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After a bit of time extricating ourselves from our gear and taking some well-earned summit photos, we were about ready to depart. The extreme lateness (now past 6pm) meant we were going to be back at the car well past sunset, and arrive back home (a 3-hour drive) well past midnight. I took the opportunity of the summit's good line-of-sight to Lake Placid to make a quick phone call back home to Jenn: Everything was good, climbing over, be home late.
courtesy RHanel
At the top
AL Phone Home
The trio survives
courtesy RHanel
courtesy RHanel
Stephanie and Roland atop Colden
Backlit snow-sculpture
Roland atop Mt Colden
Now on actual trail, we re-donned our snowshoes and headed off. We chose the trail leading north-east to Lake Arnold Pass, the low point between Mt Colden and neighbouring Mt Marcy. From there, we'd take a main trail leading back north to Marcy Dam and, by extension, the main parking area at the High Peaks Visitor center.

The first part of our hike back was extremely scenic. There are several open bumps and sub-summits on the way down from Colden's summit, and the clear early-evening light lit the landscape beautifully. Straight ahead of us I could see the white North face of Gothics - one of the peaks Jenn, Chris and I had summitted just five days before. How different had the snow conditions been then, I recalled, with soft snow and slushy conditions. Clearly the snowpack had undergone a fundamental transformation since.
Starting Descent
Starting Descent
Late afternoon view
Many beautiful scenes were provided as the sunlight slipped away and dusk settled. There was a surprisingly deep snowpack along the trail leading down to Lake Arnold Pass; so much, in fact, that we still had occasional views over the treetops until we were almost down at the pass itself - something you definitely don't get when hiking directly on the ground along here.
courtesy RHanel
Down off of the bump
Silhou-lavigne
Sunset over the Macintyres
Once down at Lake Arnold, we switched into trudge mode. The trail was now a wide, gently descending track - easy to follow, even in the gathering darkness. It was noticeably warmer down here, and the snow had definitely achieved a softness that we never experienced during our climbing.

Partway to Avalanche junction, we switched on our headlamps.
Into the trees for good
There isn't too much to say about the last two hours of our journey: dark, moist, and rather boring. Oh, and sore. Something to do, no doubt, with all of that prolonged tension of leg and arm muscles during the climb.
Super-late return
Back down the trail from Avalanche Junction to Marcy Dam. Back across the flats of Marcy Dam Pond, where a still-clear sky sported many stars, a first-quarter moon, and a glowing, ruddy Mars. Back across the undulating trail from the Dam to the parking lot, arriving pretty much on the hour at 10:00pm.

So... wow. A fifteen hour and twenty minute day. Long, way long. Although we achieved everything safely and successfully, clearly we needed to work on our efficiency when it comes to longer climbs. Cramponing technique on hard slopes probably comes in a close second. Realizing how a change in conditions (in this case, a hard snowpack) can greatly affect the difficulty level (an only slightly-softer snowpack would have made for an easy and much more enjoyable climb). Some calf and forearm exercises probably wouldn't hurt, either. All in all, a definite humbler, this day was.

Hats off to Roland and Stephanie for being reliable and persistent throughout many hours' worth of toiling. Apologies again for the ice ax fumble.

P.S. if you'd like to see how the new route up the Trap Dike goes (well, more specifically, up the new 2011 slide above the Dike), click on the trackmap below. On it, you'll see the old and the new ascent routes marked. Interesting to compare the two.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Trap Dike Winter Climb - click map to view
Trap Dike (winter conditions, new slide) - Hike Data
Start Time: 6:43a.m.
End Time: 10:03p.m.
Duration: 15h20m
Distance: 18.03 km (11.21 mi)
Average Speed: 1.2 km/hr (0.7 mph)
Start Elevation: 2269ft (692m) *
Max Elevation: 4762ft (1451m) *
Min Elevation: 2104ft (641m) *
End Elevation: 2205ft (672m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 2875ft (876m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 2929ft (893m) *
 
 
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
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