Friday, January 14, 2022

NW Slides, Scar Ridge: 1/13/22


Enjoyed excellent snowshoeing on a bushwhack up the big valley between Scar Ridge and Black Mountain, with visits to the lower parts of the two long NW slides of Scar. Walked a mile up Loon XC trails (not open for skiing yet this season), then strapped on the snowshoes for the long whack. Not too far in I came across this creepy abandoned makeshift shelter.


Home sweet home?

Good snowshoe conditions with 8-10" of dense powder.

This huge boulder is a prominent landmark in the valley.


Lots of hardwood forest on this route.

Traversing one of my all-time favorite glades, deep in the valley.

The nameless brook that drains this expansive basin.


This looked like the track of an old tote road, perhaps dating back to the J.E. Henry era.

The meeting of two streams. The brook draining from the slides is at the top, the one coming down from the Scar Ridge/Loon col is at the bottom.

A foot of snow out here - glad I put the tails on the MSRs.


Pushing through the hobblebush.

A good workout!

Old hardwoods in a glade approaching the base of the slides.


Heading up the track of the eastern slide.

Reaching the open part of the slide.

A long swath that extends far up the mountainside. Two winters ago, in early March, I snowshoed 2/3 of the way up. On this mid-January day, the slide was not "in" enough - the snow cover was thin in places atop the ice and there were hollow-sounding spots.


Even after the recent cold weather, there was some open flowing water.


Not far up the slide, I turned around, as it looked like more of the same ahead - not enough snow cover atop the ice. I sat on my pack for a while - temps were in the comfortable high 20s - to have a late lunch and take in the scene.

Looking back at Black Mountain, the eastern neighbor of Loon Mountain.

Wild crags on the south ridge of Black.


Heading back down a bypass around a steep ledge step/cascade.


Someday I would like to whack to the top of this cliff on a northern spur of Scar Ridge. It would offer a close-up view of the slides, but the approach looks steep and likely very thick.

It was getting on towards mid-afternoon, but there was still time to pay a visit to the western Scar Ridge slide. I cut across to its base and headed up its track under this archway.

After a steep bypass through the brush, I emerged on the open part of the western slide, which had better snow coverage than its eastern counterpart.

Cool ledges lining the slide.

This formation is one of the most interesting I've seen on any slide: steep scalloped ledges overlooking a pool, with a slab ramp on the left.

A different look in summer.

I tested the snow on the ramp to the left and it was deep and firm enough to make good steps without slipping on the ice beneath.


There's a narrow passage at the top to the left of the icefall.


Close-up of the icefall.

Topping out on this pitch, there's a long view up the slide.

And views back to the north, into the Pemi Wilderness, begin to open up. The high peaks were socked in, but Owl's Head could be faintly seen in the distance, emerging from the fog.


A bit farther up I reached my turnaround point - it was 3:00 pm and time to head for home.

From here the upper ice flows of the slide were in view.

These ice flows are a climb known as "Long Way Home," which was briefly described in An Ice Climber's Guide to Northern New England, by Rick Wilcox; the 3rd edition is available in limited quantities at International Mountain Equipment:

Good view of Black Mountain here.

Heading down.

The scalloped ledge formation, with tracks.

Pure winter beauty.


  1. Love that shot of the Pemi Wilderness from the western slide.

    1. Hi Steve, That is a unique perspective. In March 2020 I had a gorgeous view from that spot.