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.