Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lemhi Mountains Weekend!

John Platt approaching the summit of Bear Mountain

It had been almost two years since I had been climbing in the Lemhi range.  My last trip here was in 2013, when we had a blast on the Idaho Outdoor film shoot http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2013/07/party-in-lemhi-mountains.html . When Dan proposed having the IdahoSummits spring outing in the Lemhis, we just had to make it a long weekend.

After four dozen emails we had a plan – Dan, Tom Lopez, John Platt and I would travel together and  climb peaks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

There was plenty of lively conversation as we traveled the 200 miles from Boise to Howe, Idaho. Just before Howe we turned off onto Eight Mile Canyon, a rough dirt road that would take us to our first peak of the weekend - Jumpoff Peak. We followed the right fork of Eight Mile Canyon until we reached a saddle at 7600 feet. After a short debate, we opted to park the truck and make a short hike up the remainder of the road rather than drive it.
Jumpoff Peak from the truck
Making good time on the "trail'
In a little less than an hour, we were below a large radio tower, which turned out to not be the summit. After a quick wave to a few people eating lunch on their ATVs under the radio tower, we headed over to the true summit.
John and Tom approaching Jumpoff Peak
Dan at Jumpoff Peak
It was a bit windy at the top, so after a few photos it was back down the road retracing our path. Once back at the truck, we drove the majority of the way to our next "peak" - Howe Peak. It, too, had a road to the radio tower cluster on top. So to be able to truly claim a summit, we parked 300' below and marched straight on up for our second peak of the day.

All told, we hiked a little less than 6 miles and gained over 1800 feet for the day. Not a bad way to stretch the legs before the group outing the next day.

Bell Mountain on the way to Summit Campground
We pulled into the meeting spot, Summit Campground, a little before 5PM and were greeted by Grant and Alicia Brill, the first two arrivals for the Spring Outing. After quickly unloading the truck, Dan, Grant, Alicia and I each grabbed a beer and headed out for a short scouting/wood collection trip. The original plan had been climb Bear Mountain from Big Gulch, but Dan had spotted a possible route closer to camp while "working" Thursday afternoon. As we gathered firewood in Summer House Canyon, we verified that Dan's chosen route should work.

That night, 16 of the 18 people to eventually hike the next morning, showed up. We all enjoyed a good time around the campfire meeting new friends and getting caught up with old ones. With a promise to be out of camp in the morning at 8AM, we stragglers finally called it a night around 11PM.

Saturday morning dawned clear with no wind, and it looked like it would be a good day! True to our word, all 18 people, stuffed into five rigs, proceeded up Summer House canyon a little after 8AM. After Dan's group photo, we all loaded up and sauntered up the two track.

At 8200 feet we turned East and started up the ridge to Peak 10112, our first objective of the day. Though we could see snow on the ridges, the conditions were unknown. It was an individual decision on what gear to take, so there was a mixture of snowshoes, crampons, ice axes and ski poles being carried up that morning.

As in past outings, the group quickly spread out. The Brills lead the charge while the majority of us clustered in smaller groups chatting as we grunted up the ridge.  
Bear Mountain

Luckily, the route was relatively snow free, and other than a bit of loose rock close to the summit, pretty straightforward. Other than Grant and Alicia, who were already on their way to Bear Mountain, the rest of the group took a short break on top of peak 10112 to admire the views.

Bear Mountain from Peak 10112
After this short break, the group again slowly split up as we dropped the 500 feet to the saddle between the two peaks. Here we started running into snow, and it wasn't good snow. John and I, remembering our postholing fiasco a couple of weeks earlier on North Twin http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2015/03/north-twin-11-081-ft-and-red-cone-peak.html, had played it safe and brought snowshoes. After a few knee deep postholes, we stopped, put them on, and continued.
Heading down in the soft snow
John, Jordan (who also had snowshoes) and I stayed on the snow covered the ridge and cruised with little effort. The others, without snowshoes, did their best to stay off the snow on the southwestern side of the ridge.

Basically, everyone found their own way across the interconnecting ridge. As we started up the ridge to Bear Mountain I spied our speedsters, Grant and Alicia, traversing a high snowfield. This was the first time I had seen them since we had started.
Grant and Alicia at 20x zoom
J. Platt photo
As we made our way higher towards Bear, the wind started picking up and clouds blocked the sun. At 10,200 feet and about a half mile from the summit, we removed our snowshoes and strapped them back on our packs. The ridge was becoming a little narrow at this point, and snowshoes would make it a little too dangerous. Just ahead of us, we could see Mark and Kyle traversing the ridge. It looked like it would be a lot of fun!

Mark and Kyle
Bear Mountain's eastern ridge
John, Jordan and I just followed Mark and Kyle's footprints, up, down and around the ridge. There were a few spots that had a little exposure, but only enough to raise the heart rate a tad. After 15 minutes or so, we joined Grant, Alicia, Mark and Kyle on the summit. Here we all hunkered down out of the wind and over the next 20 minutes were joined by the remainder of the crew.

The down climb was highlighted by a series of glissades down an avalanche chute filled with small trees and thin snow over rocks and branches. Though I was lucky enough to not hit anything, a couple fellow butt glissaders were not so lucky! Eventually we all made it back to the vehicles for celebratory beers!
Peak 10112 on the right and Bear on the left
Once back in camp everyone said their goodbyes and most left with the exception for the four of us, plus Grant, Alicia and Eric. That night we enjoyed some excellent buffalo burgers by chef Tom Lopez followed by some brownies.

We were all a little slower Sunday morning and were still undecided on what to climb. The night before some were talking about a big climb, while others were hoping for a smaller climb. After chatting about it over breakfast and while breaking camp, we finally decided on Hawley Mountain. The deciding factor was Tom graciously offering us the chance for the climb, since he had climbed this peak at least twice before.

Hawley Mountain sits in the middle of the Lost River Valley just west of Diamond Peak and Bell Mountain. Since it sits in the valley by itself, it has over 2K of prominence and was high on Dan's list.
Hawley Mountain
With Tom staying back guarding the food and beer, Grant, Alicia, John, Dan and I started up the sagebrush slopes at 8:45 AM. I was feeling pretty good for some reason (maybe the sugar laced instant oatmeal, multiple pastries, and coffee?) and walked and chatted with Grant and Alicia. We quickly made our way through the trees and up on to the loose rocks of the east ridge.
Alicia and Grant on Hawley

The three of us topped out on Hawley Mountain (Elv 9752) at 10:10 AM. After a leisurely snack we were joined by John and Dan for the cruise back to the truck.
Lounging (G. Brill photo)
Here we said goodbye to the Brills and started back home over Pass Creek. We gawked at the peaks in this area as the skies opened up with rain. Though the peaks were obscured by the rain, I'll definitely be back in this area.

We stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument for our last peak. Just across from the visitors center is a high spot called Sunset Cone. With Dan compiling the music playlist, John, Tom and I ran up this 400 foot "peak" in a little over 15 minutes for my 6th peak of the weekend.

All told we hiked over 15 miles and gained 7500 feet. Not a Herculean effort, but not too shabby either.

A great long weekend with great old friends and a bunch of new ones!

Monday, March 23, 2015

North Twin (11, 081 ft) and Red Cone Peak (10,286 ft)

John heading up Red Cone Peak
John wanted to get out on Sunday and had North Twin Peak in the Lost River Range on his mind.  Failing to find anyone else to join us, the two of us were on the road at 4AM.  After a quick stop for some gas and a breakfast burrito, in Arco, we were on our feet in Elbow Canyon at 8:45AM.  Luckily, we were able to drive to the 7000 foot level before the snow blocked the road.  From here we continued on foot following some ATV ruts in the deepening, crusted snow.

The “road” terminated a mile and half later in an open meadow surrounded by 10,000+ foot peaks.  Here we turned west and started up a tree and snow covered ridge that would eventually lead us to Red Cone Peak at 10,286 feet.  
Red Cone Peak

Once on the ridge, the snow thinned for a while and we made good time.  But at the 8400 foot level, the bare ground disappeared requiring us to travel on the snow pack.  I’ll use the term “pack” loosely here, since every third or fourth step we would break though the so called “pack”.  It was after a half hour of this post holing that I turned to John and told him he made a mistake.  He should not have listened to me when I said let’s leave the snowshoes back in the truck!
Though a horrible picture, it illustrates the snow conditions
On the bright side, we only had to ascend another 1000 feet of this hell before we broke out on the talus ridge leading directly to Red Cone Peak.  It is hard to describe the snow conditions, but there were a couple of times where we had to crawl on all fours to try and stay on top of it. Fortunately, the final ridge was snow free – nothing but loose talus.  

After a slow slog up the talus ridge, were we on top of Red Cone, staring at our main objective, North Twin.
North Twin (left)
We took a short break to eat and drink a bit and admire the views.  Though there was a thin cloud cover, the temperature was relatively warm with only a whisper of wind.  With the energy draining snow conditions we were both a bit tired at this point.  I was thinking that it was going to be tough for us to get in the three peaks we had planned for the day, but figured I would see how I felt once on top of North Twin.
Ridge between the two peaks
The snow ridge between Red Cone and North Twin looked like it might be a bit spicy as we descended down from Red Cone.  We stopped and put on our crampons before traversing this thin ridge, but we crossed without so much as a heart flutter – the view from above was a bit deceiving.  Though the snow across the ridge was consolidated, as soon as we started up the remaining 1200 feet to North Twin’s summit we started punching through again.  After a quick stop to remove the crampons, we moved to our right to gain the exposed snow free ridge.
South Twin
Though out of the snow, we now had to deal with the LRR’s infamous talus.  But after the fun we had been having in the snow, the loose rock was a welcome relief.  

We slowly plodded upward, eventually gaining the summit at 1:30.  By this point, the thin cloud cover had dispersed, improving the lighting and our views.  After resting and eating again, John and I mutually decided that our third objective (Peak 10677) was out of the question. 
Heading down with Red Cone Peak in the background
On the descent, we dropped back down to the saddle between Red Cone and North Twin with the thought of a nice, long, butt glissade down the large snow filled north gully.  The snow had to be better right?
The glissade gully
Wrong!  Though John did eventually glissade a portion of it, I could not get more than a continuous 10 foot slide.  I would break through the 2” thick crust and sink into the sugary snow.  I spent the 1000 foot descent alternating between trying to glissade,  post holing up to my thighs while trying to walk and shouting F-bombs.   
I'm jealous!
I eventually met back up with John at the bottom of the gully and we mixed in little bushwhacking with the continued post hole hell for the next mile all the way back to the ATV trail.

We eventually made it back to the truck with our tails between our legs at 4:30 – completely drained but smiling nonetheless.  Though it had been a hard day, it was still a great day!

A look back on the drive out

John's trip report: http://www.splattski.com/2015/north_twin/index.html

Distance:  7 miles
Elevation: 4300 feet
Time: 4:45 to summit, 7:45 car - car

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dickey Peak 11,141 Feet - The Tres Habaneros Route

Dickey Peak had been on my mind since John mentioned it a few weeks ago.  It had several things I was lacking in my life lately - altitude, snow, and adrenaline.  Knowing it was high on Michael's list, I sent them both an email on Monday suggesting we go for it.  A few emails later we had a plan.

Rather than do the typical 4AM start from Boise, we decided to head over to Challis on Friday afternoon and roughed it in a motel.  So, I put out a few emails to the large selection of Challis motels inquiring about a room for 3 guys.  I received the response from Deidra at the Northgate Inn saying she had a room with 3 queen beds at a great rate - Done!  Though Deidra wasn't much help on a restaurant selection, she definitely lived up to all the Trip Adviser reviews.  By the way, we had an unexpectedly fabulous burger at the Tea Cup Cafe and Bakery.

We rolled out of bed in the warm conference room (yes our room doubled as a conference room) at 6AM and were on our feet staring at Dickey Peak at 7:30.  Though it was a bit chilly at 25 degrees, we quickly warmed up as we marched across solid snow the two miles to Dickey's base.

Petros Peak 
Along the way, we discussed possible route options.  Since John had climbed Dickey via its north gully a few years prior, he suggested Michael and I select the route.  I liked the look of a large sweeping gully on the right (south) but as we got closer I suggested we modify it a bit by choosing a north (left) leaning gully that started on the south side. Michael seemed up for any route, as long as we stayed off the endless scree and it finished on top.

For the most part the snow was firm allowing us to make good time.

We stopped at 8500 feet to put on crampons and then continued on up.

As we turned left and started up the selected gully, a few fist sized rocks came whizzing past. Though the rocks missed us by a good 20 yards, I was wishing I'd brought along the helmet I had left back in the truck.
John surveying the many options
Once we reached the confluence of the three snow chutes, seen in the photo above, the route steepened and we had to make a decision.  The chute to the right looked like it was less steep, but the snow had a 2" wind crust over sugar, so it was a no go.  The center chute had some old wet slide debris and seemed solid, so it ended up being the choice.

The higher we progressed, the steeper it became.  The last 1000 feet didn't involve switching back across the face, it was just kicking steps, planting the ice axe and going straight up.  By this time we were in full sun, it was getting warm, and the snow was starting to get soft.  The route was a bit spicy, hence the name.
Michael, wondering when it will end.
With the ridge in sight, we angled to the left and gained this ridge at 10,400 feet.  From here it was only another 200 feet to the false summit or North ridge.
Glad to be on the spur ridge
Michael, glad to be on the ridge with John right behind
Our objective was only another 500 feet above the false summit.

The snow was extremely variable the rest of the way up.  A small portion would hold our weight, but this was interspersed with large patches of sugar snow under wind crust.  We gingerly picked our way along the ridge enjoying the views and reached the summit at noon.

There was a slight breeze on top, but after putting on our down coats we sat down to enjoy a leisurely lunch.

Now all we had left was the downclimb.  None of us were too keen on retracing our steep route down the chute, so we opted to come down the northern most gully.  We retraced our steps to the false summit before dropping into this gully.

The snow in this northern gully wouldn't support our weight at all, and we plunged to our shins with each step.  After stopping to remove our crampons, Michael tried a butt glissade.  Even though the snow was soft, he had no trouble maintaining a good speed.  Soon John and I joined him and we dropped 2000 feet in a short 10 minute span.

Our route - red is up, blue is down
Once out of this gully we stopped to retrieve the snowshoes we had stashed on the way up.  The temperature was now somewhere in the high 40s low 50s and the snow was becoming a sloppy mess. All that was left was the 2 mile trudge across this sloppy mess back to the truck.
"snow" shoeing!

John's trip report: http://www.splattski.com/2015/dickey/index.html

Class: Spicy!
Distance: ~8 miles
Elevation: 4300 feet
Time: Summit - 4.5 hours, Car to Car - 7.5 hours


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