|Jan 26, 2008 (Sat)
|Elevation: 4714 feet; Order of Height: 11
|Participants: Andrew Lavigne, Jennifer Innes, Caroline Doucet, Roland Hanel
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