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Old 02-12-2012, 09:18 PM   #1
terryajADK
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Conquering Colden

CLICK FOR PICTURES


Got a 7:45 am start from the Loj to climb Colden via Lake Arnold. Trails were hard packed and I moved very vast up to the Avalanche Lake / Lake Arnold trail junction. Heading up I passed one hiker with a pretty big pack and then met two hikers at the Indian Falls Junction. They were coming down from Colden and were headed over to climb TableTop and Phelps. I quickly made it to Lake Arnold where I enjoyed some rest and food.

From Lake Arnold the snow got deeper but microspikes were sufficient. Arriving at the false summit the wind was really whipping. I could see two more people toward the real summit. I snapped a few photos and headed back into the trees. While in the shelter of the trees I bundled up for the final push to the summit. I passed the two hikers who were descending and wished them well.

On the actual summit the wind wasn't too bad except for the occasional gust. I could make out Algonquin across the way. It was fairly clouded in but the sun was shining brightly. I made my way over to get a view of Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden. Where the Lake Colden Trail began it started to get icy. I decided to push on and descend to Lake Colden. After making it down a bit I looked down to see a series of icy ledges and feared that I would have to turn around, but I realized the trail skirted to the left avoiding them. I pushed on to realize that I was slightly to the left of the trail. I was faced with the decision of turning around or sliding down about a 4 foot slab on ice to meet the trail.

There was a significant snow bank and large rock on the other side of the trail after the ice ledge so I knew that if I fell I would be safe. I started to slowly back down and gravity took over. I slid down the ice on my stomach into the snowbank basically right on the trail. I sort of banged my knees on a rock but I was not hurt. Had it been sheer cliff below or had there been no snowbank or large rocks to break my fall, I would not have tried to descend. I felt completely safe on the part of the trail just above this where you can basically look straight off the cliff. It was also too late to put on my crampons because this part of the trail was very exposed to the wind. After I took the tumble it was easy to descend and I shortly arrived at the ladder right at the alpine zone sign, which I knew from the guidebook meant I was on the right course.

After this it was fast down to Lake Colden, and Avalanche Lake which was truly stunning. The ice was solid across the Lake but it got very cold, since the pass was acting like a wind tunnel. I looked over to my right to see the trap dyke. Crazy to think that someone lost their life at that very spot not too long ago. The hike out from here was very fast and I was back to the Loj by 3:10 pm.

Next time before reaching an exposed summit with visible ice I will put on my crampons. A mountaineering axe would have been helpful on the ledge where I slid. Just after the summit I had a classic moment that would come straight from a movie. My trekking pole hit a small ball of ice and I watched and listened to the ice ball as it slid down and off the cliff to the depths below.

High Peak #10 for me. #5 winter.
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:24 PM   #2
Pete Hogan
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Classic!

terryajADK,

One of the classic hikes in the High Peaks! Congratulations on a memorable adventure!
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terryajADK View Post
Heading up I passed one hiker with a pretty big pack and then met two hikers at the Indian Falls Junction. They were coming down from Colden and were headed over to climb TableTop and Phelps.
Hey there... Guess that was Doug and I at the Indian Falls Junction. Looks like we both had a successful day! Nice running into you on the trails.
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Old 02-13-2012, 10:21 AM   #4
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Sounds like it was an epic hike, Alex! Congratulations on your 10th.
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Old 02-13-2012, 02:23 PM   #5
AkRon Ron
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Nice TR, thanks and congrats on getting Colden. I was about to ask what the date was then saw Photobug65's reply and recalled reading his post and figured it out to be Feb 12. We're attempting Colden this weekend so was glad to see your pictures, thanks for posting.
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Old 02-13-2012, 07:06 PM   #6
terryajADK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photobug65 View Post
Hey there... Guess that was Doug and I at the Indian Falls Junction. Looks like we both had a successful day! Nice running into you on the trails.
It was nice running into you. I was glad to talk to someone about the conditions before making the final push upward!
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