Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cascade Mountain, Lucky 7 Slide: 10/26/2015

View of the Great Range and Marcy from Cascade, Monday 10/26/2015.

The Saratoga Skier and Hiker, first-hand accounts of adventures in the Adirondacks and beyond, and Gore Mountain ski blog.

If you’ve ever hiked a High Peak, odds are it’s Cascade. Being the easiest and most accessible of the 46, Cascade gets climbed far more frequently than any other 4000-footer. While the summit offers great views, you don’t hike Cascade for solitude or wildness. But thanks to Hurricane Irene in 2011, a new slide provides an alternate route for more adventurous, experienced climbers.

Cascade’s “new” slide isn’t really new, Irene just scoured it out and enlarged it. Viewed from Lake Placid, the slide resembles a number 7 etched into Cascade’s flanks, so it's known as the Number 7 or Lucky 7 slide. My wife Beth and I climbed the Lucky 7 slide on Monday in beautiful but somewhat challenging late fall conditions.

Cascade's cascade

Beth topping out above the falls

The crux of the climb comes right at the start: ascending the huge cascading (hence the name of the mountain) waterfall that forms the foot of the slide directly above Upper Cascade Lake. With overnight temps well below freezing, the 4th class scramble up the waterfall would have been a death wish, so we picked our way through the trees on the left to the top of the falls.

One of many small pools above the falls

Loose rubble on one of the low-angle sections

Small waterfalls pour over the steeper sections of the slide path

Above the falls, bedrock slabs were stripped practically bare by Irene, giving the route a raw, wild character. Wet areas and a few steeper sections demand attention, but for the most part the climbing is straightforward. And like most slide climbs there are spectacular views the whole way up.

Lucky 7's headwall

Beth climbing the rubble below the headwall

The upper reaches of the slide are steep and wide

A short but steep headwall marks the top of the slide, with a huge debris field from Irene immediately below. Although it’s possible to climb the headwall slabs, wet and icy conditions Monday made that out of the question. Instead, we skirted the headwall to the left and climbed the remaining half mile and 600+ vertical feet to Cascade’s summit through beautiful birch and spruce glades.

Frosted birches

Climbing through birch and spruce glades above the slide

Closing in on the summit

As bushwhacks go, the woods above the slide are relatively open and easy to navigate. But the mountain had gotten a pretty good frosting of snow above 3000 feet, and we were both pretty chilled by the time we broke out onto the rocks below the summit. But sixty seconds later we were on top of the world, taking in Cascade’s glorious 360-degree views of Marcy, Algonquin, Whiteface and the rest of the High Peaks.

Just about to top out

Algonquin and Colden

Crossing Cascade's rocky summit, Whiteface in the background

With temperatures in the low 20s and a steady breeze out of the north, the bright sun did little to take the chill out of the air. We snapped our photos, soaked in the views, and found a sheltered spot to eat our lunch before heading back down the 2.4 mile hiking trail.

The Great Range from Cascade's summit

Gothics and Cascade above Big Slide's shoulder

Heading down

If you go: Park at the day use area between the Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes on Route 73. An obvious herd path leads to the base of the falls. Descending the hiking trail brings you back to Route 73 about three quarters of a mile from the start.

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