Sunday, September 22, 2013


During a string of gorgeous fall-like days, I undertook a morning bushwhack to the lower open part of an old slide in Franconia Notch on the steep western flank of Mt. Lafayette. This slide area fell in 1948 and again in 1959, both times burying the road through the Notch. Photos taken right after the slides fell show an amazing swath of destruction on the mountainside. It took crews days to open the road after each slide. Luckily, no one was injured by the slides.

After weaving up through the woods for a while, I came across an old secondary track of the slide.

Continuing up and across the steep slope, I came upon part of the main slide track. I saw a couple of footprints here, and as it turned out, inveterate explorer/photographer Chris Whiton had been up here two days before.

Here there was a great view of the Cannon cliffs and talus slopes.

Steep and slidey terrain.

The Black Dike and Whitney-Gilman Ridge.

Climbers making their way up the big wall.

Looking north through the Notch over Profile and Echo Lakes, with Vermont on the horizon.

Echo Lake, Bald Mountain and Artist's Bluff.

I climbed a little farther up the slide, but didn't have time to get to its upper reaches.

This mini-branch of the slide was too wet and greasy to climb.

I worked my way down to a spectacular ledge perch above the precipitous lower part of the slide.

Room enough to kick back and gaze at the Cannon Cliffs, front and center.

A wider shot, with South Kinsman on the far L.

From another perch higher on the slide, a look up at Eagle Cliff to the north.

Summit of Eagle Cliff.

Before heading home, I paid a brief visit to Profile Lake.

The slide seen from the shore of Profile Lake. Much of it has been revegetated over the last half-century. Who knows when/if it will slide again?


  1. That looks like a great spot Steve. I can't exactly where this one is from your photo. But I've been eyeing a couple spots in the notch lately. This is most likely one of of them. I'm often looking for something relatively short for Sunday mornings before heading home. These shorter whacks in Franconia Notch work perfect.

    Thanks fro sharing,

    1. Thanks, Joe. This old slide is almost directly across from the climber's parking area at the south end of Profile Lake. Looks like there are some nice perches higher up than I went.


  2. Great report on yet another area that I didn't know existed, Steve. Looks like a great area to do some exploring. I first rode through Franconia Notch as a kid in 1969 or 1970, and I have a vivid recollection of looking out the right window and seeing a huge and very steep scree field, such as you would see at the bottom of a rockslide, coming almost all the way to the road. I was very impressed by it. I didn't go back for many years, but I have since driven through the notch many times as an adult, and I've often looked for the spot where I saw that view, to no avail. I attributed this to a faulty memory, even though I can still picture it in my mind to this day. Could it be that the bottom of the slide was still visible from the road at that time, but has since revegetated? It would have been 10 or so years after the second slide that you mention. And I'm not even sure if today's Parkway is in the same location as the road that went through the notch in 1970. My recollection is that maybe the road was just a little to the east of today's road, closer to the steep slopes on Lafayette.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, BC. I would be inclined to think that you could still see a large part of the 1959 slide a decade later. Most of that lower part has revegetated over the last 40 years. I remember the old road through the notch, but can't picture its exact course in that area.