Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ancient Art- Stolen Chimney

With a weekend to spare, and only 2 weeks until my main climbing partner, (other than my father, of course) Cody, moves to Phoenix, we decided it was time to drive down to Moab and climb Ancient Art in the infamous Fisher Towers. My alarm went off at 3:30am on Saturday morning, and I stumbled out to the living room to wake up Cody, who was sound asleep on my living room floor. After a little convincing, we were on the road at about 3:45. I drove through to Price, about 3 hours. It was light by the time we rolled into Price and was time to switch drivers. I dozed off and on in the passenger seat, trying to capture more than the one and a half hours of sleep I'd gotten the night before.
Upon our arrival in town we made a beeline to a gear shop. We needed to pick up a few Yates Screamers, a vital piece of equipment for the sketchy fixed anchors in our destination. After this purchase, we pulled onto River Road and made quick work of the thirty or so miles to the Towers parking lot.
The Fisher Towers from the parking area

We rack up and argue like an old married couple on what gear to bring. We are on the trail by 10:30, and finish the hike to the base of our climb by 11. 

Ancient Art is the corkscrew spire just right of the tallest point, Kingfisher

The first pitch of the Stolen Chimney is some easy class 4/low class 5 scrambling, and up a smooth wash to a bolt ladder. I lead it and quickly aid the bolt ladder to the first four-bolt belay. Cody leads the next pitch, a 120' straight chimney, over a few overhangs. As he climbs, he frequently showers me with sand and dust. The rock here is basically compressed mud, as evidenced by the runnels and caked-on sand produced by the occasional rainstorm.
Looking back at the top of the first pitch

Cody places plenty of protection, knowing full well that most of it is just for confidence. As stated in our guidebook, "Your best protection for climbing in the Fisher Towers is not falling." No falling allowed! Cody clips the old pitch one anchor (a drilled piton and an old star dryvin bolt with a Leeper hanger) and pulls a wild roof crack/stem into the top of the chimney. Here the route passes a few chockstones to get to the pitch 2 belay anchor, a spacious ledge with another three or four bolt belay. I quickly follow. 

The third pitch is only 30' long, but it is necessary to get to the start of the Sidewalk. It passed without event. 

From the start of the Sidewalk, things get interesting. I decide to lead first. I walk the first fifteen feet along the narrow path (maybe 20 inches wide, with 500' of air to both sides!). About 3/4 of the way along the Sidewalk is a step down, the crux of the final pitch for some. After stepping down, you come to the infamous Diving Board. The name aptly describes it. It sits right about at sternum height for me. I lassoed it with a double-length sling, knowing full well it wouldn't do anything if I skated off. I placed both hands on the top of the feature, counted to three, about ten times, and finally worked up the courage to leap. Upward and forward. I landed hard, but didn't feel a thing. Cody and I both breathed a sigh of relief, but the look of the climbing ahead was not reassuring. I clipped the bolt at the base of the Diving Board and moved up and left, stemming and pulling on slopers and soap bars. I moved right this time and stepped onto a ledge, where the next bolt was. 

A few more moves passed in calm terror as I pulled an awkward mantle to the nest of webbing slung around the top. I clipped this, gathered myself, and headed up to the top of the spire. 
On top!

I quickly lowered off, back across the Sidewalk, and to the belay anchor. Cody and I swapped belays, and he made his way out to the Diving Board. He made the leap and landed safely on top. He made quick work of the awkward moves to the summit. 
Cody on top

With both of us now back down to the anchor, we snapped a few pictures and set up the rappel to the top of the second pitch. 
Cody excited after the final pitch

The rappels passed without incident, thankfully. A full 70 meter rappel on two ropes took us all the way back to the ground, where we talked about how little we had eaten as we packed up to hike out. 

We drove into town to wrestle with a few routes on Wall Street just outside of town, but quickly realized neither of us were adept enough at sandstone crack to be worth a damn. We drove back to our campsite in the shadow of the towers and went to sleep with the wind howling. 

Our alarm went off in the morning at 7am, with Castleton Tower our goal. Unfortunately, it was snowing, windy, and freezing cold, so we opted to go to Denny's and head home instead. 

Towers Sunday morning

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Graham Peak – 8867’

Graham Peak, as seen from the City of Rocks visitors center
With the lovely February weather we have been having lately, John Platt organized a road trip to the City of Rocks in Southeastern Idaho to visit some old friends of his.  Oh, and a climb of a nearby peak would also be involved.

John and Julie met Michael, Tom Lopez and me at the Albertsons parking lot early Sunday morning.  The 5 of us squeezed into the Platt’s Toyota Highlander, which is “supposed” to carry 7, for the quick 3.5 hour drive to Almo, Idaho.  There we meet up with John’s old friends, Tom Harper and Hannah North, and made the short drive to the City’s Circle Creek trailhead.

Unbeknownst to me, the City has a pretty extensive trail system.  Hannah, who has run and hiked these trails many times, led the way through the twists and turns around the many rock formations.  After about an hour, Hannah peeled off to shuttle the 7 person Highlander to our finish point, while the rest of us continued on.
Steinfell's Dome

The excellent Circle Creek Trail
Heather explaining to John just how big it is
Tom Harper
The trail switched back and forth and we eventually gained enough altitude to see our peak.  
Graham Peak
Along the way, we passed many interesting rock formations including this window.   

At roughly 7800 feet, we came to a broad plateau where Circle Creek Trail intersected with the Indian Grove Trail.  We followed the Indian Grove two track for a bit, and soon had a great view of our objective.  Rather than continue along the road, we turned right and made a beeline for the base of the peak.

After struggling through some thick sagebrush and a snow filled gully, it was time to head up the steep, mountain mahogany filled slope to the summit.  At this point the six of us wandered apart, taking slightly different routes.  The path of least resistance required staying in or near the mahogany and jumping between snow patches to minimize the exposure to the wickedly thick sagebrush. 

There are actually two people in the mahogany
Michael and I covered this final 1000 feet in about an hour, only to be blasted by 30mph winds on the summit.  In short order, Tom Lopez joined us and the three of us huddled behind a 5 foot wide radio tower building to try and stay out of the wind.  This worked for a bit, but we quickly became chilled.
Michael approaching the summit
Michael naming some distant peaks to Tom
Once John, Julie and Tom Harper joined us, we took some quick photos and bailed off the east side to get out of the wind and warm up.  Once we dropped down a few hundred feet, we stopped to take a break, get a bite to eat and enjoy the views of the City. 

As we continued down the mountain, Tom Harper entertained us with the history of the surrounding area and pointed out other hiking opportunities.  As the sun dropped below the mountains, we finally arrived at our destination at 6PM.
A look back up in the fading light.
This link details the City of Rock hiking opportunities: http://www.americasstateparks.org/park_maps/Idaho_map_City_of_Rocks_Trails_Brochure.pdf

Time: 8 hours
Distance: ~ 10 miles
Elevation: ~3200 feet


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