This is a really long TR (it was a really long trip) but I kept it to skiing only, no corny details. Hope it's useful or something.
So I had been wanting to get out to the 'Dacks for my spring break but it seemed that everyone was going places warm, and I was just going to have to go to my parent's place in Jersey and watch TV for a week. A few days before break started I ran into a guy I had climbed with in the summer who was in the same boat as me, so we geared up, looked at maps and the Slide Guide and headed out on Saturday morning. For those who care to know, the following is what went down:
Saturday: Slog in to Marcy Dam with insanely huge backpacks. Next time I'm making a sled. No real skiing happened this day.
Sunday: We started off by just doing the climb/ski of Marcy that's described in David Goodman's book. This was a terrible idea. The trail is just annoyingly narrow, frequently blocked by face-level tree branches and sometimes logs, and worst of all, it goes down AND up. Goodman very falsely describes the trail as suitable for snowboarders. If you snowboard and you want my advice, DON'T DO THIS TRAIL.
Also, Kaj broke his tele binding on the third turn from the top, and had to tele-ski one-footed all the way to Marcy Dam. He actually did really well, I was impressed.
Monday: Went to the Mountaineers store in the morning to get a new cable. When we got back we had limited time, and I wanted to ski some slides, so we went up the Angel slides (they're the ones you can see from the lake). It was fairly steep with really thin dust on crust, the kind of conditions where you just really want to avoid falling. Kaj seemed a little uneasy so I told him to unstrap his poles so he could do self-arrest better. I went down first. When we came to the top of an extra-steep section, Kaj said he wanted to exit the current slide to a slightly shallower one on the right. He traversed out and slipped on the first turn, dropping his un-strapped pole, and went for a wild 100-foot uncontrolled fall before catching a tree. I went over to get his pole for him and slipped on the same bare spot that sent him down, but managed to get some edges and pole points in to stop the fall. I hadn't picked up his pole though, so I bootpacked up and got it, and that's when I had a really bad fall. Without the skis I couldn't stop and the ski-pole self arrest just wasn't doing it -- and I was picking up speed real quick. Falling from the same spot, I was on a beeline for Kaj, and I thought "I'm either going to slam into this guy and take him out out or I'm gonna whiz right by and go another 100 feet into those trees..." I came down about three feet to his right, and he actually leaped out and CAUGHT me. He really saved my ass there, I owe him big time. At least I held onto all three ski poles.
Tuesday: I still felt comfortable on the slides, and was hopeful that conditions had improved a little with the morning sun, but Kaj wanted nothing to do with the slides that day, so we went up to Avalanche lake for a really flat "tour" where we passed numerous old ladies on XC gear. Regardless, the views were totally stunning and the ice climbing potential looked really good. I needed my downhill fix though, so I hiked up into the Trap Dike (right before the extreme part) and did two little one-minute fun runs in the sun. The Dike looked really cool and I think that with the right conditions, it would make a real gnarly ski line. (Does anybody know if this has been done?)
Wednesday: Summited Algonquin and Wright and did the Wright Peak Ski Trail (as described in Goodman's Book). I lost further respect for him on this one. His directions are obscure and contain at least one blatant error (he says turn right to the east, when a right is actually the west, or vice versa, I can't remember, but just know that the compass direction is wrong, not the left/right part). He also describes the trail as plenty wide for making turns, but for a long time at the top it is extremely hard to follow and goes uphill a lot. We spent about a half hour whacking through the woods at 4:00 in deteriorating conditions, and I was getting really pissed. Luckily, the trail DOES widen up, and it made for some awesome skiing (it even had some jumps) in great conditions. If you guys try this one, hike up from the bottom and put your skis on when the trail disappears into the trees. We skinned out that evening and went back to Burlington after 9 hours of nonstop skinning and skiing.
I wish we had done some more slides. I'll probably be back in the spring skiing them as a closer alternative to Tux.
- If you're going camping, bring a freakin' sled.
- Before you go, make sure you and your partner are talking about the same thing when you use the term "ski tour."
- If you ride tele gear, for god sakes bring an extra cable.
- And watch out for those damn ferrets. They stole pounds of food despite more and more extreme measures to make it inaccessible.