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Trap Dike (summer)

4th, Trad, 2000 ft,  Avg: 3.7 from 70 votes
FA: Robert Clarke & Alexander Ralph -1850
New York > Adirondacks > E: High Peaks R… > Mt Colden


On a summer day in 1850, two workers from the McIntyre Iron Company (Now the Upper Works trailhead) set out to stand on top of the unclimbed Mt. Colden, an Adirondack High Peak named after an investor of the Iron Works. Since no trail existed, the pair started up the only weakness in the Mountain, a large dike on the west side that spilled into Avalanche Lake. They followed the dike up the mountain until the walls disappeared. They soon found themselves ascending an exposed slide into the unknown. A few hundred feet of scrambling lead to the summit. Later that night, the pair celebrated their first ascent by killing a deer and cooking it over a fire.

Relive their adventure by climbing the original (and still the best) route up the mountain. I wouldn't recommend cooking a deer over a fire afterwards though, I think the rangers would be pissed.

The route climbs the obvious dike over easy 3rd-4th class rock. The crux is a 30ft rock staircase next to a waterfall. As you climb higher in the dike, the walls will shrink until its possible to climb out right onto the slide. It is VERY important not to exit the dike at the first chance. The slide here is very steep with no gear. A few parties have made this mistake having no technical rock experience or clean underwear and needed to be rescued. Stay in the dike until the 2nd or 3rd exit. If you stay in the dike too long, you'll find yourself in a nasty bushwhack to traverse right onto the slide. You know you've exited at the right point if you traverse onto the slide right and see a slab dihedral. Follow the easy, exposed slide to the top.

Here is an excellent trip report containing photos and topos..…


The route is easy to locate, it's the huge dike in the side of the mountain, east side of Avalanche Lake.


I've heard of some people belaying for the waterfall section, but it's really not necessary. It's pretty much a rock staircase with huge hands and feet. Just don't fall.

You might want to avoid the route after heavy rainfall or in the spring. If there's a lot of water coming down, think twice. The two times I've done it, the water has only been a trickle.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Colvin on the old Colden Slab. This ascent, though less steep than the new slab is far less enjoyable to climb because it is dirtier and requires a much harder exit (especially for K9s). <br>
My recommendation, do both slabs, but choose the new slab if conditions are wet or rain threatens. Choose the old slab for the more challenging exit and a  little more slick slab climbing.  <br>
[Hide Photo] Colvin on the old Colden Slab. This ascent, though less steep than the new slab is far less enjoyable to climb because it is dirtier and requires a much harder exit (especially for K9s). My rec…
K9 (Colvin) being belayed up the crux headwall of the Colden Trap Dike. I've heard rumors people don't believe dogs have ever ascended the Trap Dike, this is at least the 2nd ascent, these photos should permanently put that to rest. <br>
Bear in mind it is a 4th class scramble, please note the safety measures employed: Full climbing harness and a anchored top rope belay.
[Hide Photo] K9 (Colvin) being belayed up the crux headwall of the Colden Trap Dike. I've heard rumors people don't believe dogs have ever ascended the Trap Dike, this is at least the 2nd ascent, these photos s…
jack high up on a wet day in the dike
[Hide Photo] jack high up on a wet day in the dike
Dike on the upper slab
[Hide Photo] Dike on the upper slab
Trap Dike Rock up close...check out those grains.
[Hide Photo] Trap Dike Rock up close...check out those grains.
The crew leading up to the class 4 section of the Trap Dike! One of the best hikes in the dacks!
[Hide Photo] The crew leading up to the class 4 section of the Trap Dike! One of the best hikes in the dacks!
Perspective ... looking down from Mt Algonquin summit 5,100 ft, the final "mud band" can be identified just before the top of the white slide.
[Hide Photo] Perspective ... looking down from Mt Algonquin summit 5,100 ft, the final "mud band" can be identified just before the top of the white slide.
Perspective .... Looking from the summit of Algonquin (5,100), Mt Marcy is in the top left...the white slide almost sparkled when the sun hit ...
[Hide Photo] Perspective .... Looking from the summit of Algonquin (5,100), Mt Marcy is in the top left...the white slide almost sparkled when the sun hit ...
Steve & Sheila on the slab. We took the lowest exit and used a 8mm rope to the tree-overlap about 1/2 way up.
[Hide Photo] Steve & Sheila on the slab. We took the lowest exit and used a 8mm rope to the tree-overlap about 1/2 way up.
An older woman (70) was  perhaps ill-prepared for the dike was stuck here at the crux waterfall for 20 min before being helped by our group. The spot is actually steeper than it looks. The waterfall can not be seen just left of the pic.
[Hide Photo] An older woman (70) was perhaps ill-prepared for the dike was stuck here at the crux waterfall for 20 min before being helped by our group. The spot is actually steeper than it looks. The waterfal…
Trees in Colden Dike - July 2005
[Hide Photo] Trees in Colden Dike - July 2005

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Fantastic route, makes for a great (but LONG) day in the mountains. About 13 miles total. If you have GPS or an altimeter, exit the dike around 3650-3700' to gain the upper slabs. Angle up and right until you can see the summit. Rock shoes are nice on the slab, especially if wet, but certainly not essential. Gear + rope would be overkill. Sep 20, 2009
Jay Piasecki
Keene Valley, NY
  Easy 5th
[Hide Comment] If you exit early, the route is easy 5th class with rock shoes recommended. Don't Fall! Apr 3, 2010
Jonathan Landolfe
Oregon City, OR
[Hide Comment] much fun. Exited right immediately after the second waterfall by the island of birch trees. Some fun 5th class. Spicy without climbing shoes, but not absolutely needed. I aimed for the islands of trees to take breaks from the exposure. Would not recommend without gear if damp. Jul 9, 2010
Auto-X Fil
NEPA and Upper Jay, NY
[Hide Comment] Incredible climb. The views, scrambling, and exposure are all excellent.

I highly recommend the 1990 slide on the other side of Colden for a descent. It makes for a real adventuresome day. May 25, 2011
Jaysen Henderson
Brooklyn NY
[Hide Comment] hopefully someone will post a winter version of the trap dike, im trying to gain some knowledge on the best time of season to go for it (avoiding avalanche) ive heard its a fantastic winter ascent Jul 15, 2011
Greg Kuchyt
Richmond, VT
[Hide Comment] Jaysen,

The Trap Dike

Regarding avalanche risk. Early and late season when it's not packed with snow are best. Consequently, that's when the climbing is best because you actually get to climb ice and not just slog through snow. That said, early and late season doesn't eliminate avalanche risk. It all depends on a myriad of factors.

There are times where a weather event will create a blanket "no go" for any avalanche terrain (or anything subject to the runout from that terrain). Rock and River runs an ice report on their website during the winter and is good about noting these periods. As well, NEIce will usually be abuzz and the DEC will note these periods as well. It's important to note though that the DEC does not do forecasting/observation like the snow rangers in the White Mountains in NH.

The best thing to do is to take the AIARE Level I course and it will cover the basics and give you a toolset to make more informed decisions. I believe the MountainFest in Keene Valley always offers an abbreviated Level I course and I know PetraCliffs in Burlington, VT runs a few full Level I courses in the winter. Jul 15, 2011
[Hide Comment] the dike is fine post-Irene. I'd be nervous if the upper slabs were wet. Sep 18, 2011
Matt Glue
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Climbed it today, exiting via the new slide. This was my first time doing it. Like the previous link said, all trees and other vegetation in the dike are gone. It was also chossy enough that we wished we'd brought helmets.

We kept looking for an exit out right but never saw something that looked enticing. Not sure if Irene changed that or if we didn't look hard enough (probably the latter).

We ended up exiting onto the new slide. There were a couple of ways to get up on it; both had one or more moves of easy 5th with real fall potential. Not too experienced in ADK slab grades but I suppose the top was 4th going on 5th. It steepens up in the last 100 feet or so. Nov 6, 2011
Jersey City, NJ
[Hide Comment] did this back in early October. Was my first time there so can't compare pre and post Irene. Only a couple of climbing moves required in the dike itself. Exited a fair ways up (not at the first exit point) on two diagonal cracks that brought me onto the slab. Irene may have changed to route enough to make earlier descriptions difficult to apply.
Brought my climbing shoes just in case, but never put them on. On the slabs toward the top, it gets a bit thoughtful at times.
left camp at Colden Dam around 7:30 and topped out on Colden around 9:45. Chilled out for about an hour on the top to recover, eat and relax then descended and then hiked to the top of Marcy on the same day. (a long, but memorable day)

Does anyone know if there any way to exit at the top without climbing over the bushes? I looked for an opening, but never found it. Jan 17, 2012
[Hide Comment] Like many of the backcountry slides, this one was changed considerably by Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011. In addition to the devastating floods that hit the region, the landscape of the backcountry was significantly changed, including the west face of Mt. Colden. A new slide was created that extends from the top of the Trap Dike to the summit of Mt. Colden. The debris scoured the dike, stripping it clean of vegetation and dumping the resultant slurry into a debris cone that extends halfway across Avalanche Lake. Not only did this create a new (and most excellent) slide climb, but it improved the exposed alpine feel of the dike itself, making this modest scramble feel like a "big mountain" route.

Enter the dike as normal and climb past the second waterfall (crux). The easiest climbing is in the water. There are no longer any trees, so if you need a rope, you'll also need gear to establish anchors. Above this, the walls of the dike are now totally visible and obvious, and you can easily find the traditional place to exit the dike onto the Colden Slide to the right. For the new slide, continue up the dike to its top where a clean, white slide enters on the right. The rock is beautiful, white, dimpled, and awesome, if not a little sandy on the feet. Unlike the Colden Slide, this new slide is unbroken—-no tree islands or other features; imagine an endless parking lot tipped on an incline. There are three bulges where care is needed, the steepest at the very top. From there, walk 40' up to the trail, then 100' right to the summit.

For the Colden Slide, if you aim properly, you can climb directly to the perched boulder on the summit, so no bashing through bushes is necessary. The new 2011 slide ends 40' shy of the trail, so there's a minimal bushwhack at the top. Because of the scouring of the dike and complete absence of vegetation, the only bushwhack you'll encounter is going around the south end of Avalanche Lake to reach the dike itself.

Both slides can be 3rd classed by competent climbers in approach shoes (with sticky rubber); no rope or gear necessary. It can easily be done in a casual day from the car. Jun 11, 2012
Mike McLean
[Hide Comment] I just read a report that there is now apparently 'a bolt and piece of climbing line at the crux' ... Jul 21, 2012
[Hide Comment] The above comment was posted here:…

This feature was hiked/scrambled in 1850 with no such aids. Unless it's some sort of official rescue thing, I hope it gets removed ASAP. Jul 25, 2012
[Hide Comment] In reading that thread Jim, it sounds as though the object in question may actually be a pin with some tat rather than a bolt and fixed line. Still not necessary, but more easily remedied than a bolt and fixed line... Jul 26, 2012
San Pedro, California
[Hide Comment] climbed on 7-22. there is a piton with webbing at the crux on the right side of the bolt no rope. reading the thread the guy clearly has no idea what a bolt looks like or what rope is. i will give him credit for making it up though. Aug 8, 2012
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Climbed this 7/16/13 via the new 2011 slide at the top, which is highly recommended. Climbing shoes might be nice if you don't own approach shoes with sticky rubber. No more gear/pitons at the crux, just 20 feet or so of easy but steep steps next to the waterfall. A great 4-8 hour day from the Adirondack Loj trailhead, depending on how fast you are moving. I can't recommend this climb enough!! Jul 20, 2013
[Hide Comment] Be ready for a long day if you are starting from the LOJ. It will take 3 hours speeding, and more likely 4 hours of hiking just to get to the base of the Trap Dike. The surrounding setting is stunning, captivating and has amazing towering climbable walls along the way.
I under-rated the length the dike (goes way past the waterfalls composed of mostly easy scrambling)and also the length of the "new white slide" above it. By the end of the end of the slide I felt an Everest climber having to pause regularly. Between the dike and the new white slide there is 1,600 vertical ft of climbing to get to the top of Colden. The return trip total from the LOJ was a tiring 3500 vertical feet, and how many miles ?
I tend to be overly cautious so ....our party used one short roped belay for the 50 feet of the upper waterfall. It isn't that hard but ....its often wet and there was a group just above us with potential of loose rocks coming down from above.(See pic of stuck older woman). A fall along this section could be very ugly.

The new white slide rock would benefit greatly by wearing sticky rubber and of late Sep 2013 there was a 10 foot wide "mud band" at the base of the final bulge which I tried, but found very slippery. It appears that climbing shoes make good mini skis on slick mud. I tend to over-caution so I went to the right side of the base of the final bulge where there is a crude trail up, which by-passes the mud band before rejoining the final bit of the slide. For curiosity I took a look on both sides of the slide but found only super dense vegetation. If there were any trails through the trees going up to bail out on, I didn't see them. After the exit at the top you can go right to go down a steep trail to get back to Avalanche pass, or turn left to Lake Arnold. When hiking back expect another 3-4 hours to return to the LOJ ..... Sep 29, 2013
Logan Schiff
Brooklyn, NY
[Hide Comment] My wife and I did this at a steady but reasonably slow pace this weekend from the South Meadows, which adds about one mile round trip compared to leaving from the Loj. It took us about 9.5 hours round trip. I can't see doing it in much less than 7.5-8 hours without really hurrying.

I thought it was a fantastic hike though would be very heady and potentially dangerous for a non-climber. The waterfall was pretty easy even with hiking boots as long as you pay attention for the occasional bit of loose rock.

We did the new slide. It was very fun, but I wished I had brought approach shoes. Perhaps we started the slide in the wrong spot because I found one of the early bulges to be quite scary in hiking boots. The mud band was still there at the top as of 10/13/13. I hiked/climbed through it on all fours but almost slipped at one point at one point. The last bulge has some good holds so once you get past the mud it's not bad. The slab above this part, while low angle, was a bit wet even though it hadn't rained in days adding yet more excitement.

Overall a spectacular day but make sure to plan accordingly and probably not a good idea for non-climbers without a rope. Oct 14, 2013
J. Serpico
Saratoga County, NY
[Hide Comment] There is no bolt, it's a lost arrow piton. It's solid, looks good and is recent. I've clipped it belaying my dog. Is it necessary? No. You could bring some small cams for the same purpose. I have no issue with it, but then I've used it to my benefit.

As far as how hard it is. Though there were rumors that dogs couldn't climb it, I've climbed it with both my dogs over a 13 year span. One climbed like a goat (mantles, chimney moves, etc) the other (current dog) not so well. In both cases minimal assistance was needed. However, I do not recommend bringing a dog. Most dogs are poorly trained and will be a safety hazard for other climbers. However, most people are poorly trained and are a safety hazard to other people.

I recommend the new slide if it's wet or rain threatens. It's also the easier (more straigh forward exit). The rock is coarse, dimpled and clean. It's steeper than the old slide, but with better grip, perhaps less stressful because of the grippy nature.

The old slide has lichen, tree islands, and mud/grass islands. It requires a bit more route finding to exit. Once on it it is straight forward and relatively low angle. It's only 2nd class and more interesting because of the occasional overlap.

I've never climbed either slide in climbing shoes, but I do recommend snugger fitting sticky rubber approach shoes. This will make your day more enjoyable. Mar 12, 2014
Sean Sullivan
Boise, ID
[Hide Comment] Do this hike! My buddy and I did this September 27, 2014. He's not really a climber so we brought a skinny 60 m rope and some gear, but we never ended up using it. Like everyone's been saying, the climbing is easy. The 4th class waterfall has maybe eight feet of climbing that approaches technical and one airy move where a fall would be really bad. Just be aware and you'll be okay. The exit for the new slide is super obvious and the slab goes on forever; it reminded me of the upper pitches of Stately Pleasure Dome in Tuolumne dome. I wore approach shoes and was happy to have the extra grip. The muddy section on the final headwall was unnerving, but not terrible.

My only regret on this hike is that we didn't approach the dike via Algonquin Peak. Had we gone this way, we would have gotten nice views of the slide, added some elevation (but not really any more mileage), and avoided the slog around Avalanche Lake. Next time! Oct 4, 2014
[Hide Comment] That anchor is used for rescues. Jun 22, 2015
Dom R
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Classic scrambling, the hardest part is fighting the burn in your thighs up the slide. I did this in pretty dry conditions so that muddy section at the base of the final bulge on the new slide was just dry dirt for the most part, an easy path up the bulge follows a small ramp like feature behind a block on the left end, it was covered in dirt that got stuck on peoples shoes and it still climbed very easily in my approach shoes. Sep 7, 2015
[Hide Comment] Fantastic day!

I imagine that many might be on the fence regarding whether to bring the rope ... the climb is solidly fourth class at the second waterfall; a fall could have (and, by online reports, tragically has had) severe consequences. My partner and I debated a bit but also came to the conclusion that there are parts on the 'new' Hurricane Irene slide where, if one were to fall, one would fall quite a ways. Places for gear on this slide can be spaced and marginal at times but do exist.

Regarding footwear on the 'new' slide, I was very happy in approach shoes; at no point did I desire climbing shoes. My partner was slightly less happy in sneakers but not unhappy enough to consider the suffering involved in donning the climbing shoes he kept in his pack. Sep 23, 2015
[Hide Comment] Possibly a typical "roping up" story ?
While on the new white slide, a partner said she would be more comfortable, and would enjoy herself more, with a rope ... the beginning of "new" white slide has small sections of 5.1 which can be unnerving to many.
I prepared my belay, was readying to throw down the rope, when she appeared beside me saying .... " A little scary but not too bad" ... and continued to the top without any problems. Jun 15, 2016
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.3 PG13
[Hide Comment] I always used to take what was just about the first possible exit right onto the slabs, which are a bit steeper this low. I would bring 50m of "twin rope", 3 cams and 3 slings for trees. (that's why I give the climb a 5.2 - 5.3). This was shortly above the steep section in the dike.

Does anybody know if that "exit" is still "do-able" as an easy scramble? Jun 23, 2016
[Hide Comment] We did trap dike (LOJ-Avalanche-TP-Colden-LOJ) last week. Took 7.5 hours hiking + 30 min lunch at the summit of Colden, at what I consider to be a fast pace. We went to the top of the waterfall and then up the new slide.

We took our 28-lb mini Australian shepherd and he was fine, although I agree with a previous commenter and wouldn't recommend it for most dogs. A few suggestions if you're thinking about taking your dog:
  • Make sure they are physically ready (e.g. they hike regularly and have climbed mountains like Marcy, Washington (up Huntington Ravine), etc without difficulty
  • They should be calm and responsive under voice control as there will be sections where you'll want to climb ahead and they must wait until you are in a position to securely belay them (if they don't listen and try to follow you, it could threaten both of your lives)
  • Bring a proper strength-rated climbing harness for them, like Ruffwear's Doubleback
  • Bring rope (30 foot sufficed for us) and a couple of locking carabiners
  • Make sure you have enough confidence, experience and margin of error on a Class 4 climb that you can assure your and your dog's safety

I brought an ATC but since my pup is light I didn't need to use it, I just pulled him up the few sections of the waterfalls where he needed help. He didn't need help up the slide, but I wore my harness and kept us roped together until the summit just in case. Sep 5, 2016
Evan Glessner
San Francisco, CA
[Hide Comment] I'm fired up on Trap Dike. This is an awesome scramble. The trail to Avalanche Lake was closed so we approached it via Algonquin. If you're looking to add some elevation, I highly recommend this route, you'll have a great view of Colden. We climbed the dike after two days of pretty heavy rainfall, the waterfalls were pumping, it was great. The rock was wet at parts but didn't pose any significant problems for us. The second, steeper waterfall section was exposed and solidly 4th class. We didn't rope up, but definitely do if it feels sketchy because falling would be consequential. The final slab is grippy and a quality calf-burner, quite similar to the top of Snake Dike on Half Dome. The turn out for the slab is pretty obvious. I'd highly recommend approach shoes. Aug 25, 2017
[Hide Comment] I've done the dike a couple of times, years ago and before the most-recent slides. I am considering taking my wife and young son up it--and I intend to belay both of them through the waterfall section--and possibly up the slab itself. Wondering about the bolts I've seen at the top of the waterfall section...which I'd likely belay off. Has anyone roped up to climb this route--or part of it? Wondering about distance from start to the bolts? Apr 26, 2018