Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, May 16, 2016

Big Creek Peak - 11,350'

Last weekend a half dozen adventurous men made a trek to Eastern Idaho for a couple of days of climbing in the Lemhi range.  John P (Splattski), Dave (SuperDave), Michael (Boisedoc) and I met up with Steve and Alex (the math professors) late Friday night at the Big Creek Campground after a 4 hour drive.  It was a gorgeous night - not too cold and the moon was shining bright.  With a 70% chance of precipitation forecast for Saturday afternoon and a planned big day ahead of us, we hit the sack early in preparation of a semi alpine start.

Heading up in the morning
We were walking up the nice trial on the North Fork of Big Creek by 6AM in clear skies.  70% chance or precip?  It sure didn't appear like that was going to happen.  In a little less than a mile, we took a hard right and followed a faint trail up the steep hillside.  This faint trail eventually petered out as snow patches started to appear. 
Dave trying to stay on top of the snow
Michael finding his way through the trees
We skipped around the soft snow patches until we eventually ran out of bare ground.  By this point we were high enough (8500' ?) to where the snow was harder, allowing good travel - most of the time.  I followed the "post hole whisperer" for the most part.  I would detour from his route only when I saw him fall through.  After hearing about the others busting through the snow, I thought this was a pretty good strategy on my part.
The summit is in sight.
Leatherman begging to be skied!
Above treeline at ~10,000 feet we had our choice of routes - stay on the mostly solid snow or climb the tricky talus.  After stumbling around a bit on the talus and realizing it wasn't much fun, I stayed with trying to keep to the snow.  This seemed to be another good plan, as I made good time up the patchy snowfields.  There were a few spots where crampons would have made me feel a bit safer, but there just wasn't enough contiguous snow to warrant them.

John and Dave busting some lungs
John and Michael at the summit
 It was a straightforward, albeit lung buster, walk up to the summit at 11,350', which we gained at 10:30.  The four of us sat around shooting the breeze and fueling up while the waited for the math professors.  Once they showed up it was on to our next objective - Flatiron Mountain at 11, 019'.
Summit shot before the math professors arrived
Of course Dave spotted his usual quota of mountain goats.
Zoomed in on the three goats.
 We headed down the broad southeastern face of Big Creek Peak.  Some of us walked, while others chose to glissade.

I think the glissaders had much more fun!

The snow was still variable, even above 10K feet.  We would make good time across the solid portions of snow, only to fall through on the rotten portions.  This rotten snow necessitated what John called "technical ice crawling".
Yours truly practicing "technical ice crawling" - Photo courtesy of D. Pahlas
We eventually reached the saddle between Big Creek and Flatiron Mountain at ~10,500'.  Now all we had was a short grunt up the 600 feet to the broad summit of Flatiron.

The summit of Flatiron peak (11,019')

A couple of serious avalanche debris fields
Looking back at Big Creek Peak.
At the summit of Flatiron, we were all feeling pretty good about ourselves after climbing our first two 11K peaks this year.  With the clouds building, we took a short break before dropping down the southern face of Flatiron, to climb our third peak of the day - Peak 10571.   This required us to drop a 1000 feet before climbing back up another 600 feet.

Dropping down off Flatiron with Peak 10571 in the foreground
I wasn't feeling too bad after the first two peaks, but this last one required a bit of extra effort.  After all we had been out for a little over 8 hours by this point and had climbed 6000 feet.  From the summit of Peak 10571 we had great views of the two 11ers we had just climbed.    And from the look of things, the 70% chance of precipitation was going to hold off.
Looking back at Big Creek (left) and Flatiron from Peak 10571
 While we were making that long walk down the mountain to the trail head my camera slipped through my fingers.  Off course it landed on a rock causing the LCD screen (viewfinder) to quit.  So at this point I quit taking pictures.  Other than a couple of slips and falls between us all, the walk down the mountain was uneventful and we arrived back at camp at 6PM.

Time: 12 hours (camp to camp)
Distance: 11 miles
Elevation: 6000'

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Little Desert Relaxation

Dylan "relaxing" on an off width
A few weeks back Tamara and I joined Dylan in Las Vegas for the 13th annual Red Rock Rendezvous.  The RRR is a rock climbing “festival,” put on by Mountain Gear, in the climbing mecca of Red Rocks.  We had previously attended this festival in 2012 and were eagerly looking forward to gaining some additional knowledge from the climbing seminars put on by professional climbing athletes.  Needless to say we had a great time.  We learned a lot: I learned traditional lead climbing, Tamara brushed up on some beginner techniques, while Dylan suffered through an off width clinic.  In addition to rubbing shoulders with some semi-famous rock climbers, we enjoyed the free flowing beer and wine, a great bar-b-que dinner and camaraderie of like-minded individuals.
Supposed to be gangsta signs!

 Since I had to attend a trade show in Las Vegas for work, on Thursday, we decided to make a semi vacation out of the week.  After a fun time hanging with family Sunday night, Tamara and I headed east to Zion National Park and Dylan headed back to classes at Utah State. 

The first stop was outside the park for some mountain biking in an area called Gooseberry Mesa.  This area is supposed to be “Moab like” slick rock riding, a new treat for us.  It was definitely new, but I am not sure about the treat part. With a printed map of the area, we headed out following the white dots painted on the rock.  It didn’t take long to get completely turned around on the flat mesa.  But as long as we followed the dots we’d be fine, right? 

Other than a couple of near crashes and quite few walk-a-bikes, we did OK for our first time riding on rock. We definitely need more practice with this type of riding to get proficient at it. 

We didn’t actually get lost while riding, turned around a few times, but never lost.  Next time it might be helpful to bring a GPS.

The next morning we hit Zion NP early to try and beat the crowds up Angel’s Landing.  Angel’s Landing is one of the most popular hikes in Zion.  It climbs a paved path up steep switch backs on the side of a a wall, before crossing a knife edge ridge offering some excellent exposure.  This ridge comes equipped with chains to grab on to to steady yourself if needed.
Tamara with Angel's Landing in the background

The final ridge

I’m glad we started early on this, as we got to enjoy the summit with only 40-50 of our closest friends!  Despite the crowd, the view from the top was outstanding.  The descent was uneventful, other than dodging the hundreds of people heading up the chained route!  Gotta love our national parks!
The true high point
That afternoon we stopped at the local bike shop to get some beta on another mountain bike ride – the JEM trail.  This is another great trail outside of Hurricane, Utah that traverses along the Virgin River canyon rim before meandering around the valley for miles and miles.  Not much climbing involved on the ride, but the stiff wind, warm temperatures and rocky terrain kept our heart rates up.
JEM Trail
Virgin River

 Since personal vehicles are not allowed in Zion NP, the following morning we took a leisurely bike ride to the end of the road.  We stopped along the way to enjoy the stunning morning views as well as the climbers ascending the famous, Moonlight Buttress.  Now those are some bad ass climbers!

We finished up the weekend with seeing some of the boys (and girls) from the old college days, down on Fremont Street.  Good times!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Copper Mountain

I'd been watching the snow pile up on the Banner Summit SNOTEL site for the last couple of weeks, and after Friday's 8" dump I was ready to give it a go.  Tamara and I met up with John, in Banks, and negotiated the elk filled roads to Banner Summit.

It was a little after 9AM when we pulled into the un-plowed wide spot on Highway 21 and started to unload.  After carefully stashing a couple of special post ski beers in the snow between the car and 7 foot wall of snow that marked the road edge, we were off!
Beautiful morning!
Luckily, someone had put in a skin track on Saturday, so we didn't have to break trail.  There was an inch or two of fresh snow from Saturday on top of the 8" from Friday.  It was about 10 degrees, the sun was out, and there wasn't any wind. It was looking good!

Tamara cruising up
This section was begging to be skied

As we progressed up, we made a few stops to strip layers, drink and chat.  Before we knew it, the summit was in sight.
John nearing the summit
Tamara on top (J. Platt photo)
Summit Splattski sans Splattski
The top couple hundred feet was a bit wind affected, but once we got past this section it was silky smooth!  So silky smooth that we ended up doing three laps!

All I could think about as we skied up the road to the car was the stashed beer.  Unfortunately, the snow plow had pushed up a 4 foot mountain of snow between the car and snow wall removing my footprints that led to the beer.  Oh, well, no worries.  We'll just use our shovels and dig it out.  Fifteen minutes later, we had moved the mountain of snow around, but could not locate the beer.  Dang!  Next time I'll bring a cooler.

 Splattski's Trip Report


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