Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Goat Creek Peak (Peak 8754)

Goat Creek Peak, aka Peak 8754
John had a free weekend and wanted (needed) to get out.  I'd visited his webpage last week and re-read the Sister Creek Peak trip report ( http://www.splattski.com/2016/pk_8530/index.html ) we'd done last spring.  The trip report reminded me of a peak we opted not to do during that snowshoe trip, since were a bit too wiped out to attempt it.  The area looked like it would be a good ski, so I offered up this peak to John.  He was all in!

We met up at 7AM, outside of Cascade, with both skis and snowshoes.  At this time of year you just don't know if it can be a ski or will end up being a slog.  As we drove over Big Creek summit and saw all the fresh snow, I was thinking only about skiing. Screw the slow shoes!

With skis on our backs, we were climbing up through the dead fall and buck brush a little after 8AM. 

It wouldn't be an outing with John without some dead fall
We had a bit over a mile and 1000' feet of frozen, bare ground before we reached a point where we could transition from hiking boots to skis.
Moon over a ridge on the other side of the road
Still climbing through the buck brush
Note the handy coat rack!
It was a pleasure to get the skis and boots off our backs and onto our feet.  No more dead fall or buck brush to wade through!  It was cold by April standards, but the sun was out and the wind was non-existent.  It was turning into an awesome day!
John moving quickly up the ridge
More John, more ridge
 As we moved up, the fresh powder became thicker and a bit heavier.  What should have been an easy skin up the open ridge, started to get a bit more difficult, but the views were fantastic!
Looking across the valley to the east

We traversed this ridge to the high point in the center
After a couple of hours of steady uphill, our peak finally came into view.
Goat Creek Peak (just to the right of the thicker cloud) way back there
And a close up view of the peak
More of John's rear end
Once up and over Point 8355, the view of the Goat Creek drainage came into view. By this point, I was singing the my theme song for the day - "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego Movie. The views were that good!  Unfortunately, we had to drop a few hundred feet from Point 8355 to get down to the ridge that would allow access to our peak.  John, always thinking ahead, took an angled route down so we could use it as a skin track on the way out.

Goat Creek drainage

After a not so short traverse around a cliffy section to our left, we took a short rest to fuel up for the final 300' push to the summit.  With clouds moving in from the west, we moved as fast as we could to try and get to the summit while still in the sunshine.
Getting steeper
Looking back at our skin track in the gathering clouds 
We skied to within 30 feet of the summit, dropped our skis and booted to the top.  From the picture below, it looks like we beat the storm.  But if you look closely at the photo, you can see the snow falling. Oh well.
All smiles on the summit
We spent a few minutes on top enjoying the not so clear views before clipping into our skis for the descent.  This would have been a great place to ski laps as the area is open and has a 30-35 degree angle.  I mentioned to John that if we were 20 years younger we could probably do a few laps.  He agreed and added we would probably also try it if our IQ's were 20 points less.
Looking back from the summit
The initial descent off the summit provided a few turns in some nice powder, but we mostly traversed our skin track out.  Once we reached the uphill section, it was time to stop for some lunch. Though cloudy with light snow falling, it was not windy, and lunch was pleasant.

John following the skin track
 After short break refueling, it was time to make the short 300 foot climb up to Point 8355.  Though the idea of using the descent ski track as an uphill skin track was good in theory, the only person that could have used it was Larry Craig (think wide stance)!

It was all downhill after we climbed back to point 8355.  The snow was fantastic for 600-700 feet and we both enjoyed some nice April turns in the buttery snow.   After a bit the snow thickened, and the turns required a bit more concentration.
John getting his April turns in
As we progressed lower, more obstacles showed up.  We did our best to ski/slide around the stumps and rocks sticking above the snow, until we reached our boots.  We tucked the boots into our packs and then continued to cautiously slide our way down as far as we could.  After another couple of hundred feet, we ran out of snow and it was time to put the skis back on our backs.

All smiles as we make our way down to the truck
The last mile down was the same as the uphill; dead fall and buck brush.  Before we knew it we were back at the truck feeling great but tired.  Another awesome day hiking (skiing) to an obscure central Idaho peak!


Stats:
Distance: ~9.5 miles
Elevation: ~5000 feet
Time: 7.25 hours
Theme Song: "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Windy Ridge - 4653'

Tamara, Shadow and I spent the last weekend of spring break down in our old stomping grounds by Oxbow Dam at the head of Hells Canyon.  As a family, we have spent many a fall weekend here prior to Taylor and Dylan growing up.  The plan was to hike and fish, but the amount of water flowing through the Snake River made hiking the better choice.

After the wacky weather we had Thursday (>1.5" of rain in Boise!), Friday was clear and breezy with moderate temps.  We got off to a relatively early start just above Oxbow Dam, following an old mining road that has been blocked from motorized used for the last ten years.

Looking back at Oxbow Dam
The overall grade was moderate and would make for a good mountain bike ride. Though it would be a long grind this early in the season.


Getting higher
We reminisced about hiking and fishing with the children as we walked up the old road.  This area brings back a lot of memories of hiking, hunting and fishing with our children.  Can anyone say bass-mass-con-tass?

The going was relatively easy, with the only difficulty crossing swollen Blue Creek.  But a tangle of old aspen branches allowed us to precariously cross the creek and stay dry.
First view of our peak - just to the left of center
As we moved up to the 4000' level, we spotted a few elk lounging around enjoying the sunshine.

Contemplating life

Tamara staying warm with the Oxbow behind her
We tucked out of the wind, stopping for lunch and enjoying the views of the "Oxbow" just before the final ridge.  Once on the summit ridge, we were treated to view of more elk out enjoying the sunshine.  In addition to all the elk, both whitetail and mule deer were abundant.

Summit ridge
We reached the summit of the aptly named Windy Ridge after about 3 hours.  It was sunny, cool and blowing 20 mph.  A gorgeous spring day!
Windy - 4653'

Happy folks almost ready to celebrate their 27th anniversary 

Looking north into the southern Seven Devils

Looking west to the Wallowas
We spent a few minutes on the summit before heading down the west ridge to make a small loop out of the hike.  Though a bit longer than I figured (and told my wife), it was a great spring day to be out with Tamara.

Stats:
Distance - 10.2 miles
Elevation - 3100 feet
Time - 6 hours



Monday, February 13, 2017

Winter Ascent of Copper Mountain - 10,303'

This last week has seen temperatures rise dramatically in southern Idaho, putting a damper on the excellent powder skiing we've had since late December.  Along with the high temperatures came rain to the lower elevations, further screwing up the skiing conditions.  Time for a climb!  A weather window was looking promising for Sunday, so John, Michael and I heading over to eastern Idaho to test our hiking legs by climbing an early season 10,000 foot peak.  Other than being above 10K feet, the reason that Copper Mountain was chosen was its close proximity (2 miles) to the highway.

As we made the 3 hour trip to Arco, Saturday afternoon, we were amazed at the amount of snow in the Camas Prairie and at Craters of the Moon NM. As we settled in for the night in our luxurious 3 bed motel room, we hoped that the snow wouldn't be too deep.

Luckily for us, the turn off to Long Canyon was snow free, allowing us to drive the two miles to the base of the route.  Surprisingly, the southern end of the Beaverheads had very little snow and the route to Copper did not look too difficult.  Not quite knowing what to expect, we loaded our packs with ice axes, crampons and snowshoes and were on our feet at roughly 7:30AM.
Copper Mountain is the peak to the left
The route follows mining roads for the first couple of miles before turning towards point 8555.  We put on our snowshoes early in the hike to stop the occasional post hole and made great time until a few hundred feet below point 8555.
John heading up the ridge

The southern Lemhi range 

John and Michael on one of the many mining roads

Heading up towards Point 8555

Self portrait with Diamond peak in the background
As we progressed upward, we encountered the dreaded Mountain Mahogany, which usually equates to agony of some sort.  In addition to the usual bushwhack through the mahogany, the snow changed from semi-solid to sun crusted with sugar underneath.  The agony began...
A large hole that John emerged from

Bushwhacking


Michael churning up with point 8555 behind him
Our progress slowed to a crawl.  The process was: lift one foot up, stand on the snow, have the snow collapse to shin depth, try not to slide backwards, lift the other foot up, try to stand on snow, have the snow collapse. Repeat.

Did I mention it was beautiful out?  Sunny skies and no wind, almost T-shirt weather.
One last bit of snow before the talus
As we bushwhacked through the mahogany, we moved back and forth on either side of the ridge in search of some consolidated snow.  For whatever reason, it was just not there.  So, with heads down, we plowed upward for the next 1200 feet at roughly 600 feet/hour.

At 9700 feet we finally reached the rock band below the false summit.  The talus, though loose, offered much better footing than the snow as we trudged toward the false summit at 10,000 feet.  By this time it was 12:30 and we had been at it for five hours.  With very tired legs, we plodded the final 3/4 mile to the summit.
Michael has never been so happy to be on loose rock


Michael and John with the summit of Copper Mountain behind them 

Almost there

All smiles for the summit shot
The weather was still spectacular at the summit as we chatted and fueled up for the hike back.  We had thoughts of making a small loop of the hike, but decided to play it safe and retrace our steps.

So after a short 20 minutes, we started back down.

The car (circled in red) is a long way down there
I'd like to say that the trip down was easier than the hike up, but as I sit here with aching legs a day later, I'm not so sure.  The sun had further affected the snow, and though the trail was broken, it was much more slippery than on the way up.   We all had our challenges on the way down with exhaustion causing multiple slips and falls in the snow.  There were multiple stops to ward off dehydration and replenish energy reserves, before we eventually reached the rig at 4:45.

It was a long grueling day, but it was with great friends and a gorgeous day!

Interesting limestone formations
Link to John's Trip Report: http://www.splattski.com/2017/copper/index.html

Stats:
Time: 9.5 hours car-car
Distance: ~ 9 miles
Elevation: ~4300 feet

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