New Avalanche Pass Slide
Tropical Storm Irene created a number of new slides in the Adirondack High Peaks, including one that starts just off the trail in Avalanche Pass. The mile-long route is more difficult than most slides. Climbers have the option of bushwhacking from the top of the slide for 0.35 miles to the summit of Little Colden. I rated the slide Class 4, but others may consider it only Class 3.
Start at the High Peaks Information Center near Adirondak Loj, located at the end of Adirondak Loj Road. The road starts on State Route 73 a few miles southeast of Lake Placid village. An alternative approach is via the Marcy Dam Truck Trail. This starts off South Meadow Road, which is a left turn off Adirondak Loj Road. From Adirondak Loj, take the Van Hoevenberg Trail 2.3 miles to Marcy Dam (the truck trail also leads to the dam). Just past the dam, turn right onto the trail to Avalanche Lake and follow this for 1.6 miles to the top of Avalanche Pass. There you will hike along the base of a shortish, wide slide created by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Start down the other side of the pass. In a few minutes you will reach the base of the new slide, which is narrower and longer than the first slide. It is on the left side of the trail.
From the trail walk a hundred feet over mud deposited by the slide to the start of the clean rock. The slide and the wall to its left form an open book, with a small stream running down the crease. Besides climbing upward, the slide slopes steeply toward the stream. This double fall line makes the slide harder than most. The easiest way up would be to stick close to the stream, but it's more enjoyable to scramble over the freshly exposed white anorthosite. Given the steepness of the slide's tilt, this may require rock-climbing moves such as stemming, toe jamming, and laybacks, not to mention smearing. The slope angle is often between 35 and 45 degrees, sometimes greater. Rock-climbing shoes are recommended, not only for security, but also for fun. Toward the top the slide loses its tilt, but the forward slope remains steep, exceeding 45 degrees in places. At the very top, the slide abuts an old slide on the left. Follow this a short distance to the end.
On the ascent, climbers will enjoy views of a number of the High Peaks. The closest are Algonquin Peak and Wright Peak directly across the valley. The views get wider as you climb.
At the end of the slide, climbers can bushwhack straight up to the Little Colden ridge. The distance is short, but the cripple bush is thick. Once on the ridge, the woods open somewhat. Follow the ridge south to the summit of Little Colden, located a little northeast of the bigger Mount Colden. The smaller summit offers excellent views of the High Peaks. The bushwhack from the top of the slide to Little Colden is 0.35 miles.
To return to the Loj by the shortest route, descend to Lake Arnold by the L. Morgan Porter Trail, then turn left at a junction and hike back to the Avalanche Lake trail. From there, retrace your route to the Loj. The return hike is 5.9 miles. For a longer trip, climbers can bag Mount Colden as well.
Rock-climbing shoes. Sturdy clothing for the bushwhack.
External LinksRead another description of the Avalanche Pass slide here.