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Cliff Slide, Redfield Slabs.

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  • Cliff Slide, Redfield Slabs.

    Walking a fine line between hiking and technical climbing with no gear. No place for bold and daring.
    Click image for larger version  Name:	48771906998_aaeb51fe97_z.jpg Views:	9 Size:	10.1 KB ID:	501400



    For this off-trail hiking project Glen and I set our sights on a Cliff-Redfield two-fer. After some back and forth map work via e-mail we agreed upon a course. We would whack Cliff directly from the Hanging Spears Falls trail from Flowed Lands then descend the Cliff Slide. Next, we would ascend the massive slabs on Redfield's south-west sub-summit, cross over and drop down to the bottom of the Redfield Slide for the ascent of Redfield.

    This itinerary called for a 6am start and at 8:30 we began the whack of Cliff from Flowed Lands. We began in the land of Floyd and progressed very slowly, clambering over countless pieces of blowdown until we arrived at a beautiful beaver pond (see pics). We detoured well to the south and forgot to correct, so by following the same bearing we were now (unbeknownst to us) aimed for one of Cliffs southern bumps.

    Luckily we came screeching to a spot above huge and dizzying vertical drop that was not on our map.

    We sat down and examined the map and discussed things. Once we figured out where we were we confirmed our solution with the GPS and began a slow and extremely gnarly traverse up on a narrow ridge to get back to our desired line of ascent along a “ramp” that lies just south of the winter route up Cliff from Livingston Pond. The cliffs petered out and we dropped into a gorgeous mossy fen (soggy ground).

    We traversed the fen and, thoroughly enjoying our outing, we were now at 3100 feet. It was a straight shot to the summit through moderately easy woods. We hit the top after 5h30 of hiking from Upper Works.

    The next item on the agenda was the Cliff Slide which completely changed the nature of our hike. It was as if a brand-new panel had been pulled across the previous one. (pics) We almost went down the wrong way and corrected by side-hilling across 45 degree slopes of leather leaf and cedar thickets until we dropped into the upper slide. It was very steep with plenty of loose rocks. We stuck very close together and following, I dislodged a couple of 20 lb rocks that went careening down the slide after gently caressing Glen's feet.

    We were surrounded by massive cliff walls and enjoyed views of Marcy and, in our faces Redfield with the massive slabs aforementioned. The slabs looked very steep. Maybe too steep for us but we would see when we got to them. Many pictures later of Cliff's cliffs we were at the bottom of the slide. Sylvie, who was in the Adams fire tower, and I spoke over the radio. The signal somehow rounded the corner of Cliff's south end. I told her we would be out at 6 and to turn the radio on at that time to leave it on. It was now noon.

    The slabs were only about 600 yards away but it took a lot of time and energy to get from Upper Twin Brook up to the lower north corner through the blowdown-rich woods. Massive cliffs suddenly appeared, towering vertically above us and they marched off towards the south. We followed along the cliff base until vertical became steep slab. We had arrived at that fine demarcation between hiking and technical climbing. The slabs above us were friction-climbable but we couldn't see beyond a 10-foot overhanging wall. The last thing we wanted was to get up there only to be stuck. Down-climbing would be impossible without a rope. As a result we kept to the slab's base and side-hilled across.

    The slabs extend for a quarter mile horizontally and in the pictures this traverse looks easy but was in fact quite difficult, especially when there was a layer of friable black lichen. We painstakingly traversed, sometimes upwards and at other times downwards, always eying hungrily the upper reaches of the slabs, which grew steeper as you ascended them. The 400 yard traverse ate up an amazing amount of time and energy but this was what we had come for so we were content to let the hike roll. Everywhere the gaze fell it was beautiful, from the distant Colden slides to the extensive cliffs across the valley floor to on mighty Cliff. It was important to respect the limits of our abilities and rein in our desire to climb higher at the risk of getting into trouble or falling. We were in a remote location and I had just read an account of two Spot devices on the same expedition failing to transmit SOS calls in the Canadian Rockies.

    After one exhausting ascent that ended in a cliff wall and overly steep slab we retreated down-slope a long ways through thick cedars and along the slab's edge. We rounded the bottom of this finger of rock and began to climb right back up again. The slope was close to 45 degrees and we alternated between sections of clean slab and crazy-thick vegetation. It was about here that I noticed we were slowing down and I was feeling tired. I was having to pause more often to let the burn in my quads diminish and the pounding in my chest subside. In the hot sun we were sucking greedily on our water hoses.

    At 3 pm at 3500' and nearly a mile from the summit I sat down and said to Glen it was time to examine our bailout options. We were getting whipped and I had to be in class in Montreal at 7:30 the next morning. Continuing to the summit would get us out at 11:00 and put me in bed at around 2am. Sylvie would be worried waiting for us at the trailhead or until we could get line of sight radio contact.

    We had two choices after descending to Upper Twin Brook:

    1-Ascend Upper Twin through the Cliff-Red col then descend to the official trail down the Opalescent to Lake Colden and out.

    2-Descend the same brook to the junction of the Allen and Hanging Spears trails.

    Glen favored the latter and was sure we would pick up the old trail. We debated back and forth and opted for #2. I could see the old trail and the various roads around the Allen trail on my GPS. The Hanging Spears Trail was close to 2 miles away. The steep initial descent went slowly and then the more gently sloped woods were thick but we progressed steadily towards the brook. And suddenly, we saw we were on the old trail and saw a marker! We were able to follow the old trail much more easily than I would have ever imagined. The elevation loss went much more quickly than had we been bushwhacking. We eventually picked up the Allen trail and hoofed it out to the Allen trailhead four hours after our turn-around point. I got to bed at 11 pm.

    PICTURES




    Attached Files
    Last edited by Neil; 09-21-2019, 08:48 PM.

  • #2
    Had no idea any of those faces exist. Can you trace your route on a map or satellite view and post? I tried following but got lost once you dropped off Cliff.

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  • #3
    Originally posted by 2505 View Post
    Had no idea any of those faces exist. Can you trace your route on a map or satellite view and post? I tried following but got lost once you dropped off Cliff.
    Thanks. Looks like an epic trip. So many incredible places off the beaten path

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    • #4
      Three of us climbed the Cliff slide on a winter backpacking trip in the early '90s. I was in front as we were nearing the top. With a loud 'CRACK', a large fracture opened across the slide right in front of us. We carefully moved to the side and down climbed, moving slow and easy like a bomb disposal team. Not much side space. Really freaked us out.
      "The mountains are like a museum where the exhibits change every month" ...Ralph Ryndak, Catskill Explorer

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      • #5
        Awesome, great photos. Steep? Oh yea

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        • #6
          Originally posted by Peakbagr View Post
          Three of us climbed the Cliff slide on a winter backpacking trip in the early '90s. I was in front as we were nearing the top. With a loud 'CRACK', a large fracture opened across the slide right in front of us. We carefully moved to the side and down climbed, moving slow and easy like a bomb disposal team. Not much side space. Really freaked us out.
          Who knows how close you all came to dying. 500 lbs of climbers puts a lot of tension on the hydrogen bonds that hold the snow in place on steep slopes.

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          • #7
            The fissure was a few feet deep, a little wider at the top, opening right across the slab, a foot in front of my snowshoes. Freaked us out.
            "The mountains are like a museum where the exhibits change every month" ...Ralph Ryndak, Catskill Explorer

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            • #8
              Beavers !!
              A keystone species for humans survival.
              We encountered a very wild looking beaver pond as we started up Cliff, right where I would expect, on a fat contour among some wrinkles ( small ridges ).
              We walked across their very well maintained, solid dam. There was another small pond to our right for the next generation of kits.
              Extending out from the pond were little channels and paths for the harvesting of trees. they use the inner bark for food and resulting sticks for dam and lodge.
              After we crossed the dam we started up a steep ridge for about 60 ft of elevation gain. Along the way we saw beaver paths and small cut trees.
              What was amazing was at the top of the ridge a long ways away from the safety of the pond were lots of cut trees. This is very unusual activity and the only time I've seen it.
              Another thing was that they cut the logs into 16 - 18 inch long sections to take down hill rather than their usual practice of pulling whole branches / small trees to the pond to be cut up and stored for food for the winter.
              Amazing mountain climbing beaver !!

              Comment


              • greatexpectations
                greatexpectations commented
                Editing a comment
                love beavers and beaver talk! always a treat to see them on trails near me.

            • #9
              Cliff's slide looks just like I remember it. So does the cliff on that aspect. I see an "easy" line up its center Want to carry a rope in for me. The big cliffs on the other side are actually more prime for climbing. That slide on Redfield looks sweet. It's technical, but it looks like there are options (like we discussed) when you go back for it. The band across it is interesting too. Good stuff as always!!
              May your ambition for the goal allow you to be a student of the journey.

              www.adirondackmountaineering.com

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              • mastergrasshopper
                mastergrasshopper commented
                Editing a comment
                I may be able to talk to the industrious mountain climbing beaver clan to see if they can carry your rope.
                The only problem I foresee is their penchant to cut it into bite size pieces.

              • mastergrasshopper
                mastergrasshopper commented
                Editing a comment
                running south from the slide on Cliff there are 2 very nice sets of cliffs, across from the Red slab slide. Very nice looking.

            • #10
              Trail archeology
              The exit was really the key to the next access to the Red slab slide.
              soon as we descended to the twin brook drainage we felt trail with our trained trail finding feet !
              Almost immediately we saw a golden disc, the golden trail home. This trail was abandoned 30 years ago but once we were a ways down and the terrain eased up we were able to stay with trail corridor all the way over to Hanging spear / Allen trail.
              A great way home and even better as a hand rail back into slab.

              Comment


              • Neil
                Neil commented
                Editing a comment
                The trail reminded me of finding an old logging road on Avalanche Mtn. It was obvious and easy to follow. Easier than bushwhacking. How many years ago would that have been abandoned? Same goes for many other bits and pieces of old roads we find here and there. But the old Marcy Trail was SUCH a treat after a lot of difficult bushwhacking.
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