One of the lesser visited peaks in the Adirondacks being only the eleventh in height. It is to the climber one of the most interesting of the high peaks. Its west side is dominated by a large and impressive dike, which drops off into Avalanche Lake and has long been considered the Adirondack's finest slab climbs. There is a second shorter dike which is a 5.6~5.7 climb and rarely done and there are a number of other slides on this side as well.
It’s east side is dominated by a number of large slides which have stripped off a lot of its vegetation. The best is the 1990 slide that goes from the bottom of the mountain all the way to the summit and it now very popular with skiers.
The peak is usually less crowed than Marcy and Algonquin but do expect a few dozen people on it most weekends. It offers a unique view of both Algonquin and Marcy and a spectacular view down the dike into Avalanche Lake. Not to be missed is the trail on Avalanche Lake, which gives an impressive view, back up the mountain and no end of ladders, bridges, rocks and the famous 'Hitch er up Matildas'.
The standard route starts at Lake Colden traversing S to N along the summit ridge to Lake Arnold. The reverse route is also quite popular.
Normally one would camp at Marcy dam or at lake Colden because of the distance to involved.
The real great route is the west slope from Avalanche Lake up through the trap dike and over the bare rock to the summit a class 4 scramble. There is also the second shorter unnamed dike further north along Lake Colden it is a 5.6~5.7 but very hard to access due to the lake, one either has to swim out to the start or climb up and then across some very wet, exposed and unprotectable rock and then down into the dike.
The usual trail head is Adirondack Loj but one can also access from the other side of the park.
Same rules as all the other Adirondack peaks. If you are going to try the dike route be prepared to prove to the local rangers you can do it. They may stop you from trying it. Normally they stop you to save the "fragile alpine environment" but in reality there have been a number of people have come to grief on the east slope of this peak and as such they discourage this route. It should only be attempted by experienced climbers who are properly equipped especially in winter.
As of June 30th, 2001 all parties regardless of size in the Eastern Zone (High Peaks) of the Park must fill in and possess a self-issuing "trip ticket," which may be obtained at the trailhead. People have been fined and turned around for not having one and at the more popular trailheads the Ranger on duty will not let you pass without one. This can cause some delays in getting onto the trail.
When To Climb
All seasons are good but the dike is best in winter.
some good sites
Adirondack Hiking Portal
Same rules as all the other Adirondack peaks.
1) No Camping above 4,000 feet
2) No camping withing 150 feet of a stream or other water source except at a designated campsite.
3) No soap or washing withing 150 feet of water
4) Pack it in Pack it out is the rule for garbage
5) Only dead and down wood can be used for fires and set in a proper fire pit. ( local etiquette is to use a stove and not a fire)
Whats in a Name
David C. Colden is a long forgotten businessman with no connection with the local mountains save being a investor in a local mining concern, the McIntyre Iron Works.
He was present when Lake Colden was reached in 1836 and the peak and lake where named after him on the spot. At that time he was only a potential investor so I guess this was a way to make him a full investor.
I doubt that he ever climbed it as one of the key locals involved in naming the peaks, Ebenezer Emmons, tried to get the name changed to McMartin, another of the proprietors of the McIntyre Iron Works.
The peak is also considered the birthplace or rock climbing in the Adirondacks as it was via the Trap Dike that the peak was first climbed in 1850 by Robert Clarke and Alexander Ralph the first route in the Adirondacks that would be above Class 3 on the YDS.