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. Roland was free this weekend, and so when the weather forecast shaped up to be good and we had had two weeks of stable weather, it was clearly time to go! Caroline was also free this weekend, and being an up-and-coming ice climber, was interested in tackling the route. So, she joined us.
For those of you who do not know, the Trap Dike is a geological formation: a long and straight intrusion of softer rock in the harder Adirondack anorthosite, it forms a deep rising notch in the northwest flank of Mount Colden. The Trap Dike route, as it is known, climbs the lower part of this dike and then exits out onto the face of one of Mount Colden's many open slides. The route then climbs this face to the summit. It is considered a classic Adirondack climbing route. It is nowhere particularly hard, but it is a long 2000-foot climb that can, in certain situations, be tricky.
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.
we continued along to Avalanche Junction, then up the short bit of steep to Avalanche Pass, and very soon after that we were standing at the north-east end of Avalanche Lake, admiring one the grandest views in the Adirondacks. Blue skies mixed with high, wispy clouds, and the temperature was moderate and the wind still. Conditions were good.