Lying on the southeastern face of Wright the Airplane Slide sits an old rocky scar jutting into the mountain littered with debris from a crashed military bomber - Airplane Slide's namesake. Based on the name alone, many would presume the fatal crash created the slide, but this is not the case. The plane actually crashed quite close to the summit, and there is a plaque commemorating it accessible to hikers just a quick walk from the top. In fact one can find debris from the bomber that flew over the summit of the mountain and littered the slide and the col between Wright and its bigger brother Algonquin with metal debris.
After an early wake up and a couple hours of on trail hiking, we began bushwacking up the much shallower and narrower Irene Slide. This slide was created by the torrential rainfalls that fell on much of the Adirondacks from Hurricane Irene in 2011. It follows its way down the col between Algonquin and Wright, and has a small stream flowing through the exposed rocks and boulders. Now that we were out in the sun, it was quickly becoming a hot day, with the sun's burning intensity. And so after considerable debate we convinced Barry to let the group take a short rest to immerse in the freezing mountain water. It quickly cooled us off and we collectively built up the courage to dunk our heads into the frigid brook. After putting our boots back on we continued hiking though, as we had not yet arrived at the base of the slide.
After veering off the Irene slide at a miniscule cairn, and a short bushwack, we finally reached the base of the Airplane Slide. We took a much deserved rest to recharge our legs and eat some chex mix, all while Barry took a few people on a short scavenger hunt for pieces of the plane wreckage. With a bit of searching we found some of the old rusty and mossy pieces of airplane, although the pieces we found were quite small. Deep in the wilderness, the debris showed how quickly nature reclaims anything man made. Moss had grown over the disintegrating metal, and it was almost unrecognizable from the forest around us. Soon enough though, we were off again, although this time the summit was in sight. Just another thousand feet or so.
The Airplane Slide is not the tallest, steepest, nor longest in the Adirondacks, but it was definitely not easy either. It was still a straight shot up the exposed slide, with the bright blue sky and hot sun of a typical Adirondack day surrounding us. We zig zagged up the rocky face, occasionally stopping to rest and for Adam to take some photos of us (Thanks Adam!). Barry also pointed out the stunning views of Colden and the picturesque view of the trap dike.
Once we had reached the top of the slide, we still had two more considerable pieces of the climb. One was the headwall, a steep diagonal wall of rock at the beginning of the slide, which we needed to navigate to continue onwards. After trying a few locations we found a promising method in which we climbed up a shorter part of the wall using some small and hardy alpine trees to stabilize ourselves, and then continued walking up the shallower part of the headwall. The summit was so close we could taste it, but first we had to bushwack up through the stubby and sharp alpine plants hardened from the severe Adirondack winters. This caused painfully slow travel, but finally we managed to reach the summit.
Once we finally got to the top, we were rewarded with an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, and ate a satisfying lunch of sun butter and jelly. Being the first large climb of the summer and only the second week of camp, the Airplane Slide was a promising beginning to a summer that would be full of adventures (and missing spaghetti Saturday).
By Alex Olhava and Alice Cannon