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Old 07-26-2018, 02:21 PM   #1
new to high peaks
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: ottawa on
Posts: 31
Colden Via Trap Dike

Hello Everyone,

Coming back down for the first time in years, I still want to get the Marcy checkmark but I read about Colden via Avalanche pass up the Dike and am stoked to try it out but...
I feel confident enough in my rock climbing/scrambling ability to be able to deal with the 2nd waterfall and then the slabs but I am bringing my girlfriend, she is a solid hiker but does not have any experience over 1500 feet. Now the responsible guide in me says that I should probably just stick to Marcy but the seeker in me really wants to do something that requires a bit more focus, if you will. I feel like she could do it but at the same time I haven't hiked with her in this type of environment. We did switchbacks in Hawaii and it was a piece of cake, she has the fitness to do it but I am just not sure on her technical ability for something like this.
I could bring rope and belay and tie off as we go up the slab as it does look truly steep.

Everyone here has been very helpful in the past and offered solid advice. And yes I know...if in doubt just don't do it would be your best advice but I am asking for your advice as if I was to do this with her. I am still undecided and honestly looking at leaning more to just taking the walk up to marcy, but it just looks so amazing not to try it!

What do you think?
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Old 07-26-2018, 02:31 PM   #2
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,565
The dike is generally easy except for the waterfall you mentioned. Before and after the falls, it's lots of hand-over-hand climbing; normal caution will suffice, but the waterfall is a good 20' vertical pitch and this is where trouble can happen, especially with water coming down over you and making the rocks slippery. Dry weather helps! Some climbers bring a rope, but know how to use it and know how to do a proper belay.

When you reach the new Irene slide (can't miss it, it comes right into the dike), you have a choice, go up the Irene slide or bushwhack south and climb the 1869 slide. Getting out of the dike and onto the Irene slide can be a bit tricky. I went right for a seem in the middle of it and was up and over the wall and onto the slab with no trouble. You probably won't nee a rope for the slides.

If the Irene slide spooks you, do the bushwhack over to the 1869 slide. This is the old way up and quite safe, although steep and exposed for some folks.
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Old 07-26-2018, 02:46 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2005
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All good info.

Also know that you can stay in the channel of the dike all the way to the summit ridge, if any of the slabs prove to be a problem. It's a bit of a miserable bushwhack, but if you need an exit, it works.

For the slabs, if you can get some old (comfortable) rock shoes (beg, borrow, buy used rentals at a gym, etc.) they really make it super easy. You can do it just fine in hiking shoes, but rock shoes are certainly better if you can get them. If you are doing the slabs in your hiking shoes, wear soft conforming shoes like trail runners. Slabs are not fun in rigid clunky boots.

For the second waterfall, a bit of beta: when it gets to the short steep part that dundee mentioned, you will see sort of a chimney. Stay OUT of that. It sucks people in, because it seems to provide relief from exposure, but it's not a good line. The holds run out half way up, and it's a bit slick. Instead, climb on the arÍte just left of the chimney. Good square cut and incut holds all the way up on the arÍte.
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Old 07-26-2018, 03:01 PM   #4
Join Date: Aug 2005
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One more thing: I've taken and gone with people who didn't do rock climbing/scrambling as a regular part of their hiking and they did ok. Some of these were folks wearing clodhopper hiking boots, they did ok. The waterfall spooks some folks, but if you TAKE YOUR TIME, have someone with you and plan out each hand & foothold, you should be ok.

TCD makes a good point here: hiking boots aren't the best in the dike or on the slabs. Rock shoes or trail runners (what I used) work much better. They will fit into the cracks & crevices of the dike and are softer for better grip on the slides.

If you get partway up the waterfall, there is no going back! Descending the dike is NOT recommended.
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Old 07-26-2018, 04:59 PM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 75
I agree with all that has been said. I like to always predicate any advice on climbing the Dyke by saying that a fall on the waterfall could be fatal so assess your abilities and experience accurately!...Regarding specifics, you'll need a 60 foot section of 8mm rope for the waterfall. You'll probably not need it on the upper slab if you scramble onto the slab via ledges on the right (and perhaps spot your girlfriend at the one short boulder move off the ledge)...For the waterfall, you'll need to be comfortable soloing it. You'll then anchor yourself and belay her up (she and you should have light harnesses). There are 2 choices for anchors. There is a fixed rescue anchor on a large ledge up and left of the top of the waterfall. This can be easily walked over to after climbing the waterfall but belaying from there doesn't provide the best climbing angle for the second. The other choice is to bring 2 cams (small/medium size - .5 roughly) and make your own anchor in a horizontal slot/crack 10 feet above the top of the technical portion of the waterfall. It is on the right side of the stream...I anchor myself there using my rope and belay from a spot right at the top of the waterfall so I can see my second and lend a tight rope or vocal support if needed. Thus I also bring a few carabiners, a sling or two and a belay device...If this sounds confusing or you haven't done any lead climbing then you should play it safe and have a great hiking day elsewhere...
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:11 PM   #6
Join Date: Oct 2015
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If someone doesn't have experience above 1500 feet, I think the Trap Dyke would be a tall order!
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:35 PM   #7
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New England
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I disagree about the big clunky hiking buts. Yes, they are nowhere nearly as good as a proper climbing or a true approach shoe, but I'd take my clunky Limmers with good, semi-sticky Vibram soles over a trail shoe any day. Having a stiff sole allows you to edge on cracks.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:02 PM   #8
Trail Boss
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Originally Posted by TEO View Post
... with good, semi-sticky Vibram soles over a trail shoe any day. Having a stiff sole allows you to edge on cracks.
Geez, the one thing I'd never call classic Vibram soles is 'semi-sticky', unless I was being sarcastic! As for 'edge on cracks', there's not much call for that in the Trap Dike nor on the Trap Dike Slide. When there is a need for crack-climbing, pretty much all climbers since the 80's wear lightweight rock-shoes (remember EB's and Fires?) not massive leather boots with a sole pattern copied from hob-nailed boots.

Full Disclosure
For my first ascent of the Trap Dike, back in the early 80's, I wore Asolo Yukon boots, with a half-cow's worth of hide stitched Norwegian style to another half-cow of mid-sole, glued to a classic Vibram sole. About 5 pounds of old-school footwear. I still have them but never wear 'em.

I returned to climb the Trap Dike in 2013 shod in La Sportiva Raptor trail-runners. They weigh what one Yukon boot does and I had no problem scaling the Dike with their comparatively soft but very sticky soles. In fact, I had an easier time.
Looking for views!
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Old 08-01-2018, 01:39 PM   #9
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Appreciate the replies. I never liked hiking boots at all, too stiff and always found them too slippery for climbing. I have used The North Face Ultra Fastpack II GTX's for the last 4 years and found them great. Wore them for Alonquin/wright and for Mount Washington in NH and the smaller climbs up here in Ottawa.

As for the plans, talked to her about it and decided to just do Marcy via the VH trail. Weather looks to be nice for Sunday so hoping it holds.

Thanks everybody! I'll probably be back in September myself to tackle colden via the trap and avalanche pass.
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