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Old 05-07-2012, 09:27 PM   #1
mudrat
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Wilmington Mountain Slide 5/6/12

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Kevin Pictures
Gregory Karl Pictures

Introduction:
I was driving from Plattsburg to Ausable Forks last autumn when I noticed something seemed out of place in the distance. There was a new slide north of Whiteface…or I had my eyes closed on every other visit through that area. I placed it in the back of my mind under ‘climb later’ drawer in my mental filing cabinet.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon updated post-Irene imagery on the DEC site which had the effect of opening my ‘climb later’ archive. My mystery slide apparently began on the northeastern flank of Wilmington Peak (aka Wilmington #1). It dropped a bit and then tracked east. Including the runout, it’s nearly a mile in length with 800 vertical feet of slab.

I didn’t consider taking a hike/climb until Saturday evening and even then I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood. Regardless of my indecision, I called Gregory Karl to see if he had any interest in exploring a minor slide followed by a bushwhack to Cooper Kiln Pond. I call the slide ‘minor’ because it has decreased in size (in my mind) from when I saw it in the autumn from afar. He declined at first, I went to church and figured I’d make my final decision back at my house. Greg left a message that he was indeed up for a short climbg which solidified my decision as well.


Upper 800 vertical feet.

On the 'Trail'
We began at the Bonnieview Road trailhead to Cooper Kiln Pond and followed the path to about 1850’ in elevation then bushwhacked roughly north through some varied terrain and down into the drainage. In retrospect, it would have been easier to walk up to the sharp elbow of the snowmobile trail ( It goes from northwest to southwest). You can easily see the slide runout a couple hundred feet to the north from that point.

I was surprised by the width of the drainage…35 or so feet most of the way, with some nice clumps of mature trees stacked 10’ thick at various turns. A rock hop up the gentle grade made for an enjoyable climb in under full sun and a dark blue sky. We briefly hopped out of the drainage onto an old grown in logging road at around 2250 in elevation, just above the aforementioned elbow of the trail. An orange disk drew my attention to the area. I’m assuming it was there long before the washout and marked the stream/road crossing.

A few minutes later the upper sections of slide came into view. It changed from a western to southwestern ascent just beyond an adjacent slide (about one hundred feet in length)…also a new exposure. At the bottom of the first segment of open rock, Gregory and I respectively changed into approach and rock climbing shoes.

The slab, beginning at 2550 and up to a dominant ledge was variably clean rock with minimal exposure. Some interesting dikes crossed here and there…basalt and feldspar being the most interesting ones. Climbing was pretty laid back up the mild pitch of rough rolling stone. The 15’ ledge intersected the slide at the gentle turn and marked a transition to some wonderful ledge sets. Greg climbed the ledges on the left..and I in center. He stayed on the cleanest (and smartest) line. I was curious about any interesting/challenging climbs toward the center and scrambled up the thick layer of mud to check it out. I wriggled up a precarious segment about 10’ high. A few clean patches in the dirty wall gave me juuuuust enough purchase. Greg snapped pics as I emerged atop the ledge and crawled up into more, you guessed it, mud.

We now had a great view to the east and discussed the various mountains and roadways that unfolded to Lake Champlain. Fern Lake could also be seen in the distance, still partially occluded by the ridge.

The next hundred or so feet was still very dirty, though some open rock managed to peak through the detritus. I cared not since I had my eye on the steep headwall…well over 100’ high and averaging about 45 degrees and well more in places. I saw a couple lines that looked interesting and decided to take on a wall of ledges near the center left. The more conservative/safer option would have been along the right-hand side.


Greg looking up the conservative route. Do I, don't I, do I, don't I.....?

I accessed the lowest portion of the main wall on the bottom left, using a fracture in the face. Once atop the first ledge, striations of stone gave it plenty of relief. Greg was by now exploring along the right-hand side at the bottom.

The sandy/granular surface of the stone quickly became annoying. Even where clean, the surface shed a fair amount of grains. I needed to keep a constant alertness regarding traction. I’m not sure how many times I cleaned the bottom of my shoes on my leg or kicked them off. Intermittent dirt also made the steep face more of a challenge. Abundant handholds, however, modestly counterbalanced the traction issues underfoot. Fractures and lumps of minerals projected in enough areas where I was comfortable climbing with high exposure. As I climbed a steeper face about 50 feet up from the bottom, I heard Gregory urging me to be careful. *(I don’t think my unconventional ‘trekking pole-in-hand’ climbing method looked very graceful from a distance ). I appreciated the concern and heeded his words by nature, but felt confident in my position, though I did tighten my grip a couple times as a foot slightly slid unexpectedly.


Yeah, it's really that steep.


I got nearer the top and my options diminished. Greg had moved off into the forest to find an easier route around the face…a smart move since he was nursing a shoulder problem. 2/3 of the way up, I found myself boxed in. I never totally trusted my footing unless I found a sharp extrusion of stone or crack and my hands were nearly numb in from the seepage. A couple strong moves would have placed me on another set of comfortable holds, but I weighed the risk and conservatism won the moment…I decided to traverse to the right. This, unfortunately, tightened the noose on my options. Greg called from a distance (he was now moving back toward me through the woods), “You ok?”. Apparently, he hadn't heard my grumbling...“Yup, I’m fine,” I answered. My words weren’t exactly hollow, but I tried to blunt my frustration since I was stuck in place when he answered.

He poked his head out about that time and mentioned something about wishing he’d brought rope. A quick memory of Neil Luckhurst and I on the White Slide of Upper Wolf Jaw flashed through my mind and I smiled. I answered that I didn’t need one…that I was just firming up my stance, warming my hands and catching my breath. A few minutes later with numb hands, I carefully descended via knobs of hornblende (I think) to the next lower and slightly more level shelf. This led over to a deep crack in the face. Comfortable again, I followed the crack up left and then right to the top. We were about 3350 in elevation at this point, just 2.5 hours from the trailhead.

Just a note of warning...the face is tricky even with experience. I'm sure the mud will eventually wash free a bit more, but foot pressure on the surface will likely still loosen the sandy grains. It's steep enough that a slip could easily turn into a fast tumble down multiple ledge sets to the muddy bottom. I'm off my soapbox now.

Once in the shelter of the spruce with a soft blanket of moss underfoot, I focused on warming my hands in my armpits. Greg pointed out some nice destinations on nearby mountains. Another 15 minutes through the forest over moderate blowdown found us on the loosely knit summit of Wilmington eating a well-earned snack. It was a nice break with good company.

Over and Out
The ridge over to Cooper Kiln Pond was a pleasant trek just over mile in length. Loose forest and a moderately defined herd path led the way down the top of the ridge. A few open areas unveiled a view on occasion. Whiteface/Esther and Morgan were at the end of the ridge and a smattering of high peaks were in view beyond and to the left. We followed a heading of about 220 true until veering off toward the pond after a field of blowdown and one last view. The end of the ridgeline became less defined in contour and eventually led to the swampy seepage into the pond.

We arrived at the pond exactly opposite the lean-to and spent another 15 minutes circumnavigating the pond’s northern shore until we intersected the trail. A quick stop at the lean-to preceded our trek back down to the car. The eroded gully (trail) crossed and re-crossed Pettigrew Brook (the outlet of Cooper Kiln) several times; though Greg’s map showed it paralleling it with only a single crossing if my memory serves…This was the butt of several jokes.

The trail eventually reached the aforementioned 90 degree elbow next to the slide and within minutes we were retracing our steps back to the cars. We arrived about 6 pm, just 5 hours later.
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Last edited by mudrat; 01-17-2013 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:52 PM   #2
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Kevin,
Strangely enough, a couple of your pics were surprising to me—and I was there. The one across the wall with its striations was really cool.

I don't have much to add to Kevin's account. Of the slide in general: It was on a relatively small scale, but steep and dramatic at the top; perhaps the easiest to reach of any I have climbed. Halfway up the first slabs, I looked E and noticed my home mountain (Clark) looming in the foreground. How is it I had never seen the slide from Clark? So today I got a view of it, the one that appears first in Kevin's set. Anyway, it was a great little hike using a trail I hadn't trod before. The bushwhacking on Wilmington was easy and fairly open, with a fair amount of herd path. Thanks Kevin, that was a spontaneous and exciting trip!

Pics with action climbing shots:

https://picasaweb.google.com/curugroth/Wilmington
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Old 05-08-2012, 09:59 AM   #3
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Let's see if I have this right.
You ascended the brook that originates (on the map) between the 958 and 1064 meter summits, the latter being Wilmington itself. You followed a trib that was running NW to SE then hopped on the slab that ran upwards due west and you topped out fairly close to the 1064 meter summit of Wilmington. Is that correct? The slide is visible from which road(s)?
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
Let's see if I have this right.
You ascended the brook that originates (on the map) between the 958 and 1064 meter summits, the latter being Wilmington itself. You followed a trib that was running NW to SE then hopped on the slab that ran upwards due west and you topped out fairly close to the 1064 meter summit of Wilmington. Is that correct? The slide is visible from which road(s)?
It's easier than that: Follow the snowmobile trail toward Cooper Kiln Pond starting on Bonneyville Road. When you reach the sharp elbow where the trail turns S (there is a sign saying "Snowmobile Trail") Look N and you will see the run out in the brook bed below. It tops out right on the summit cone and very near the top.

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Old 05-08-2012, 10:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
Let's see if I have this right.
You ascended the brook that originates (on the map) between the 958 and 1064 meter summits, the latter being Wilmington itself. You followed a trib that was running NW to SE then hopped on the slab that ran upwards due west and you topped out fairly close to the 1064 meter summit of Wilmington. Is that correct? The slide is visible from which road(s)?
Yup. The brook originates from between those summits yes (there are a few tribs of the brook, the southernmost one being the miles long runout). 1054 meter peak is the high point of the range, Wilmington Peak by Spencer's book. The brook runs more from the WNW on average. The brook IS the runout and starts about 1800' in elevation leading to the slab. You should be able to see the slide from Hazelton Road just east of wilmington and I originally saw it from near Harkness (b/t Ausable Forks and Platssburg) if I'm not mistaken.

See here on my spot (which will only be up through next saturday) http://share.findmespot.com/shared/f...yT9nWc4ql2eUME
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Old 05-08-2012, 10:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregory Karl View Post
It's easier than that: Follow the snowmobile trail toward Cooper Kiln Pond starting on Bonneyville Road. When you reach the sharp elbow where the trail turns S (there is a sign saying "Snowmobile Trail") Look N and you will see the run out in the brook bed below. That's it.
It's more fun to make it complex .
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Old 05-08-2012, 02:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mudrat View Post
It's more fun to make it complex .
Perhaps, this explains everything now, moreover why we are there in the first place.
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Old 05-09-2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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MudRat never makes anything easy or simple if he can help it.
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Old 05-09-2012, 01:48 PM   #9
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MudRat never makes anything easy or simple if he can help it.
See thread #6 above. Besides, I was talking about Neil making more complex this time ...and talking about complex, I remember our convos about the slide sets on Dix' north flank. Took me awhile and several simple explanatory/visual aids to get a nod of understanding from you
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Old 08-14-2012, 08:23 PM   #10
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Thanks for the highly detailed report!

That slide looks amazing on the DEC web page!
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:18 AM   #11
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Thanks for the highly detailed report!

That slide looks amazing on the DEC web page!
Happy to oblige. FYI flashearth.com has updated imagery as well and is much easier to use than the DEC site.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:13 PM   #12
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Picture #24 in Greg's post provides a good idea of the steepest.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:17 PM   #13
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As usual very good report. Is there a slide you have not climbed in the
Dacks?
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:50 AM   #14
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As usual very good report. Is there a slide you have not climbed in the
Dacks?
Thank you, Sir! Pic #20 is pretty realistic too.

Well, I was gaining on the slides until Irene added to the collection . It's a nice way to relax and burn off stress.
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