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Wolfjaw Slides on Ice--UWJ Skinny Slide & Bennies Root Canal Slide

Posted by Kevin MacKenzie,
North Country explorer from
November 23, 2013

Duration: 10 hours
MapTech Total Mileage/Vertical Ascent: 12.5 Miles/5,200’
Route: Garden to Bennies Brook (2.4 miles), ascend slide, trail to LWJ summit. Descend Range Trail to Wolfjaws Trail. Follow drainage up to base of Skinny Slide. Bushwhack left to Range Trail, descend to Interior Outpost and Garden.
Benchmarks: Begin: 7:30 a.m., Top Bennies Root Canal: 11:30 a.m., Top Skinny Slide: 2:00 p.m., End: 5:30 p.m.
Trail Conditions: Wet, mud, ice, minimal snow. Mixed climbing on slides
Temperature: 25-35F
Partner: Azimuth (Ranger Scott van Laer)
Pack: 35 lbs. with belt pack. Other Equipment: Webbing, mixed ice tools, BD Sabertooth crampons, microspikes, Koflach Arctis mountaineering boots, extra layers and mitts.

Photo 1: Mosaic of various slide areas.
Photo 2: Seasonal comparison of 30' crevice on the Skinny Slide.
Photo 3: Ranger Scott van Laer on Bennies Root Canal Slide (Lower Wolfjaw).
Photo 4: Scott climbing a wall at the base of Upper Wolfjaw's Skinny Slide.
Photo 5: Kevin on the upper segment of the Skinny Slide (created in 2011 by TS Irene).

It’s been a month since I’ve been out banging around the backcountry. T'was high time to go do something exciting! Conditions were questionable, but I knew there had to be at least some decent ice at elevation. Scott and I conjured up an impromptu trip to Bennies Brook (Root Canal) Slide and threw in Upper Wolfjaw’s Skinny (not so skinny after Irene) Slide as a bonus. I can’t say either was in prime ice condition, but there was enough to keep it fun and interesting.

We left the Garden at 7:30 a.m. with little snow on the ground. The Southside Trail held a mixture of ice, running water and some mud. By the time we started up Bennies Brook ice and snow were a little more abundant. I needed only spikes up to the confluence of the tributaries. Scott bare-booted the entire way. The first run of ‘fun’ ice was at what is a near vertical chute of layered stone during the summer. By now the wind was blowing coldly up the slide.

Bennies Root Canal
We followed the thickest flows whenever possible...I hate sharpening crampons and axes. Some sections were barely covered in verglas and a more delicate touch was in order. Bennies is obviously one of the easier slides, but losing several hundred feet of elevation by falling down ice tiers would not leave you in a good state. A friend’s advice from long ago reverberated in my mind…”3 points of contact, maintain 3 points of contact!” The best lesson of the morning, however, was that I still needed to build my leg endurance for extended periods in the heavy mountaineering boots.

At the top of the slide I turned around to enjoy the spectacular view of the Brothers bathed in sunlight with a gentle snow falling on their slopes. The combination of light and moisture enunciated the soft morning colors.

Snow was still lacking once on the herdpath from the top of the slide though there was enough to capture the tracks of a snowshoe hare. We arrived at the summit around 11:45 a.m. and descended the icy path toward our next target on UWJ…one slide just wasn’t enough!

Full text & photographs http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/showthread.php?t=23281 or www.mackenziefamily.com/46/46r.html (Slides & Bushwhacks Page).


Erika Barthelmess

This is a great account of a neat trip. Thanks for sharing it!