Monday, January 22, 2007

The Classics - Trap Dyke & Eagle Slide

The Classics

Trap Dyke (Colden) & Eagle Slide (Giant)

The two best climbs in the Adirondacks (ADK), without a doubt, are Trap Dyke on Colden and Eagle Slide on Giant. Both of these climbs are “only” rated class 3 with a few class 4 moves here and there, but at the end of the day, there are no two better climbs in the Northeast. They have everything – route finding, bushwhacking, exploration, beautiful locations, exposure, tall summits and fun descents. If experience means more to you than ratings and competition, then head towards Colden and Giant.

- Trap Dyke (Colden)

This is a great scramble in both summer and wintertime. Start by hiking in from the ADK Loj, pass Marcy Dam (home of the newbie campers) and head towards Avalanche Lake. The hike (or ski) into Avalanche Lake itself is a worthwhile trip. Hike around the lake, pass a large boulder at the top of the lake and then make your way towards the start of the climb.

The first part of the climb is a fun scramble up an often wet gully. Don’t forget to look down at the lake. As one reaches the small waterfall (i.e., top of the gully), climb the wall to the right. Most folks rope up for this small section.

Once above the waterfall, hike for a bit until you can exit to the slide on your right. Don’t exit too early because the summit slides are quite steep here. More than one person has gotten hurt here. There should be a faint herd path to follow that leads to the correct exit route.

Once on the summit slides (don’t forget to look down at the lake again), head straight up to the summit of Colden. The rock here is fantastic, so trust your feet and enjoy the ride up. The views and exposure from these slides are worth the efforts to get here.

After you top out, relax on the summit and enjoy the views of the High Peaks. Remember; please don’t step on the alpine plants.

There are two options for heading down. No. 1 – hike down the backside of Colden and head back towards the ADK Loj. No. 2 – scramble down the back slide for a complete traverse of Colden (highly recommended). The initial section is a bit steep, but after that, it’s easy street. At the bottom of this slide, hang a left and hike back towards the ADK Loj. If your tele-skills are solid, then strap on your boards and tear this bad boy up in the winter.

- Eagle Slide (Giant)

Giant Mountain has great slides on both its eastern and western sides; Eagle Slide is located on the west side of town. Start hiking in from the parking lot. Pretty soon, you’ll come across a large stream. Hang a left and follow the stream upwards. When in doubt, always follow the largest branch of the stream. After a nice bushwhack, you’ll reach the base of Eagle Slide. The beginning and end of the climb are relatively steep, so watch your step. Again, the rock here is great, so just motor on up. A little rope work here and there may come in handy for some people. At the end of the climb, just follow the path to the summit of Giant, which is right there.

After some snacks and a nap, just head down the hiking trail back to your car. Again, if your backcountry skiing skills are up to snuff, ski the mighty Eagle in the winter when the conditions are right just as the “Ski to Die” boys did years ago on crappy gear (leather boots and skinny skis).

- Final Thoughts

Climbing, hiking and skiing in the ADK should be about how to figure things out on your own. And because of that, I purposely left out many details so that everyone can truly explore and enjoy these two classic climbs.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Feel for the Road - One Gear Riding

A lot has been written about one gear riding (i.e., fixed gear / single speed). People talk about the purity, the simplicity, the coolness factor, etc.

For me, riding a one gear bike is all about the “feel for the road”.

Don’t get me wrong; I love riding my single crank geared bike (42 x 12-25), especially if I am planning on traveling fast and far over big hills. But on a geared bike, you really do not feel the road. As the road rises or falls, one automatically shifts to more or less maintain the same pedal cadence throughout the ride.

But on a one gear bike, it’s a different story.

As the road goes up, your cadence slows down and the effort is more pronounced. One the backside of a hard fought hill, you start to spin until you feel no more resistance and then you spin some more. Once you have “spun out”, you coast and enjoy the ride. Unless you are on a fixed, then you are still spinning like crazy.

With a one gear bike, the rider becomes much more aware of the contours of the land and the ride is that much sweeter.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The One-Two Punch

Mt. Algonquin and Mt. Marcy in One Long Winter Day

January 2001

Tom and I drive five hours North.

11 pm - ADK Loj parking lot

Midnight - hiking towards Algonquin.

We are traveling super light for a winter trek above treeline - stove and summer sleeping bags only. Less weight - more speed.

3 am - We fall asleep somewhere along the trail. Of course, we are freezing in seconds.

5 am - Get up, take a piss and push onwards.

We hit the top of Algonquin around 6 am. Amazing pink alpenglow everywhere. We are filled with energy. We run down the steep backside of Algonquin and dump into Lake Colden.

My right knee is killing me. I throw down 800 mg of vitamin I.

I'm going to pay for this later on in life.

Find a lean-to, eat, drink and take a short rest.

Decision time - head home via Avalanche Lake or stick with the original plan and head towards Marcy?

Tom votes for Marcy. I roger that.

Somewhere along the way, I bonk. I am totally spent.

Tom starts feeding me packets of GU. If I had a needle, I would have cooked that shit up and put it into my veins like a Basketball Diary junkie.

I'm moving once again. We head up.

The backside of Marcy is still a wild place, at least in the winter. We pass Lake Tear of the Clouds, the source of the mighty Hudson River. It starts so pure and ends so polluted. It's a shame.

I think it's early afternoon when we pop onto the summit of Marcy. Tons of people are there (who came up the frontside). Someone asked me where did we come from? I pointed towards Algonquin and said over there. And then I said, really.

There's a point in every adventure where you know that you are home free. As we headed down the frontside of Marcy, I knew we made it.

We were back in the ADK Loj parking lot around 6 pm.

Sleep, wake up, eat and drive home.

18 hours - 2 big peaks - light packs.

Hiking across the Great Range during winter in one long solo push enters my mind. I wonder if it's possible?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

No Bike Taxis in NYC

I just got back from the city and I noticed for the first time, lots of bike taxis in and around Times Square (remember when Times Square was just triple X theaters and hookers? Man, I miss those days.).

These oversized tricycles don’t belong on the city streets of New York. To survive on a bike in NYC, one needs to be quick (as in making decisions), fast (as in speed) and nimble (as in Jack jumped over the candle stick and missed getting doored by some dumb ass SUV).

These bike taxis clog up the streets, piss off the real cab drivers and take business away from the horse and buggies working Central Park South.

I know some cities, like San Diego, have a bunch of these bike taxis working the tourist trade down at the harbor. But New York isn’t San Diego. New York isn’t sunny, clean, healthy or happy. New York is black as a GAP t-shirt. Listen to Lou Reed’s “New York” and you’ll understand why bike taxis don’t belong here.

Keep NYC street level, the gear one and the wheels two.