I was feeling restless Friday night, so I rang TEO to see of he was up for
something. Around 8:30 I was on my way to Burlington, where we hung around
till 12:30 or so,when we got the idea to just head over now instead of
wasting time in the morning. Turns out the Crown Pt bridge is only
open nights now, so it was a good choice, but we got lost in the
Mines of Moriah anyway and blew any time it would have saved us.
Sometime around 4AM we rolled into South Meadow.

Commotion in the lot and a brilliant sun woke me at 7, and I think
somebody stepped on Matt at aroud the same time (he slept in the middle of
the trail, figuring it would be as reliable an alarm clock as any). Our
logn night's rest complete, we set about rubbing the sand out of our eyes
and hit the trail sometime around 8.

If you're doing any hiking around the Loj, South Meadow is the way to go
for a couple good reasons. For one thing it's free (they wanted 8 bucks at
the Loj, fat chance!), and although it's .3 miles further from Marcy Dam
the walk is along a totally flat and boulder free dirt road, which saves
needed energy for later (and on the way out you can pretty much sleep walk
the last 2.7 mi). Anyway, we trotted to  Marcy Dam in well under an hour
where we gawked at he new slides/ski trails on Colden and Wright. It is my
firm belief that these things are caused by Mother Nature extending her
middle finger toward the 12 foot (or whatever it is) max width rule that
restricts Dacks BC ski trail development. All I can say is thank YOU lady!

Before long we were gaping at the destruction caused by the Floyd slide as
we picked our way among the debris (another great new ski trail, as
evidenced by the pile of emergency probes new stashed at the base of it).
Sometime after 10:30 we arrived at the base of the Dike, ahead of a larger
group we passed while negotiating the maze of climbers paths on the east
side of the lake.

The climb starts out easy enough, following a bouldery stream bed into the
chasm, and then stair stepping up a series of waterfalls. These got
increasingly bigger, until we reached the crux of the route (for me, at
least) where you have to scramble through a few moderately exposed
3rd-4th class moves next to a 50 foot waterfall. Cool.

Just above the waterfall, we adhered to guidebook advice and didnt take
the first herd path out to the slab on the right (it was hard to resist, I
love slab climbing and the first bit looked fun).So we kept climbing, up
more stepped terrain, until finally we could break out right to the slab.
Once out of the dike the route was obvious, up the middle of the big slab
to the top, picking the driest route we could find. By this point, all we
could see past the horizon just below us (great bowling ball effect on
this route) were the wooden walkways on the other side of Avalanche Lake
some 1500 feet below.

I had a blast padding my way along the grippy anorthosite in my new sticky
rubber approach shoes, while Matt struggled to convince himself of the
physics of slab climbing. On a slab (basically hold-less low-angle rock)
the best friction comes from standing straight up, which on a pitch like
we had on the upper half of Colden pretty much means going no handed (even
on steeper slabs, you only use hands for balance, it's all in the feet).
Unfortunately, most people instinctually want to go on all fours and hug
the rock, which just takes weight off your feet and reduces the
effectiveness of your shoes even further. It's easy to understand the
logic behind it, but when there is 1500 feet of exposure below and you
aren't used to slabs, even the most convincing free-body diagrams fall a
bit short. In Matt's case, he was stuck with my earlier explanation of the
term "crayoning" still fresh in his head, which probably did not help

Anyway, it actually went pretty well, and once Matt's instinct caught up
to him, we cruised the summit. The view was expansive, from the obvious
scar of the Eagle on Giant, to the spooky heights of Gothics' North Face
to the hulking mass of Marcy just across the Opalescent. The SW slide was
in plain view from the summit too, yet another amazing Dacks descent just
begging to be skied. We taunted ourselves for close to an hour, and then
began the long descent back to the Meadow.

And long it was, if it werent for that nap at Lake Arnold I would have
fallen asleep on my feet and walked off into one of the many  beaver dams
along the trail. But I didnt, and we popped out of the woods waaay too
early at 4 something. Halfway throgh our victory beers, the skies opened
up, so I suppose it was perfect timing .. but somehow a climb just doesnt
seem complete without a dark harrowing descent by failing headlamp,
dont ya think?


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