground that looked like it went all the way to the summit. These signals encouraged me to go back to the brook and sure enough, it was open and slabby. Here I stopped for the first time all day. I gorged on food, re-filled my water, took off and wrung out my shirt and socks and went barefoot into my slide climbing shoes. My saturated boots weighed a ton in my pack.

    Right after I continued, the vegetation closed in tightly and it became very steep (I thought I remembered that from 5 years ago or more) and it seemed to take forever to get anywhere. I left the brook to my right and found a very steep slimy slab that I climbed and thereby gained access to excellent dry rock that climbed, at an angle away from the brook. It was only after a good 200 feet of ascent that I became aware of this and close to a dead end I began a hellish and seemingly lengthy traverse to get back to the true slide.

    The views kept opening up and were even better than I remembered. When I was still a long ways off from the summit I could see people on the stairs. When I was only 100 feet away some even waved hello to me. I was conscious that people were watching me and when I was close to the railings I cut away from the narrowing and now rubbly slide track and had a very thick bushwhack to get directly under the summit. After scrambling up through some nice rock I came out directly beside the viewing platform and quickly blended in with the crowd. I had done the entire whack with no trail travel at all, which was sort of cool. I went inside, where it was surprisingly warm and sat down on a leather sofa and wolfed down more food, change footwear and studied my options.

    My original plan had been to follow the hiking trail eastwards for 10 minutes and whack down to the top of the newly and greatly expanded Ski Hill Slide #3 but I decided that now, after what I had done, I wasn’t in the right kind of shape to descend something that steep, especially all alone. On my map it looked like I could follow the Placid hiking trail for a while and bushwhack to the top of the chair lift. From there I would just walk out down the ski slopes. But, it turned out that there was a trail, maintained by the Olympic Regional Development Authority or ORDA that took me right to the chairlift. There was a sign pointing to the slides and I noted a cut trail so I decided that this would be an excellent compromise to my original plan. I swapped footwear once again and was able to friction climb downhill on mostly dry fingers or swaths of slab. The sun was nice and warm on my shoulders as I worked my quads and planted my feet carefully with each step. Above the junction of (the now conjoined) slides 1&2 with the newly expanded slide 3 I cut through the intervening vegetation and found myself standing on a brand new slide. I realized then that I was on a slide that Mudrat or Walkwithblackflies had yet to climb! It was quite a sight and I took many pictures, which will do a better job than my writing can do at describing the experience. After all that was done I still had a long downhill walk to the car. I chose gentle novice runs and maintenance vehicle roads in order to spare my knees. From the summit to my car entailed 3600 feet of descent, added on to the 800 feet of descent from Moss Cliff to Sunrise Notch. The entire hike (after the river crossing) had taken only 9½ hours although it seemed a lot longer, presumably because it was so varied.

    PICTURES

  • #2
    Great trip and pics Neil! As I drove through Wilmington Notch today I tried to guess where you crossed the river. I was wrong.

    There is lots of incipient herd path up on the benches above the brook leading to LP slide. I stayed away from the brook until the slide started. I too, however, discovered the false slide to the right with its steep rock face before going to the left.

    Now you've made me want to check out Moss Cliff too. Think I'll wait til late August when the river is low.

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    • #3
      I'm not so sure that an ascent via a commonly climbed slide can be considered a bushwhack.
      Scooting here and there
      Through the woods and up the peaks
      Random Scoots awaits (DP)


      Eat, sleep, hike, repeat.

      It doesn't have to be viewtiful to be beautiful. (NL)

      "Pushing the limits of easy."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by randomscooter View Post
        I'm not so sure that an ascent via a commonly climbed slide can be considered a bushwhack.
        Ouch, that is just harsh
        But I see your point, way too much open highway

        Really, great trip plan and execution Neil. nice pics too.
        Are you planning on starting a new tri-athlete sport. It seems you have the basics, Bike, Swim and foot travel
        "Climbing is about freedom. There's no prize money; there are no gold medals. The mountains are all about going there to do what you want to do. That's why I'll never tell anyone else how to climb. All I can say is, This is how I prefer to do it."
        Ed Viesturs

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ADKJack View Post
          Really, great trip plan and execution Neil.
          The planning is the best part. The execution can be a royal PITA The Adirondacks are an endless source of absorbing route ideas.

          Originally posted by randomscooter View Post
          I'm not so sure that an ascent via a commonly climbed slide can be considered a bushwhack.
          I fixed it. Now I call them "off-trail" hikes.

          Gregory, for a few hundred yards I walked along what seemed to be part animal trail complete with deer tracks and part human herd path but for the most part I didn't notice all that much in the way of paths.

          RS: does the above disqualify the hike?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Neil View Post
            Gregory, for a few hundred yards I walked along what seemed to be part animal trail complete with deer tracks and part human herd path but for the most part I didn't notice all that much in the way of paths.

            RS: does the above disqualify the hike?
            By incipient herd path I mean less than fully formed, not paths per se, but a series of channels perpetually cleared of twigs, and conditions where there is always at least one fairly clear way forward. Easy travel in other words. Another reason to stay to the right and above the brook is views like this, taken just before the slide starts but 150 feet uphill to the right:

            https://picasaweb.google.com/curugro...05613458737154

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Neil View Post
              I fixed it. Now I call them "off-trail" hikes.

              Gregory, for a few hundred yards I walked along what seemed to be part animal trail complete with deer tracks and part human herd path but for the most part I didn't notice all that much in the way of paths.

              RS: does the above disqualify the hike?
              At this point I'm only an incipient PITA, so I have yet to take a position.
              Scooting here and there
              Through the woods and up the peaks
              Random Scoots awaits (DP)


              Eat, sleep, hike, repeat.

              It doesn't have to be viewtiful to be beautiful. (NL)

              "Pushing the limits of easy."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Gregory Karl View Post
                By incipient herd path I mean less than fully formed, not paths per se, but a series of channels perpetually cleared of twigs, and conditions where there is always at least one fairly clear way forward.
                Ah yes, lots of those in between Sunrise Notch and Whiteface Brook too. Pity that they always drift off the wrong way or dissipate into nothingness. The best "true" herd paths I have ever enjoyed were between Owl's head and Laramore Mountain.

                That's an interesting feature in that picture. I KNOW I didn't see that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Neil View Post
                  The best "true" herd paths I have ever enjoyed were between Owl's head and Laramore Mountain.
                  Those paths must have some big clumsy animals on them from time to time?
                  Be quick - but don't hurry. -John Wooden

                  Middle age is having a choice between two temptations and choosing the one that'll get you home earlier. ~Dan Bennett

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cory D View Post
                    Those paths must have some big clumsy animals on them from time to time?
                    Bipeds?
                    As in Chickens? Spruce Grouse?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm still counting it!
                      Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

                      Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
                      Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
                      Past President Catskill 3500 Club
                      CEO Views And Brews!

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                      • #12
                        Nice creative route Neil! I'm glad you did moss cliffs.
                        Ooooh. Ski slide 3 looks nice. Can you go back up and run a hose down the muddy spots to clear it a bit more though. A considerate hiker of your stature would have to that for future climbers (or descenders)

                        Moss cliff looks beautiful from that angle. I thought maybe you'd try to pick your way up the ramp that's about 1/2 between the vertical pitches in your last picture. On that note, if you keep the that horizontal picture in its current vertical orientation, it should be even easier to climb.
                        May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

                        www.adirondackmountaineering.com

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