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Up Bennie’s Lower and Upper, 1/16

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  • Up Bennie’s Lower and Upper, 1/16

    I really like Bennie’s Brook slide on Lower Wolf Jaw and have climbed it several times in non-winter seasons and a couple of times in near-winter. Since it was greatly widened and lengthened by Irene, it is really a great place to explore and enjoy. I convinced my friend Curt to join me on my first winter ascent of the slide and then on to Lower and Upper Wolf Jaws. Walking up the Johns Brook trail we were surprised to see so much rock exposed along with snowy areas. I thought the recent warm spell would not have done much damage to the snow cover, but it did. Microspikes were great for the lower part of the slide (up to the three-way junction). We just stayed in the snowy areas and away from the water, ice, and ice-covered rock. There was a snow bank along the stream of the slide which was frozen and covered with sand, so there must have been a pretty good blowout last weekend when it was warm. All this was refrozen now and it made a great surface to walk on. We could see traces of ski tracks in the snow, but to ski it would require a couple of feet of new snow.

    We planned to decide which branch to take when we got up to the junction. The old right branch, now the center branch, has mostly grown in with vegetation and trees and I thought it might be a good choice if the new large right branch did not look hiker-friendly. When we got to the junction, the old branch had more ice cover and less snow cover, so we started up the new right branch. There is a cliff at the start of the right branch, which is generally much steeper than the lower part of the slide. At this point we easily decided it was time for crampons. In a couple of places where the snow ran out on the slide, we briefly ducked into the woods to avoid the serious steep ice. We were at the headwall in a few more minutes—what an amazing sight! We turned into the woods and popped out on the trail and were snacking at the summit in about 10 minutes.

    The rest of the trip was pretty normal winter hiking. We kept the crampons on over to Upper Wolf Jaw, but didn’t really have to as we passed several hikers who were doing fine with Microspikes.

    This shouldn’t be necessary--but some words of caution. You certainly recall Calum’s fall and serious injuries on the Nippletop slide last month. Just because someone climbs a slide (or does any difficult hike) doesn’t mean that it is easy or anyone can do it. Slides are inherently dangerous places and you should not climb them unless you have the knowledge and experience to do so safely.

  • #2
    Love this slide too. We've done it in November and June. Glad you had a good trip.
    #8335W, Solo Winter 46
    ADK Grid 309/552
    Catskill 35 (SSW) #1235
    ADK Quest #119
    NE 111 113/115

    One list may be done, but the journey is far from over...
    Half Dome, 2009


    • #3
      Thanks Joe, I was wondering what was needed above (snowshoes, or spikes) after this long warm spell.
      If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled ~ Red Skelton


      • #4
        The melt really did create some serious changes in just a few days. Giant's east face still had plenty of ice to 'play' on, but the Eagle was nearly bare as were most of the faces on the eastern Great Range. Good disclaimer about slide climbing!
        May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.


        • #5
          this slide being the next one I'd like to climb... did the one next to the LWJ lean to last yr, not sure of its real name, goes to false summit just before UWJ..
          ADK 46-R #6750W
          CL-50 - #51
          CATSKILLS- 9/39
          NPT Complete 7-6-13

          Hiking photos