Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Not So Dawn Arete

September 15, 2019.

Howard at sunrise
(Written by Dylan)
I departed Logan around 9pm, full from a big dinner and with a solid handful of dark hours to drive to meet Dad at the Garden Creek CG. We recalled staying here during the Rosencrance IdahoSummits Outing in 2013 and it seemed like an ideal place to meet for a trip up Wildhorse.

I only nearly hit one herd of elk on the drive up before rolling in around 1AM, stirring Dad. We talked briefly about start times in the morning, and settled on 7AM. I slept hard until the alarm and my bladder rousted me precisely at 7.

We didn't have a clear plan of where we wanted to go, but with the goal of a few pitches of roped climbing and maybe a summit of Howard peak guiding us, we figured to try to find the Dawn Arete. I had been up Mustang the week earlier, and I had a reasonably good idea of how to get there (or thought I did.) We decided to take the trail to the approach scree on the West face, and skirt around to the east above the trees but below the cliffs. This sort of worked, although we ended up dropping into the east fork of Wildhorse anyway. Sure, we had worked way harder than we needed to, but at least we were only behind schedule, right?

Now where is it?
Now in the drainage, the understanding that we really had no idea where we were going sunk in. Is this arete the Dawn? This one? That one? Should we go try to climb something on Howard? What if we try to climb what looks like could possibly be the Dawn but would still look fun? Let's do that.  We settled on a short, steeper arete that emptied into the steep headwall surrounding the rim of Mustang's East face. 

Picking a route, we went directly up the waterfall in the notch

Howard's East face (L), Mustang's East face (R)

Heading up. We climbed the right skyline (about)

Rockfall across the valley on Brocky
We found a slot/waterfall through the lower cliff bands at the base of the East face of Howard. A little  zigging and zagging brought us to our route. Gaining the arete looked a little steeper and smoother than we wanted to do unroped, so we broke out the cord and got going. A quick pitch of face with some interesting dihedral moves brought us to the arete proper. Fun climbing ahead!

A little roped climbing to gain the arete. I try to make my anchors look nice for the camera. And my mom. 

P2, the Offwidth on the arete
From here it was pretty obvious we were not of the Dawn Arete. Who cares, this looks sweet! Maybe we would care later.

The actual Dawn Arete
The climbing on the arete was some of the most fun and rewarding backpack-on alpine climbing I've done. Most notably, a fun 20' off width section that brought you to a small gendarme traverse, up to the goods. The Split Pillar. A glass smooth pillar about 18" wide and 30' long, entirely detached from the rest of the arete, but stuck in place with a good dose of Pioneer Magic. This was capped off by a fun roof to absolutely bomber hands.

P2, the Split Pillar

Looking back on the Split Pillar
After a lot of excited yelling and some light swearing, I pulled through the pillar and the roof to the absolute garbage above. Out of rope and nearly out of gear, I popped in an anchor at the lip of a nice ledge and brought Dad up. He took the next ledgy pitch, and belayed at the base of the headwall.

John following P2

P3, Pa's Pitch

Following P3
Here is where things got interesting. The rock is worse; mostly sand held together with lichen. With more lichen on top. All of the ledges are covered with gravel. There's an occasional tree. I decided to quest up the center of the face, hoping to piece together something fun and a little challenging, with the knowledge that we could always bail left if things got too "engaging." Things got too engaging. I groveled onto a ledge with a few small lodgepoles on them, hoping to cut left and get out of here. But, I was out of rope. I belayed Dad up and we settled in for the next part of the show, what he later dubbed "The Tightrope."

Some ledge action

Starting the Tightrope pitch (P5)


Looking back from the rim- Zoom in for some slung-horn action!
I gently moved out left to the end of the ledge, and started tiptoeing across small edges to the end of the face. My pack seemed to pull me out over the headwall, taunting me with nasty images of ledge falls and broken rock. I tested every piece of rock I touched, waiting for something to break in my hands. No holds broke on this pitch, but if they had it wouldn't have been pretty. I climbed a good 40' off of the ledge, and finally found some rock good enough for some pro. I slammed in a yellow totem and immediately slung a solid horn after, feeling miles better. The rest of the pitch flew by. I pulled onto the ridge and into the sun, quickly wrapped the rope around some boulders, and brought Dad up.  An exciting pitch!
Finally done, we considered the potential for this to be a new route. Was anyone misdirected enough to climb this house-of-cards chosspile? We should find out.

We left Howard for another day and headed down without incident.

Trail Creek East
We motored down the road and out to Amy Lou's, with plenty of time to spare for burgers before another long night drive.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Broken Arrow Arete, Mustang Peak

August 31, 2019

A quick climb in Wildhorse.

Nicole and I left Logan around 5PM, and after a rather large Wendy's order we were headed north to the Pioneer Mountains in Central Idaho. We were hoping to score a spot in Wildhorse Campground, and either drive or pedal up to the Wildhorse TH in the morning. It was Labor Day weekend, and as we neared the campground it became apparent finding a site would be iffy at best. However, we got lucky and pulled right into a nice site, and turned off the lights around 1am. 

Around 8 the next morning we rolled out of camp to the notoriously rough road to the TH, and decided to go for it in the car. After about 45 minutes of careful driving and a few moose sightings, we were at the trailhead. 

We went up the leftmost "scoop" to the skyline. 
The route is relatively straightforward: Go up the trail until you come across a large talus slope that looks like it will get you where you want to go, then scramble up until you feel like pulling out the rope. We decided to head up the face to a small col, then rope up there. 

The scramble

Rope time!
At about 11:30 I took off from our ledge just below the ridge. It looked like there was about 3 pitches of climbing to the top of the arete. The arete is a beautiful, exposed piece of rock, typical to the Pioneers. Long featured blocks of quartzite took protection readily, and there always seemed to be holds where you needed them. 

Looking up

Looking back on P2
Somewhere in the middle of the steepest section of the ridge (P2? My memory fails me) a stunning right facing dihedral opens up. It is almost vertical, and looks about featureless. As I got closer to this dihedral, it looked more and more difficult, maybe more than I wanted, given that my last piece was some 30 feet below me. As I made the decision to enter it, however, I noticed a beautiful 1" crack splitting the whole left side. Sweet! Fingerlocks and gear and good feet made that forty or fifty feet the highlight of the technical climbing. 

Topping out P3
After the dihedral pitch was another full length blocky ridge pitch, and then the final fifty or so feet of roped scrambling to the end of the arete, bringing the pitch count to 4. Time to stow the gear and head to the summit for the day!

Wildhorse Canyon below 
Almost to the top
We topped out, sunned ourselves for the better part of an hour, and began the talus walk back to the head of Wildhorse creek, and then back to the awaiting cold Wendy's cheeseburger from the night before. One of the best burgers I've ever had! It turned out to be a long day, despite only being about 6 miles and 3,000' of gain. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Lem and Tendoy Peaks

Link to previous day

Monday, August 12th

After a good night's sleep along the Salmon River and a great breakfast at a Salmon gas station cafe, we were on our way to our next objective - the peaks surrounding Bear Valley Lakes basin in the Lemhi Mountains.  With loaded backpacks, we hit the trail a little after 9AM.

Ready to go
The trail up to the basin had recently been cleared and didn't offer any outstanding views as evidenced by my lack of photographs.  We covered the roughly 5.5 mile trail in a couple of hours and set up camp near the largest of the Bear Valley Basin lakes - Lake 9135.

Our view for the night
After pitching our tents and a quick bite, we were off to our first objective - Tendoy Peak.  Tendoy was very prominent above our lake, but the summit wasn't obvious from below.  We opted to head straight up the steep NE ridge.  After a bit of huffing and puffing, were strolling along the broad ridge leading to the final steep rocky ridge to the summit.  A little bit of scrambling later and we were on the summit at 10,720 feet.
Tendoy Peak
Lake 9135 and Lem Peak from the ridge to Tendoy
Dave's summit register dance!
We took a short break before we split up.  Michael and I opted to head back, while Dave decided to follow the ridge to Peak 10,225.  I made it back to camp in time to wash off the 3 days of accumulated grime while in the sunshine.  Dave eventually showed up just before dark with a big smile on his face!  Mission accomplished!

Day 3 stats 
Distance - 8.5 miles
Elevation - 4400 feet
Time - 6 hours

Tuesday, August 13th

We had another alpine start the next morning as we hit the trail a little after 8AM.  After following the un-maintained Allison Creek trail south from Lake 9135,and crossing multiple wild flower filled meadows along the way, we broke out onto a broad plateau below Lem Peak.  This is some beautiful country!

Lem Peak
Dave looking for the best route to the top
The remnants of the trail switched back and forth across the scree before heading up to a saddle, where it joined an old Jeep trail coming up from the other side. The Jeep trail looked like it'd be a nice gentle route.
Saddle below Lem Peak
We took a short break at the saddle to hydrate and re-fuel.  From the saddle, we did our best to follow any bit of goat trail we could find.  For the most part we did a great job, with the exception being a short portion I led.

I followed what I thought was a goat trail only to have it wither away.  Faced with either back tracking to the ridge or heading up the steep, loose rocks, I chose the latter.  After a short, 50 foot stretch of very loose rock, we were back on the ridge.  Whew!
Michael navigating the loose section
After bypassing a few gendarmes and skirting another sketchy section or two, we were on the summit at 10,985 feet!

Sort of summit Splattski
The surrounding views were a bit hazy, but still outstanding!  After a short break, we re-traced our route down.  After all, Dave had another peak to climb!
Heading down
While Michael and I lounged in the sunshine in a large meadow below, Dave continued on the connecting ridge to Peak 10,456 (Little Lem Peak).
Dave on the summit of Peak 10,456

Close up
Dave eventually re-joined us and we strolled back to our packs and then proceeded down the trail back to our vehicles.  Other than meeting a group of disgruntled youth, with oversized packs, headed up the trail, the trip down was just long, dusty and hot.

Once back to the cars, we bid goodbye to Dave, and Michael and I turned north to our next objective - Snowshoe Peak north of Missoula, Montana.

Just south of Salmon is a place called the Baker Country Market. This is an Amish run place with a large assortment of canned and baked goods, including an excellent deli.  The sandwiches, which featured fresh bread, vegetables and possible homemade mayonnaise, were to die for!  Of course, a full day of hiking could have had something to do with that...

Day 4 stats 
Distance - 10.4 miles
Elevation - 2200 feet
Time - 7:15

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Ferguson and Cleft Peaks (Both 11,509')

Saturday, August 10th

Michael had been planning a follow up to last year's Montana trip with another visit to Big Sky country.  But, as the weekend approached, the weather took a turn for the worse, so we made a quick decision Friday evening to head to the Lost River and Lemhi ranges before turning North.

Like last year, Michael, Super Dave and I would be the participants.  After the short 5 hour drive from Boise, we arrived at the Swauger Lakes trailhead under beautiful skies.  NOAA had a 30% thundershower prediction for the following afternoon, so we figured we'd climb the peak with the longer ridge approach today - Ferguson Peak.

We quickly made our way up the switchbacks on the nice Swauger Lakes trail and took a left turn as the trail headed the other way. We followed the valley southwest until we reached 10,300 feet before climbing the steep scree field to reach the ridge to Ferguson.

At the base of the scree field, we spotted a couple dozen sheep in a few groups.  This ram allowed me to get a picture before he scampered off.

Michael headed up the scree
Once on the ridge, we could see Ferguson.  It looked to be a ways off with some interesting features between us and the summit.
Dave contemplating the ridge
Ferguson Peak

We followed the crest of the ridge as best we could, but deviated around the sketchy sections by following the sheep trails.  After almost two miles and two hours of ridge, we were at the summit.
Half-assed Splattski
After signing the summit register and having a snack, we retraced our steps across the ridge back to the saddle.  Here we split up; Dave continuing on up to climb peak 10,648, while Michael and I relaxed on the down climb.

Michael on a ledge headed back from Ferguson
We eventually met up just prior to the switchbacks and hiked back to the car discussing where to camp that night.

Day 1 stats 
Distance - 10.3 miles
Elevation - 4300 feet
Time - 7:40

Our next objective, Cleft Peak, was in the drainage to our North.  We only had to drive a short while before we happened upon a nice spot to pitch our tents.

Sunday, August 11th

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning, and we were not in any great hurry to get going.  So, after a leisurely breakfast and a bit of bird watching, we finally broke camp and made the short drive to the end of Dry Creek road.

It appeared that NOAA's prediction of precip might come true as dark clouds were moving in quickly from the West.

Ferguson Peak from the other side
As we hiked up Dry Creek, we did get a few sprinkles, but continued on what appeared to be an old ATV trail.  After close to four miles of flat walking, we left the trail and took a right up the appropriate drainage.

Cleft Peak on the left

Now where is the trail again?
Heading up the drainage
The drainage was a mix of deadfall, avy debris, brush, rocks, rocks and more rocks.  Occasionally we would come to a choke point and we'd either go over or move around it.

Dave on a 3rd class scramble in the drainage
As the drainage opened up, the cloud cover dissipated and we were left with nothing but scree.

We each chose our own line, put our heads down and zig-zagged our way up the steep scree field until we reached the ridge at 10,800 feet.

Once on the ridge, we had a few scramble sections, but nothing too difficult.  Unlike the long ridge the previous day on Ferguson, the ridge to Cleft was only 1/2 mile long.

D. Pahlas photo

Our summit is there somewhere

We reached the south summit at roughly 3PM.  Where had the day gone?  We couldn't recall if the south or north summit was the high point, so we scrambled over the the north summit just to be sure.
North summit of Cleft

We enjoyed the views while contemplating the remainder of the week.  But, realizing we had over 7 miles to get back to the cars, we didn't spend too much time on top.
Michael plunge stepping his way down
It was a long, hot, walk back down the drainage.  We were beat by the time we reached the ATV trail and the last three miles of flat walking were painful. 

We finally reached the cars a little after 7PM.  After a quick discussion, we opted to try and get to Mackay for a cheeseburger.  We pulled into Amy Lou's in Mackay at 8:45PM on Sunday evening, and after some sweet talking, convinced them to restart the grill for us.  Three excellent cheeseburgers later and we were on our way to find a camping spot along the Salmon River.

Day 2 stats 
Distance - 14.8 miles
Elevation - 4300 feet
Time - 10:00

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