What’s the best slide climb in the Adirondacks?
Many people say it’s the Eagle Slide in the west cirque of Giant Mountain. If you look at the cirque from the Ausable Club, the slide resembles an eagle with its wings outstretched.
The guidebook Adirondack Rock gives the Eagle five stars, its highest rating for the overall climbing experience. It offers 1,300 feet of open rock, with ever-expanding views of the High Peaks.
In the Yosemite Decimal System, the Eagle is a fourth-class climb. Wikipedia defines a fourth-class climb as follows: “Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.”
So an ascent of the Eagle should not be undertaken lightly. I’ve climbed it in hiking boots and in rock-climbing shoes. I recommend the latter.
Is the Eagle better than the Trap Dike, another fourth-class route that rates five stars? That’s a tough question that’s best evaded: although the Trap Dike climb finishes on a slide on the northwest side of Mount Colden, the dike itself is not a slide. So it’s in a different category.
Most of the popular slides in the Adirondacks are third-class climbs. Wikipedia defines third class as: “Scrambling with increased exposure. A rope can be carried but is usually not required. Falls are not always fatal.”
I suspect one reason the Eagle Slide has a five-star rating is precisely that it’s more dangerous and therefore more exciting. If you’re new to slide climbing, you’d be smart to start off on something easier. Some of my favorites are the slides on Dix, Nippletop, and Whiteface (bearing in mind that a fall in the wrong spot on any slide can have consequences). If there are any slide aficianados reading this, what are your suggestions?
By the way, I can attest to the perils of the Eagle. A few months ago, I slipped on a steep section and started sliding down the rock. Fortunately, a ledge prevented me from tumbling to the bottom (I landed standing up). The rock scraped the skin off most of my fingertips, but I was able to continue climbing.
I wrote an article about this trip for the November/December issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Accompanying me were the photographer Carl Heilman II and Eli Bickford, a twelve-year-old kid with a passion for slide climbing.
Carl took some spectacular photos. We used one of them for our cover. He also shot two short videos: one of me climbing, the other of Eli expounding on the allure of slide climbing.
You can find the story and videos on our website by clicking here.
Photo: Carl Heilman on the approach to the Eagle Slide, by Phil Brown.
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer.