Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Thursday, September 24, 2020

North Face of Cobb Peak (11,650 feet)

Dylan and I first saw the North face of Cobb Peak from our climb of Hyndman Peak, a few years back.  At that time we could dream about climbing it.  

On top of Hyndman in 2010 with Cobb behind us

Fast forward 10 years, and we were going for it!  

Dylan and I had done a couple of Pioneer alpine climbs the previous two years, and I threw out the idea of the NF of Cobb without having any idea if it was even feasible.  Dylan, being Dylan, accepted the idea without hesitation.  The only beta I could find was from Sun Valley Trekking, and it mentioned solid rock with a couple of 5.8 moves. Seemed to be in my wheelhouse...

After a lazy Saturday evening kicking around Ketchum, we woke up to clear (no smoke!) and cold conditions at the Hyndman Creek trail head.  A quick cup of coffee and we were off a little after 7AM.

A cold start!

Cobb Peak (South Face)

In an effort to stay warm, Dylan set a fast pace and we made good time on the 3 miles of flat trail.  The steep pull up to the 8700' basin was followed by another incline into the upper basin at 9400'.  As we headed toward some sunshine in this upper basin, we ran into John and Alyson Kirk of Lists of John fame.  After a quick hello/goodbye we stopped in the sunshine to warm up, eat something, rack gear and look at our objective.

Upper Hyndman Basin

Which way should we go?

Once ready, we headed back down into the shade, crossed the creek, and carefully climbed up the scree field to the base of the wall. I had printed out a picture of the SV Guide's route for reference, but we opted to pick our own line.

Once ready, Dylan took off up the wall as I belayed him and shivered in the shade.  When it was my turn to follow, I was surprised at the difficulty of the first few moves up the steep wall.  Maybe it was the cold (I could barely feel my fingers) or the butterflies, but the first few moves felt like 5.8 right off the bat.  I was hoping things would get easier and said as much as I met Dylan at the anchor.

Close to the end of pitch 1 (D. Fadgen photo)

Contemplating a big move! (D. Fadgen photo)

In his element

Looking up at pitch 3 or 4

Close up

Dylan figuring out his line

The going did get a little easier in the steep, high quality Quartzite.  There was also a considerable amount of moss thrown in with occasional snow on the ledges.  All great fun! 

As we got higher, the temperature stayed about the same, but at least we had feeling in our fingers again.  Though cold, the climbing was very enjoyable with solid holds available for the committing moves.
Hard to keep a smile off his face

Top of pitch 6? getting ready to break out into the sun

Ahhh!

We had one last pitch along a knife edge ridge before we reached our exit close to the walk up route.  We'd climbed over 1000 feet and it was now 2:30.  Where had the time gone? 


Since we were only 600-700 feet from the summit, we figured we'd make quick work of getting to the top.  In hindsight, it might have been easier to stay roped up on the knife ridge. The trip to the top was a mixture of loose rock and steep slabs.  It would have definitely been more fun on a different day.


We eventually made it to the summit at 11,650 feet, but didn't linger since it was still a bit chilly and it was getting late. 
All smiles on top!

We carefully picked our way down through the steep, loose rock and then continued down, and down, and down until we found the main trail.  We did our best to move fast on the trail and eventually reached our rigs just as the sun set.


This was truly another great alpine climb with my son.  Limited beta, mixed with route finding and some committing moves several hundred feet above the deck.  What a way to live!

Our route


Google Earth Track

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Scree Central - Lost River 11er's

The original plan for this summer's peak bagging week was to head to Montana and climb McDonald Peak in the Mission Range, but the access through the Reservation was closed due to COVID.  So we switched gears to climb some of the Idaho 11er's remaining on Michael's list.

Since these peaks are all in the Lost River Range, we knew we were in for some serious scree.

We left Boise early Saturday morning and arrived at Long Lost Creek at about 10AM.  We wasted no time in starting the hike up the trail.   

Castle Peak from the trail head

NOAA had forecasted sunny skies and mid-70's and was spot on.  The slight breeze made the hiking that much more enjoyable.
The Moat to the right of the saddle with Castle Peak

Surprisingly, the trail continued past the turn off to Hell Canyon and Shadow Lakes.  The bushwhacking was minimal the few times we lost it.  Though it was almost mid July, the area was green and the wildflowers were blooming.
Peak 11,477, aka "The Moat"

We gradually gained altitude and after 4.5 miles and around 9000' feet we started up the steep slope to the saddle at 10,200'.  The footing was great, especially when we found the sheep trail.
Michael cruising up the sheep trail to the saddle

Once above the saddle it was a pretty straightforward climb up the ridge to the summit at 11,477 feet.
Looking down Long Lost Creek



We took a break on top, eating some lunch and enjoying the spectacular views. Too bad the weather wasn't nicer.

Since we were planning on camping at the Leatherman trailhead that evening, we didn't dawdle for too long before starting down.

We re-traced our route on the descent but didn't lose sight of the trail this time and made good time back to the truck.  A good warm up peak!

Stats:
Distance - 9 miles
Elevation - 3400 feet
Time - 7 hours car to car


Sunday July 12

After a great night's sleep on our cots, at the end of the West Fork Pahsimeroi road (the three campsites were taken), we were heading up the trail to Merriam Lake for our second peak of the trip, Sacagawea Peak.  Another stellar day - no clouds, cool temps and a slight breeze.


Though the ski line wasn't in, the views of Leatherman Peak from the trail did not disappoint.  It didn't take us long to reach Merriam Lake at 9600'.  

Mount Idaho towering over Merriam Lake

As we crested the ridge and made it to the lake, we were greeted by a couple of barking dogs.  Great.  Three guys were tucked in their sleeping bags to get out of the now blowing wind, and greeted us with a "Welcome to Camp Wind," before calling off their dogs and covering back up.  

We motored on past, continued around the lake a followed the inlet stream higher.
Sacagawea to my right
The difference on the East side of the Lost River Range is like night and day compared to the dryer West side.  Streams, meadows, and wild flowers, were all in abundance.  

We followed the inlet stream as it turned right, up to the glacial moraine at 10,000' with Sacagawea staring us in the face.  

Our goal was to obtain the ridge between Mt Idaho and Sacagawea but the ridge was guarded with either rock bands or cornices.  Since we left our snow gear back as camp, we decided on the rock bands.

Our first choice was to our right, on the Sacagawea side of the ridge.   It was steep and loose up to the rock bands.  Once there, I figured we might be able to squeeze by the snow, but it was a no-go.  The chute was filled with snow and the steep angle and poor snow quality caused us to turn back and find a different route.
Our failed ascent path

So we re-traced our steps down and around to our left until we found another place that we thought would go.  Again, it was step and loose, but we found a series of ledges through the rock bands.  Then it was just a steep pull to the saddle at 11,000'.


Michael finishing up the rock bands

Once on the saddle, we had a view of our route to the summit.  The gully looked like it was a long ways off and very steep.  We were skeptical, but the clear skis have a way of tricking your eyes, so we dropped down to skirt the class 4 ridge and made our way to the gully.
The summit is the left most point with the snow

As you can see from the picture below, the scree filled gully wasn't too steep.  We picked our way through the rock, trying to find some that wouldn't slide.  


We reached the 11,936 foot summit a little before 1PM, for a 5 hour ascent.  Other than some wind, the weather was perfect.

We had some lunch and perused the register, seeing names of old friends.


North Face of Mt Idaho

After an extended break on the summit, we re-traced our route back to the saddle talking about how to get through the rock bands.  Rather than follow our ascent we opted to stay to our right and luckily found a steep, loose (i.e. sketchy) chute that dropped us just where we wanted to be.  Gotta like it when that works out!
Michael trying to not slide down the sketchy chute

As we made our way back through the green meadow area we came upon a herd of Bighorn sheep.  There were close to 40 of them and they did not mind posing for a few pictures.



After spending way too much time with the sheep, we hiked past Merriam Lake and continued down the trail to camp.
Last look at Mt. Idaho

Stats:
Distance - 8.9 miles
Elevation Gain - 4200 feet
Time - 10 hours car to car

Back at camp, I cooked up some In the Wild Chef Spaghetti Carbonara with Italian sausage.  What a great way to finish off the day.


Monday July 13

Monday morning was a carbon copy of Sunday morning - clear, relatively cool and beautiful.  We were both feeling a little fatigued, but nothing that some breakfast cake and coffee couldn't fix.  Our goal for today was Merriam Lake Peak, aka Merriam's Pinnacle, aka, Peak 11,180. 
Merriam's Pinnacle from Sunday morning

We had some beta - "after a while leave the trail, bushwhack to the base of the mountain, climb, find a gully with stunted trees and get to the summit."  This lack of detail made for a great adventure.

We weren't quite as energetic as the previous two days as we headed up the Pass Lake trail.  After a while we decided to cut right and find the base of the peak.  Luckily we found a nice elk trail that bypassed the majority of the deadfall.  

A portion of our route

Once at the base, we started up the very steep slope until we were blocked by the steep rock.  We picked a narrow chute, and utilizing a couple of veggie belays, pulled our way.
Michael enjoying the steepness with Leatherman in the background 

After a bit, the slope opened up and we could almost see our summit.  Or at least we thought we could.



After reaching the main ridge we started sidehilling to bypass a large gendarme.  Eventually we reached the "gully with the stunted trees."  At least we thought we did.
Gully with stunted trees

After carefully working our way up the gully, we reached the main ridge at roughly 11,114 feet, but couldn't see the actual summit.  From our view of Merriam's Pinacle the day before, we knew that there were several summits, with the tallest being the farthest from our current position.  Hmmm.
The summit's back there somewhere
I jumped up on the rotten ridge and started across.  After 10 or so feet I needed to downclimb to get to the next section.   At this point I wasn't feeling too confident.  The rock was rotten, the exposure was big, and I was tired.  I looked back at Michael and knew that this route was a no-go.  So I carefully reversed course and we slowly downclimbed to where we could make a steep sidehill traverse.
More sketchy sidehilling

Michael led the way across some extremely rotten, loose rock that at times was too close to the edge of some large cliffs.   After the long traverse we headed up and arrived at the other side of the summit ridge.  From here it was a walk up to the summit.
Back side of the summit ridge we didn't take

Summit shot

Looking across the valley to Sacagawea with Mt. Borah in the background

We searched around for the 1964 summit register that we had read about, but were unable to find it.  Considering how few people climb this peak, we were a bit bummed.  We had a nervous bite to eat before heading back down.

We carefully reversed our route and breathed a big sigh of relief once we were past the big sketchy sidehill traverse.  From there it was just a knee busting descent back to the valley floor.

Unfortunately, we were not as lucky on missing the deadfall on the way out.  We eventually wandered back into camp.  I was one whipped puppy.

The statistics do not indicate the difficulty of this climb.  It may have been the impact of the previous two days, but this was one exhausting (both physically and mentally) peak.

Stats:
Distance - 5.1 miles
Elevation - 3000 feet
Time - 8.5 hours

Another great multi-day outing with Mr. Pelton!

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