No announcement yet.

Giant North and a sideswipe of the Batwing Slide.

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Giant North and a sideswipe of the Batwing Slide.

    At 2:15 Glen and I left the trail at the Giant-RPR col and headed northbound. We were side-hilling towards the base of the Batwing Slide in not enough snow over ice. We did a lot of slippy-sliding and realized that we would be unable to travel easily downhill along the slide's base. We had crampons however for most of our traveling they would have been more of a hindrance than a help. Or so we felt. We did a lot of tree-hugging and came out at the lip of a steep gully we knew we had to cross if we wanted to get close-up views of the vast expanses of the slide.

    Crossing the gully was hair-raising but we managed it with minimal exposure and entered woods that were fairly navigable. I had loaded a line into the GPS that traced the base of the slide from one end to the other and which showed just how steep the terrain was going to get.

    To get there we started hiking at 7:45 and had hoofed it up the Owl's Head Lookout trail. From the junction at 2.5 miles we broke trail to the base of the Giant North Trail. That took us 3.5 hours of steady plodding, switching leads every 30 minutes. By then we had accumulated 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The going got decidedly tougher ascending the 1500 feet of Giant and we shortened the lead times to 15 minutes. I had predicted 75 minutes at 20 feet per minute of ascent. It took more like 90 due to copious blowdown across the trail and snow that became deeper and heavier as we ascended.

    We switched to crampons for the drop to the col. The ice cliff was a lot worse than either us had ever seen it so we followed tracks to a workaround that was considerably easier and safer. Now what had been a well-packed trail had only a single snowshoe track. A short ways below the ice cliff the broken trail ended and we were back to breaking trail.

    By the col we had been at it for 6 hours and the real adventure was just beginning.

    Below the slide we traversed gully after gully. Getting into, across and out of each one was an adventure all on its own. We eventually stood on a 40 foot cliff over the biggest gully/streambed at the base of the entire sweep of the slides. This was the biggest “pay moment” and we marveled at the visual feast for a while before descending through very open birch glades with views in all directions. We stopped often to turn around and admire the slide as it very slowly receded behind us.

    There ensued a very mellow open-woods walk in late afternoon sun (on the peaks, not on us) out through multiple and braided drainages. We easily crossed Roaring Brook and picked up our inbound trail. We plodded our weary but very satisfied way back to the trailhead for an 11 hour plus day. In the open field just short of the height of land below Owl's Head Look-out I sat on some grass and changed out of my sweat-soaked socks. The RPR ridge was etched out perfectly against the night sky and what we took for Venus appeared very bright over the ridge.

  • #2
    Gully Whacking = nerve wracking
    whenever we finished negotiating a gully and had glimpses of the slide through decent woods we would come to an even steeper and deeper gully.
    we ended up on a promontory above the last drainage on far corner. a lot of hard work for a great view but not what we had planed.

    overall we had good conditions on the little used trail past Owl's Head on up the North trail of Giant.
    The North trail up Giant had a lot of fresh blow down, most of which was easily gone around. There was one big fir tree right in the groove of the trail with ice cliffs to the sides.
    It took some major energy to go up and around. The pay off was on the fresh canvass of unbroken snow we saw an unusual scene painted in the snow.
    we saw what looked like a hole, then a line of foot prints, then nothing. on closer observation it was a depression in the snow where an animal sat and rested then went for a stroll and then Neil pointed out two faint feather brush strokes where a bird had taken flight. So a small tired bird rested, walked a bit and took flight. Very cool to see and nothing like the trampled snow highway up the other side of Giant. The trail down to Giant / RPR col started as the normal beaten down snow with some ice underneath. We were ready as we had switched to crampons / K10's at intersection.
    We were not ready for the " ice bulge " it was the worst ever, I've never not been able to get down / up with full crampons. Would have needed rope or webbing. We worked our way around in steep woods and on down to the col to start our gully whacking.
    Great adventure


    • bikerhiker
      bikerhiker commented
      Editing a comment
      on closer observation it was a depression in the snow where an animal sat and rested then went for a stroll and then Neil pointed out two faint feather brush strokes where a bird had taken flight.
      I saw a similar thing this last week in the catskills. I was in area where there was unbroken snow for some miles and time except for deer, coyotes and a bobcat (i did get pics of those tracks), and then I came upon where (I believe what was) a grouse had landed and then walked away from my intended route. As you worded your track-encounter beautifully, upon landing its wings had made symmetrical brush-strokes in the snow. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of this.