Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Miners Peak

Trailhead view of our objective
Last week John Platt had sent me a great picture of a big snowfield on Pollack Mountain and all I could do during the week was dream of skiing it.  But due to all the snow, we couldn't get to the trailhead - bummer.

The alternative plan was to climb to a lookout on Miners Peak, deep in the South Fork of the Salmon River mountains.  Though it looked like a big day, I talked Dan into joining us for a little training hike.  We left Boise at a little after 6 and met up with John and Julie Platt at the turn off to Warm Lake right at 8AM.  Once they climbed into the truck, we took off for the winding hour long drive to the trailhead at Reed Ranch.  We were on our feet and moving at 9:30 in fabulous conditions.

You can just make out the lookout on the right
The hike started at roughly 4000 feet, and after crossing the river we followed an ATV trail for the first mile.

Tamara heading out with snowshoes on her back

Crossing the South Fork of the Salmon
Once beyond the ATV trail we turned up on a well marked trail.  Someone had recently ridden the trail on a motorcycle and cut away the deadfall that had fallen across the path.  Unlike the "trail" to White Rock Peak in the same area ( http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2014/03/white-rock-peak.html ), this was a welcome relief.

The trail stayed on the south side of the ridge keeping it snow free for the first 1500 feet.  We made reasonably good time even though we did stop for a couple of union breaks along the way to remove layers and have a bite to eat.  Once we reached 6000 feet we hit constant snow and were surprised to find it holding our weight even though it was relatively warm.  Unfortunately, this didn't last too long so we strapped on the snowshoes and continued upward.

Tamara all smiles in her new shell
The trail meandered through the trees not allowing us to see our objective until we were about 1500 feet from the summit.  You can just make it out on the photo below.

Getting closer

John contemplating the route to the top
For the most part we followed a well worn trail and an obvious ridge as we moved up.  We eventually came to a small bowl where you could just make out the trail cutting across it.  Since I was leading at this point, I decided to not follow the longer trail but rather headed up a steeper ridge with several large boulders.  As the route turned steeper still, John had caught up and he moved forward, up and over a small cornice to the summit ridge.

Heading up the steeper section

John leading us over the summit ridge.

The final 50 yards
Upon reaching the lookout, we searched in vain for a spot out of the wind to have lunch. We settled on a spot only slightly out of the wind, but in the sun, on the rocks seen below.  We spent close to an hour here - talking, eating and lounging in the sun.  But with the clock ticking  - it was 3PM after all - we loaded up and started back down.

Other than the snow becoming slushy and making the decent of the steeper sections a little slippery, the trip down was long and uneventful.  We finally arrived back at the truck around 5:30PM and were all a little beat from the great day.
Dropping off the summit ridge

Mileage - Approximately 12
Elevation - Approximately 4000 feet
Car to Car Time - 8 hours

Monday, April 7, 2014

24th Wedding Anniversity

Today is Tamara and my 24th wedding anniversary (woot woot!) and in keeping with the theme this year we thought we'd celebrate it with an outing.  The plan was a Saturday Copper Mountain BC ski followed by a night at the Sun Valley Lodge and skiing Baldy on Sunday.

As we approached Banner Summit Saturday morning we were greeted with an intense snow squall that seemed to drop a couple of inches of snow in a 15 minute span.  But as we parked in a surprising empty turn out the snow had stopped, allowing us to prepare at our leisure.

We progressed uphill in 3" of fresh powder, anticipating first tracks on the south face.  The weather alternated between snow and sunshine - a typical Idaho spring day!

The views from up high were great and the sun stayed hidden behind the clouds long enough to maintain the snow quality.

The turns were excellent and we did indeed get first tracks.

The sun finally showed itself for good during lunch.

With the sun, came the crowds.  As we started up for our second lap we were joined by 8, yes 8, other people!  But despite the crowds we did get in that second lap which was almost as good as the first.

After a bit of bushwacking on the way down, we were on our way to Sun Valley.

We had a great meal at Il Naso, in Ketchum, with some celebratory wine, followed by a great night's sleep in the lodge.  We both complained a bit about our legs being sore Sunday morning, but there was no need to put on skins and hike uphill as the gondola awaited us at River Run.

The weather Sunday was sunny with a stiff breeze blowing, but the skiing up high provided excellent spring conditions.  The skiing down low offered an assortment of mashed root vegetables - make your own choice.

Considering the bare hills on the south facing slopes the coverage was surprisingly good, as were the turns.

The views of the Pioneers were also fantastic!

We spent the better part of the day trying to ski all the runs at Baldy and put in a pretty good effort.  But by 3PM we called it quits and headed in to Hailey for a late lunch before heading home.

A great way to spend the weekend with the love of your life and I sure hope the next 24 years will be as good as the first 24!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Peak 8562

Peak 8562
I hadn't been out with Dan since our Jerry Peak outing the end of December.  He emailed me with a few ideas and I was up for getting out but was hoping to limit windshield time and get home at a decent hour.  With this in mind we settled on an obscure peak in the Smoky Mountains north of Fairfield – Peak 8562.

Dan, Shadow and I hit the hill outside of Cherry Creek at 8:30AM sans snowshoes.  It was a bit chilly at first, so the heat we generated as we climbed the steep sagebrush hill was welcome.  As we progressed upward toward the sunshine we entered the moonscape that was the terrain after the Beaver Creek fire. 

Dan heading up the ridge
We made quick time in gaining the first 1100 feet to reach point 6788 and could finally see our objective, Peak 8562, a few miles away.  From here we followed the wide undulating “ridge” to the base of the peak alternating between solid snow and burned ground.  With the charred surface, the going was relatively easy since we didn't have to watch our feet as we walked and chatted in the bright sunshine.  All this time, Buttercup Mountain was looming on our left.  I was drooling, wanting to climb it, but without an ice ax today wasn't going to be the day.  Maybe I’ll head that way in a couple of weeks.

Buttercup Mountain
After four miles we reached the base of the peak and all that remained was the short 600 foot gain to the summit.   As we grunted up this section a cold breeze from the north started picking up.  The GPS read 11:45 and 5.25 miles.

The views from the summit were excellent.  The Pioneers really stood out to the east as did the burned our drainages that surrounded us.  The previous weeks hike up Newman Peak had us on the northern edge of the Beaver Creek fire; here we were on the southern edge close to 20 miles away.
Currant Gulch
The view back to the truck 
No sign of human occupation
We huddled behind the summit cairn out of the wind for a quick lunch before dropping of the north side to make a small loop out of the trip.  The descent path we chose provided some excellent views showing the destruction a large fire does to both the trees and land.

Dan making his way slowly down to Cherry Creek.  I glissaded the snow to the right.
Burned and blown out Cherry Creek
We arrived back at the truck a little after 2:30 in good shape and headed to Fairfield where the burgers at the Wrangler were excellent!  

Total distance was a little shy of 10 miles with over 3100 feet elevation gain.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Newman Peak

Close up of the summit with Newman Peak on the left
Last Saturday morning John Platt, Dave Pahlas (Super Dave) and I found ourselves on the road to Ketchum for a winter attempt at Newman Peak,elevation 10,171 feet.  These plans came together quickly earlier in the week (after 20 emails between us!) with Newman Peak being on Dave's wish list.  One of these days I'll need to get a wish list together...
The plan was to access the peak from the northeast ridge, a route that I was told could be a bit iffy.  With the high avalanche danger over and the sun shining it looked like it was going to be a great day for an adventure.

Snow blowing off the summit of Boulder Mountain
We left the truck and hit the hard pack snow in our boots at 9:30AM.  The sun was shining and the wind was blowing a bit from the northwest as we looked over our proposed route.

Our peak's back there somewhere
Come to find out later (from Dave via Matt Leidecker) the ridge we travelled on was a proposed ski area at one time.  If you look at the picture above you can see where a proposed ski lift was cut through the trees.

After the first thousand feet, we started post holing a bit so it was on with the snowshoes and the gradual uphill battle continued.

Contemplating the beautiful day (D. Pahlas photo)

We traded leading and were averaging a little over 1000 feet per hour, which seemed a bit slow for our normal pace.  It must have been to all the gawking that was occurring due to the views of the Boulders.  A little after 12:30 we made Newman's Nose at 9,897 feet, and our objective finally came into view.  From this distance it was hard to tell if there would be a route from our approach.

Newman Peak on the left
John hadn't been feeling too good on the ascent so we found a place in the sunshine and out of the wind for a leisurely lunch break. 

John waxing philosophically
After our sumptuous lunch John decided he was feeling good enough to continue on, so we started the gradual uphill jaunt again.

John approaching point 10,016

Dave on point 10,016 sizing up our objective
Once we reached the next high point at 10,016 feet John decided he'd had enough, so after agreeing on a 4PM turn around, we parted ways.  Dave and I were eager to get closer since it still wasn't clear that there was a safe path to the peak.  We continued on a bit, dropping down a couple of hundred feet, all the while getting a better view of the summit.  It was almost looking like there might be a possibility.
The Northeast Ridge
Once the ridge narrowed, it was time to get out of the snowshoes.  We dropped off a knoll and though we didn't say anything at the time, we both smelled a strong musky smell.  As I was undoing my snowshoes Dave called to me softly and I turned around to see this beautiful mountain goat.

After snapping a couple of pictures, something startled it and it took off across the ridge toward the summit.  It might have been us or the snowmobile way down below us, but the wind was blowing in our faces so he definitely didn't smell us.  After a few minutes Dave pointed the goat out as it crossed a snowfield just below the summit.  We looked at each other and said, "He just showed us the way to the summit!"
Dave starting across the ridge
By following the goat's tracks we made relatively quick progress across the narrow, undulating ridge.  Still, it took us almost 45 minutes to reach the first obstacle - a steep gully on the first summit block.  We started up the center of this, but quickly traversed over to the left to get out of the snow and on top of the rock.

The steep gully
The climb up this gully and rock was definitely class 3+ and was the crux of the climb.  The rock wasn't too bad, if you paid attention, it would only occasionally fall apart in your hands.  There were ample hand and foot holds along the ledges that needed to be traversed as Dave led the way.

A ledge on the first summit block (D. Pahlas photo)

Some more scrambling (D. Pahlas photo)

The final summit block
Once above the gully, we came upon a snowfield across a short ridge that needed traversing.  We thought it prudent to pull out the ice axes as the run out on either side would have wrecked a great day.  With axes in had we crossed the snow and started up the rock on the final summit block.  After 15 minutes of some great scrambling we were on top at 10,171 feet, and it was only 3:30.

Summit Splattski
Dave commented that this was almost a perfect day.  The sun was out, the wind had died down, and we were on the summit, but - John wasn't with us.  I was feeling a bit tired at this point, so as we sat on the summit admiring the views, I fueled up with the remaining food I had on hand.

Looking back at our tracks across the snowy ridge
My GPS showed that we had travelled almost 6 miles during the last six hours to reach this summit.  A bit of hard work was still left as we had to down climb the two blocks and traverse across the long ridge to get back to our snowshoes.  We took our time and in places had to try two or three potential routes to get down without traversing across some of the ledges we used on the way up.

Heading up to get down (D. Pahlas photo)
By 4:45 we had made it back to our snowshoes without any mishaps.  At this point I was feeling pretty tired and we only had to drop 3,000 feet and 5 miles to get back to the truck.  I figured we'd make it back by 7:30 and with the time change in effect we wouldn't need headlamps.

Dave heading down
As it was, we arrived at the truck at 7:15 and wearily told John all about it before heading into Ketchum for a well deserved burrito.


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A team of adventurers consisting of John, Tamara, Taylor, Dylan, and Shadow Fadgen