The weather so far for November of 2006 in the Northeast: Very wet and relatively mild in the early and middle part of the month (which melted just about every ounce of snow and ice in the mountains of the Northeast). Following this, a week of very dry weather, with mild days but cool nights. This presented us with another opportunity to try and climb the Great Slide of East Dix before winter snows set in (and, in possible recon preparation for a winter ascent in a few months). There was actually more snow and ice one month before (in late October) when we tried (but failed) this climb with Graham and Friends. click here
to see the report for that attempt.
So, with Ewart and Roland in tow, Jenn and I drove down to the start of the herdpath on Route 73, and we set out on a cool but completely clear morning on the herdpath towards East Dix (again, for additional route info, see last month's attempt). The water levels were much, much lower than last time, and we were hoping to follow the proper herdpath the entire way this time instead of bushwacking to avoid some stream crossings.
We were almost able to cross at the first crossing, but the previous nights' cold temps had plastered a little bit too much ice to certain crucial hopping rocks, and so we had to resort to the south-side bushwack once again. We hoped that the day's warm forecast would melt the ice coating for our return hike.
The bushwacking in this valley is easy, though, and it was a short open bushwack to where we could rejoin the herdpath. From here, it was a brisk but straightfoward hike up into the valley of the South Fork of the Boquet River. The herdpath makes many stream crossings in the upper part of this drainage, and here the much lower water levels made crossing a simple matter. We arrived at the base of the slide at about 11:30am (we started at 8:30am).
The great slide of East Dix is on a steep, north facing slope. There was a thin dusting of snow in the trees on the north slope; more importantly, though, is that ground runoff had created quite thick coats of ice on the lower portion of the slide (I was hoping for enough dry rock to avoid crampons entirely). We had brought our crampons, though, and the angle at this point was not too extreme, so Jenn, Roland and I decided to crampon straight up this ice-coated part of the slide. Ewart opted for the drier but far more bushwacky climb up along side the slide.
The cramponing worked quite well - the ice was thick enough and nicely plastic. The crampons bit in well. We only had to ascend the lower portion of the slide this way - higher up, we could see that the slide looked mostly dry and open. There was a good chance we'd be able to climb it in boots fairly easily.
As the slide climbed, it got steeper. However, the rock was sound and there are a lot of irregularities and ledges and such. Don't think of the upper part as a smooth, open slab. It is more of a craggy scramble. Very fun!