Adirondack Outdoors Winter 2015 Issue : Page 41

Mike Tomaselli climbs the True North Slide of Gothics. Map and photos showing Gothics North Face Route. Photos by both NP Photography and Kevin MacKenzie. All photos by author unless otherwise noted. It wasn’t long before we were at the same position and, at 1:50 p.m., we reached the summit. It was mild enough so that I was able to recline shirtless against my pack and enjoy the 360-degree view. How often can one do that in the winter?! I felt like I was on a white sandy beach, only the sand was snow. A stellar view of Giant Mountain to the east brought me back to reality. Bluebird days like this em-body the perfect winter hike. Layers carried for inclement weather remain packed and core temperatures are easy to regulate. Even photographs are easy to take without wind, snow or ice causing problems. Savor such days if you experi-ence them for there is another side to the coin. Challenging Winter’s Fury An article by Billy Burg-er in the March 1, 1945, is-sue of the Record-post cites Verplanck Colvin’s eloquent description of Gothics in the purple language of the day, “Before us an irregular cone of granite, capped with ice and snow, arose against a wintry sky. The dwarf timber crept timidly upward upon it in a few places, not too steep to fi nd a foothold, and on either side the icy slopes leaped at once down into gloomy valleys. Beyond, irregularly grouped, the great peaks, grizzly with frost and snow—were gath-ered in grand magnificence, all strange and new—in wild sublimity. No sound save the shuddering hiss of the chilly blast as it swept over the fear-ful ridge of ice that must now be our pathway.” The account continues, “the glary slopes of ice on ei-ther side, descending a thou-sand feet or more threatened death as the penalty for a sin-gle slip.” I recalled several of these phrases as I walked up the drainage of Gothics’ North Face during January of 2014. My friend, NP, and I had each broken through the semi-frozen stream by the time we reached the fi rst ice-entombed slabs below the great face. Gaiters, waterproof boots and snappy refl exes kept us from becoming wet; a potentially dangerous situation in 10F temperatures with 30 mile per hour winds. The weather conditions were “full-on” as we climbed the drainage toward our target route—the New Finger Slide. Strong gusts whipped the snow wildly past. This would only get worse over the next several hours. I felt completely in my element; I was having a blast! In fact, it reminded me of a climb up Gothics’ West Face a year prior. Reflexively, I gawked when we arrived at the North Face (its true aspect is really northwest). A 1,000 foot high, quarter mile wide expanse of anorthosite rock in the middle of the wilderness tends to be impressive and never ceases to amaze me. Obscured views from the driving snow lent an oppressive and eerie feel to our outing. Strange as it may seem, this is why we came— to battle the elements and take on a challenge. We sat to catch our breath half-way across the traverse of the base. Frozen lichen and moss, spotty areas of thin ice and small areas of névé sur-rounded by oceans of bare stone characterized the ma-jority of the slab. The New Finger Slide along the right-hand side was in fi ne condi-tion for climbing. Our ascent began with an easy climb up a snow ramp. Higher up, the footing be-came more precarious as we 41 ADIRONDACKOUTDOORSMAGAZINE.COM

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