Thursday, July 8, 2010

Adirondack Slide Climb

Slide climbing can be an exciting way to explore the Adirondacks, combining elements of both hiking and rock climbing. The wide open expanses of rock provide outstanding views and as a bonus, many Adirondack slides become backcountry ski destinations in the winter, including the slides pictured here.

Our route ascends the third major slide from the left

While the Adirondacks are one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet, they are also a dynamic, changing landscape. These slides were formed recently, in 1993.

Davie heads straight up

Like most Adirondack slides, these were formed as the result of a an unusually heavy summer downpour. Rainwater soaks the thin, high elevation soils and eventually the soil gives way, stripping soil, roots and vegetation down to the underlying white anorthosite bedrock.

Some recommended slide climbs in the High Peaks include Giant (the Bottle and Eagle slides), Colden (the Trap Dike), Nippletop, Gothics, the Dix range, Whiteface and others.  Make sure you bring along a map, guidebook, route-finding skills and hiking shoes with good friction. Steeper slides may require a climbing rope, shoes and gear plus the know-how to use them.

Post your guess in the comments below if you think you know the location of the slides pictured above.


  1. 10 Archived Comments:November 3, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Snowballs said...
    You live an interesting life Jeff. Question though, when slide climbing is it advisable to descend back down the slide or take a trail down if avaliable?
    July 8, 2010 10:42 AM

    Jeff said...
    Good question. Descending a slide can be treacherous. It's almost always preferable to descend via a trail or herd path. All of the slides mentioned above have good hiking trail descent routes. The first photo in the post above was actually taken from our descent route on the marked hiking trail. Care to take a guess at the location of the slides? If you're familiar with the High Peaks region, it's not too tough.
    July 8, 2010 12:14 PM

    Jamesdeluxe said...
    I like the second pic.
    July 8, 2010 12:46 PM

    Harvey44 said...
    Not exactly on topic, but I'd rather hike up a mountain twice, than hike up and down. To me, the up feels like natural exercise and down not so much. I have no idea about the name or location of the slide. Agree with James though - cool pic.
    July 8, 2010 1:59 PM

    Jeff said...
    Better yet Harv, hike up and SKI down: these slides are a popular backcountry ski destination. Wait until winter though. ;)
    July 8, 2010 5:57 PM

    Anonymous said...
    Thanks for the info...I simply assumed that no vegetation grew on these outcrops. Now I am going to have to visit the bottom of one--to see the ensuing pile of earthen debris. PS. I love climbing these.
    July 9, 2010 2:29 PM

    Jeff said...
    Slides definitely can have vegetation. Over time, lichens and mosses give way to brush and eventually trees. So newer slides such as these tend to be clean, whereas older slides may be partially vegetated. At the base of most slides there is a debris pile.

    By the way, these slides are on the north side of Dix Mountain. The Round Pond trail from Route 73 to Dix passes quite near the base of the slides.
    July 10, 2010 12:46 PM

    Harvey44 said...
    Jeff ... you told! I was JUST about to guess Dix! ;0
    July 10, 2010 1:01 PM

    Anonymous said...
    I am interested in doing a relatively moderate slide climb. I have climbed 21 of the high peaks so I am familiar with the Adirondacks, however I don't have much slide experience. I have climbed Saddleback and Gothics and Katahdin, so I am comfortable on exposed rock. That being said I am looking for a slide which would allow for at least 15 miles roundtrip and I'd like to overnight (we live in NYC and wanna make it count). Any suggestions on moderate slides to climb? Any comments are welcomed. Thank you.
    September 24, 2010 2:12 PM

  2. 10 Archived Comments:November 3, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    Jeff said...
    Anon,the slides pictured in this post (the Dix Mountain slides) would make an excellent choice for you. You hike in from the Round Pond trailhead at Route 73. There is excellent camping in the vicinity of Round Pond, just a mile or so in, and there’s also a leanto and good campsites not far from the base of these slides. Another excellent option for you would be the Bennie’s Brook slide up Lower Wolf Jaws that I recently wrote about. There is excellent camping in the Johns Brook Valley not far from the start of the slide climb, and as an added bonus you could score a couple extra peaks while you were in there if time allowed. In addition to climbing LWJ you could climb Upper Wolf Jaws, Armstrong and Gothics. You could also climb Big Slide from that part of the Johns Brook Valley.

    Another suggestion is the spectacular slides on Giant. I highly recommend the Eagle slide. It is a little steeper than the other slides I mentioned above, and the approach is a little more difficult, but I think it’s one of the best slide climbs in the Adirondacks. For Giant, there is good car camping at Chapel Pond near the Roaring Brook Falls trailhead. You should consult Barbara McMartin’s guidebooks for more information including detailed maps for these slide climbs. I believe the Dix slides and Bennie’s Brook slide are covered in the High Peaks volume, and the Giant slides are covered in the Northeastern Adirondacks volume. Or shoot me an email at: and I’ll back-channel you some additional information and more ideas.

    Happy Trails!
    September 24, 2010 6:17 PM