A return to the Trap Dike - this time in summer - to explore the aftereffects of the 2011 landslide.
Curious to see the state of affairs after 2011's huge Irene-caused landslide on Mt Colden's northwest face (and in the Trap Dike), we organized an outing to repeat a classic route I've done many times now - an ascent of Mt Colden from Avalanche, up the Trap Dike, and up the new 2011 slide scar.
After reports of muddy trails and a forecast of cloudiness, we were pleasantly surprised to find not much of either, nor of bugs. Our hike from the ADK Loj area to Avalanche pass was very rapid.
After working along the rough trail alongside Avalanche Lake to a point opposite the Trap Dike, we stopped for a good look - what a huge difference from pre-2011: virtually all of the vegetation scoured out of the dike, and lots of fresh bedrock visible. The dike looked a lot more imposing now.
Bushwhacking from the lower end of Avalanche Lake to the base of the dike, we began our ascent. The newfound openness in the dike meant there were many more scrambling options. The straightforward lines of ascent remained, howeve, and an easy 3rd-class scramble brought us over the first step and to the base of the second. Here we encountered another party who were a bit unsure of their climbing abilities. We gave them some mild assistance we they climbed up the crux second step; we followed shortly thereafter.
The upper dike was equally blasted bare by the landslide; wide open stretches of rock and slab led up - now less steeply - to the base of the new slide. It was wide, white and clean: our highway to the top.
A bit of routefinding was required to surmount the first steep pitch on the open slide. Thereafter the climbing was steady but relatively trouble-free until the very end, where the grade steepens again. There are a few ledges and cracks to assist the final bit to the top. A quick break and a rapid hike down to Lake Arnold and beyond brought us back to the trailhead around 5:30 pm.
Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: June 2015 Trap Dike and New Slide Climb on Mt Colden
Hard snow and tiring conditions in the classic mountaineering outing of the Adirondacks - the Trap Dike on Mount Colden.
After a very soft-snow experience just days before on Gothics, I was concerned that there might possibly be avalanche conditions in the Dike. We made sure we got an early start (before 7am), and with brisk walking, we were at the base of the Dike not long after 9 a.m. The whole of this side of Colden was in the shade and the temperatures were still below freezing, so we knew the snow was stable.
In fact, it turned out to be too stable. Stable as in rock-hard stable, and our climb was actually a tiring calf-burner of an ascent, with careful crampon-placement required on almost every step. The Dike was well-filled in with snow, with the ice steps noticeably shortened as a result.
We were quite careful, both in terms of movement and staying roped and protected. That, in combination with our relative rustiness with respect to winter mountaineering, meant we were very, very slow. It took us nearly eight full hours to climb from Avalanche Lake to the summit. Ideally, we should have been able to complete that climb in perhaps a third of that time.
Still, it was a useful experience, and the weather - with crystal clear air and brilliant sunshine - couldn't be beat. We arrived back at the car at 10pm, marking the end of a very arduous 15+ hour day.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: April 2014 Trap Dike climb
A superb spring-like winter day; Perfect for doing one of the very scenic hikes of the Adirondacks - the 'Mt Colden Loop'. Near-perfect snow conditions and friendly company meant we had a super-smooth, relatively quick day. I'd never been up Mt Colden in the winter WITH clear views, so I was very much looking forward to the great vantage point(s) that Mount Colden provides. I was not disappointed! The upper part of the 'backside' trail up the southwest angle on Mount Colden provided a multitude of fantastic views, primary among them being the gleaming-white domes of nearby Algonquin, Iroquois, and Marcy.
Also of note was the excellent baklava on the summit. Yum.
Please refer to the link below for the full trip report with lots of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: March 2010 Mt Colden Loop
This trip was the fortuitous intersection of a number of goals: one, I'd recently been thinking that it would be interesting to try the Trap Dike route in the winter, especially since I'd been up and down it many times in summer. two, Roland over the years had been stating his interest in doing a winter mountaineering route in the Adirondacks like this one. And three, Jenn needed Mt Colden as part of her winter 46er quest.
As we were getting ready to leave, we noticed a couple of other teams with climbing gear leaving the lot. Likely we'd have some company in the dike, I thought.
We left from the parking lot shortly after 9am. Later than I usually like to leave, but Roland had scheduling pressures that precluded a proper early departure. We hiked on the firmly packed trail to Marcy Dam, arriving to a nice - if somewhat misty and hazy - view of our objective - Mount Colden.
With the relatively warmer winter we'd been having up 'till recently, I was slightly worried that Avalanche Lake might not be in condition to cross. However, the hiker-highway that led across it left no doubt as to it's integrity, and we walked down the length of the lake, angling for the avalanche-battered cone of trees that marks the start of the Trap Dike.
We arrived at the base of the dike to discover a couple of parties ahead of us (as expected). After about half an hour or so of waiting around for the bottleneck to clear up, it was our turn to go, and we started up the deep notch of the Trap Dike. Nothing too difficult, and we climbing it using a running belay. We caught up to the group ahead of us at the next, slightly harder ice climbing section. Here we waited for almost an hour.
We made our own way up the second ice climb. This was the hardest part of the climb, and we did it with a more formal belay. Still, in the grand scheme of things, it was fairly easy stuff. Above this it was pretty much a soft snow climb up to the exit point of the route out of the dike.
We began the long climb up the slab towards the summit. The condition of the surface was mixed. In places it was a tricky thin layer of ice over rock - these sections were a little unnerving; in others, it was foot-deep snow; and yet in others, the snow had a hard styrofoam-like consistency, which was particularly good for cramponing. We did the running-belay thing again, putting in some anchors here and there. Higher up, we got a little more comfortable with the conditions, and we mostly just cramponed straight up towards the summit. It was getting late, and we wanted to summit before it got dark.
We arrived at the crest just about at sundown, quickly packed up our stuff, took a few summit pictures, and then were off, hiking the long but well-graded and nicely in-shape trail back to Marcy Dam, and ultimately the Loj parking area. One more for Jenn's winter 46, and my first time up the Dike in the winter!
See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: January 2008 - Winter Ascent of the Trap Dike on Mt Colden
I wanted something different, something a little more alpine, a little more like mountaineering. I settled on a couple of slide climbs, put back-to-back, on Mount Colden. We'd climb up the south-east slide, and then downclimb the Trap Dike.
Although there was oodles of clear sky and sun on the way down, there seemed to be a dark cluster of low clouds enveloping the high peaks. Gloomy was the name of the game as we started out from Adirondak Loj. There was a relatively low chance of rain, which we didn't want while scrambling on steep slabs of rock.
The lower part of the slide consists of a lot of gravel and boulders. The terrain is fairly open at this point, and it is a simple matter to chart a reasonable course up the slide. If you look up, way, way up, you'll see the very top of the slide, which looks impossibly steep from this point. It isn't impossible, of course, but it is steep! It requires confidence in your boots' ability to grip the coarse and grippy anorthosite. Soon after climbing the steep top part of the slide, we entered the thick scrub of the summit ridge and we shortly at the big boulder near the summit.
It is a little damp today, and so we take care to stay off anything that doesn't look clean and dry. There are a few wet and tricky ledges that have to be downclimbed, and in one spot we use a bit of cordalette as a hand-line. Eventually we work our way over to the upper access point into the dike. Half of our descent is now over.
Next we need to descend the narrow, blocky and steep confines of the dike. The dampness of the past few days means there's a lot of wet rock in the dike, too, and so care is needed when descending. When we reach the steepest part of the dike - a 30-foot 4th class step, we decide to opt for a quick rappel, rather than downclimb. Our decision to do this is aided by the fact that someone has recently left a rappel ring tied to a tree.
Once below the 4th class step, it is easy scrambling down to the base of the dike. The small delta of trees at the base of the dike has been recently wiped out - victim to last winter's avalanche in the trap dike. Well, the access to the base of the dike is now easier!
It is regular hiking from this point on, all the way back to the trailhead.
See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: July 2007 Colden Slides Climb
The Trap Dike Again! 2 times in one Summer! And Mount Colden again! 3 times in one year! Must be a good peak... For this hike I did not do any of the organizing - just tagged along with Graham's group of friends, who were mostly climbers. In fact, Simon, the organizer, had only ever climbed one mountain in the Adirondacks, and that was Colden via this route! Graham and I camped overnight at a leanto at the ADK Loj campground, waiting and waiting for everyone to show up. Eventually everyone did, but at a pretty late hour. This meant of course a late start in the morning (9:30am). Made good progress, reaching Avalanche Pass by 11:30 am. Had a good lunch break along Avalanche lake and started the climb up the dike at about 1pm. The climbing was fun, as always, but the cloud deck was at about 3500 feet so soon we were 'in the white'. A couple of our group were a bit nervous about the steepness of the slide climbing, but we all managed ok and we hit the summit at about 2pm. A looong lunch break ensued.... so long, in fact, that I ended up hiking out by myself, and ended up setting a speed record for this section of hiking: two hours flat from the summit of Colden all the way back to the ADK Loj parking area trailhead.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: September 2003 Trap Dike Climb (Mount Colden)
Another Trap Dike excursion. This time the newcomers to the Dike were Constantine, Luc, Larry, and Ewart. Ewart especially wanted to do Colden by this route, having climb the mountain so many times by other routes. We started from our new trailhead of choice: South Meadows, and quickly hiked from there to Avalanche Pass. A bit of hiking and bushwacking around the lake brought us to the start of the Dike and the climb itself. The dike was very dry and there was almost no water flowing, allowing for climbing of the rock more to the left than usual. This being my 3rd time up the Dike, I had little problem finding the right exit point onto the slide (and now I've captured a waypoint with my GPS so all can find it easily now! - see the trip report reference below). The rest of the climb was the usual excellent stairmaster-style climb up to the summit. The day was hazy and warm, so visibility was good but not perfect. Lunch on the summit and down via Lake Colden and onto Marcy Dam, where Markus attempted to help out a photographer who dropped his rare lens cap into the waters of Marcy Dam. From there back down the trail to the South Meadows trailhead.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Trip Report: July 5 2003 Trap Dike Climb (Mount Colden)
This was my first winter climb of Mount Colden. We had a big crew this time: ten in all! This had originally been planned to be a sequel to the 2002 Porter-Cascade hike with my friends from the Wilderness First Aid course that I'd planned. However, not everyone could make it, although Bryan Mullen did. It was a cloudy day with flurries, and so prospects for views on the summit were iffy. The trail from ADK Loj to Marcy dam was a nice, well-packed snow highway. Encountered a few other parties, most of them on backcountry skiis. Marcy Dam was solidly frozen over, and I took an opportunity to get a picture of everyone crossing the frozen lake. The hike up to Avalanche pass was blissful: no rocks, boulders, or muck. Just nice smooth snowy trail. Avalanche lake was a spectacular wintry place - totally transformed into this wild, windblown plain with ice covered cliffs on either side. Since we were all well-bundled, the stiff wind and blowing snow did not bother us in the least. And what was even better was the ability to walk straight across the lake and avoid all of the nasty bouldery trail. We stopped for a food break between Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden, then proceed out onto Lake Colden for a bit before heading to the southeastern shore where the start of the trail from Lake Colden to the summit of Colden was located. From there it was a steep, huffy climb, although the snow conditions were very good for snowshoes with good crampons. Although it was cloudy and lightly snowing, we were able to see a fair distance to the lower flanks of nearby peaks. Reaching the boulders and cliffs of the summit area, we emerged out into a fairly strong wind and blowing snow, making our goggles and balaclavas very useful. I was amazed that my digital camera was functioning so well in these harsh conditions - it was covered in frost and the temperature was at least -15 C, yet everything was still functioning perfectly. There was a tricky bit along the cliff bands near the summit where thin ice over rock was difficult to scale... but eventually everyone managed to find a way up. We took a few celebratory pictures near the summit boulder and on the actual summit itself, and then went a little farther down into the col between the summit and the northern sub-summit for our lunch snack. Then from there it was down on the trail to Lake Colden and on to Marcy Dam (grateful all the way for the fantastic trail conditions in the winter!). Night had now fallen, and so headlamps guided us back to ADK Loj to complete the hike. Well worth doing in winter!
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: January 25 2003 hike (Mount Colden)
An intro the Trap Dike fo PG, Bog, Annette and Markus. We also backpacked this one, camping not far from the Avalanche Jct Lean-tos. Got started good and early, and were on the Dike before too long. I'd brought rope and a bit of gear to help anyone not feeling comfortable, and on a couple of pitches we in fact did do some belaying. Again had a bit of a hard time locating the exit (went too high last time, this time went too low), but after some trial and error, located a good route over to the main slide that avoided bushwacking. Everybody loved it, although the steep slide climb is the ultimate stairmaster workout! We returned via Lake Arnold, packed up our campsite and returned via Marcy Dam.
This was a two-day backpack, starting from Upper Works, to climb Mount Colden via the Trap Dike, a mountaineering route up the west side of Colden. We hiked in and set up camp at the Lake Colden backcountry camping area. Had too much food for the bear canister, so hung up the rest of our food a ways from the tents. During the night, heard noises and sounds about bears from neigbouring campers... but didn't get out of the tents. In the morning, my bear-canister food was fine, but the hung up food... gone! A bit of investigation revealed the remnants not far away in a bush, cleanly picked over. A lesson learned! We still had enough provisions to finish our little mission, so we started off for Avalanche Lake and it was not long before we reached the southwest end of the lake. From there it is a bit of bushwacking along the southeast shore of the lake to the base of the dike, which looms up impressively. The climbing was fun, with several pitches of class 3 or 4 interspersed with easier scrambling. I was unsure of the precise exit point from the dike onto the face and was a bit too conservative, causing us to have to do a little sideways bushwacking over to the main slide. Complicating matters was the fact that the night before had been below zero and there were several icy sections on the slabby portions that we had to traverse. Would have been very bad to slip on any of these sections, so we hauled out our rope and did a little safety belaying where needed. It was easy to stay in the dry on the main part of the slide and we burned up the steep slope. We could see the big perched boulder on Colden's summit from far away and that acted as a good marker for progress. An excellent route! We returned down Colden to the southwest, packed up our campsite, and returned to Upper Works.
The second hike ever after the infamous starter 'Eclipse Hike'. We managed to round up quite a bunch for this one, 11 people in total, which is one of the highest number of folks I've ever brought on a hike. We camped the night before at the ADK Loj campground - I recall Gord and Nathalie had what seemed to be a 10 person tent just for the two of them, whereas Andree and I had a little-bitty 2 person job. Also recall Ewart choosing to sleep out in the open on a picnic table (this was an early exposure to Ewart's bush-man behaviour). We started out fairly early (I think around 7am, but do not quote me on that). This was my first time ever visiting Marcy Dam, and was of course impressed with the nice view from there. Then it was on and through beautiful Avalanche Pass (another first for me), where I simply loved the craggy, dark, shady area in the notch of the pass where the trail follows the base of the cliffs of Avalanche Mountain. Then on to the grandeur of Avalanche Lake and the rough boulders and ladders of the trail through there. At that time I thought that section was really fun, but now having been through there a bunch of times I find that section of trail a little rough. Loved the hitch-up Matildas, of course. I remember stopping at the junction with the trail up to Mount Colden from Lake Colden and reading the trail description from 'the bible' to everyone (the green adirondack high peaks guidebook). The trail up was described as 'unrelentingly steep' (or something like that), which elicited a few groans from some of us (most people on the hike were newbie hikers, especially so for Kai Mao's young nephews, who had brought along only donuts as food, I recall). The trail up Colden was indeed very steep, with lots of sections of trail worn down to the slab rock of the mountain, and very steep. Andree loved the physical challenge of this section of trail and just powered up it, leaving everyone behind. She was in her element. Near the summit are some really sections with little cliffs and huge boulders that the trail winds around. Past these, we arrived at the summit and took in the excellent views (it was a very hot summer day). We stopped by the big boulder that is perched near the edge of the summit ridge and had our lunch break. Ewart was not big on bug juice and had a lot of bloody bites on his legs. The view down to Avalanche Lake, complete with the hitch-up Matildas visible, was fantastic. We took the Lake Arnold way down, and by this time our newbie hiking crowd was feeling pretty ragged. We'd not brought enough water, and in fact Nathalie so much so that we though she might be starting to suffer from some heat illness. At one point, Paul O. decided to take matters into his own hands and dunked here into a little side brook somewhere between the Avalanche Lean-tos and Marcy Dam! Kai's nephews were done for, totally wrung out. Still, we all made it back in one piece and yet another bit of hiking experience was gained (I was on the steep part of the learning curve at this point).
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: July 1994 Mt Colden Hike