West Face Slides
Dix Mountain is riddled with slides, and west face alone contains no less than nine. The author has combined these slides into four groups (from south to north): Devil’s Pitchfork (3), Triangle (1), “V” (2), and Hunters (3). These names are unofficial. To the best of my knowledge, they do not have official names, and since I’ve climbed two of the four groups (and have not found documentation of previous ascents), I’m taking the liberty of naming them.
West Face Slides Aerial Water
Begin at the Elk Lake Trailhead. Hike past the Slide Brook and Lililan Brook lean-tos. You will soon be hiking parallel to a brook that flows from Hunters Pass. When the gradient begins to level off, look to your right… you should be able to see views of the Devil's Pitchfork, Triangle, and V slides; and the drainage that leads to them. Pick a spot to cross the brook, and ascend the drainage that leads to the slides (the handle of the Devil’s Pitchfork). Although relatively open at first, you’ll soon reach an area with significant blowdown and landslides.
Within this area of blowdown, you’ll reach an obvious fork in the drainage. Go left to reach the “V” slide (if you continue straight ahead you’ll reach the Devil’s Pitchfork slides). There is relatively little blowdown in this side drainage. As you continue up the drainage you’ll ascend areas of slab, and some bouldering will also be required. The drainage reaches an obvious end at base of left finger of "V" slide. If you wish to climb the right finger, immediately angle to right (a short bushwhack will be required).
It should be noted that pre-trip we called the southern-most slides The Pitchfork. While squeezing through and over the blowdown and landslides within the drainage leading to the Pitchfork, Triangle, and "V" slides (the handle of the pitchfork), we noticed that it was fresh... like two days old fresh. Some freak storm really unloaded a fury in this spot, and this spot only. Portions of the drainage walls were very unstable, with large boulders appearing to be hanging on by a few grains of sand. After navigating through these dismal areas, we subsequently named the slides the "Devils Pitchfork".
There is not much to say in this section, the ascent of the slide is straight-forward.
Although there is nothing technical on this slide, it is steep, and there is definitely exposure.
Those attempting this slide should be comfortable with heights… this is not a slide you want to “freeze” on.
A vast majority of the rock has good grip, but always be careful on wet sections.
You can make the climb easier or harder depending on the obvious routes that lie ahead. At the top of the slide, ascend through a mix of thick cripplebrush, slab, and block to the summit.
Typical gear required for hiking and bushwhacking, including long sleeves, long pants, and eye protection
Approach shoes with good soles or rock shoes. If you bring boots, you may want to un-lace the uppers to give your ankles more range of motion.
Some may feel more comfortable using rope, but it is not necessary. If you bring rope, know how to use it. There are few places to install protection. Don’t trust the vegetation on the side of the slide to support your weight.
You may consider bringing gloves. The rock is imbedded with sharp mineral deposits. Although they help with grip, they can make micro-cuts on your fingertips.
: The author has no knowledge of winter ascents of these slides. Obviously, be aware of avalanche potential... these slides are here for a reason.
: Expect hot, hazy, and humid weather. Being on the west side of the mountain, a morning ascent will avoid the full intensity of the sun.
: Expect ice and snow to remain on the upper portions of the slide into mid-May. This area is likely a blackfly breeding ground. Typical blackfly season is Memorial Day (late May) to Independence Day (early July).
: Expect ice and snow on the upper portions of the slide beginning in early October. Since the slides are on the west side of the mountain, overnight frosts may linger until late morning.
The author ascended the left finger of this slide with MudRat in August 2006.