Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mt. Breitenbach Attempt - 12,140 Feet

Our planned ski area (Friday evening)
This past week there had been a little chatter on IdahoSummits.com about skiing the south face of Idaho's fifth highest peak.  I mentioned it to Dylan on Tuesday and he immediately said "I'm in. When?"

After the 3.5 hour drive from Boise on Friday afternoon, our objective in the spectacular Lost River Range came into view just as the sun was setting. Our first try to get to the trail head was on Upper Cedar Creek road, but we were turned back due to a snow drift.  We then took an alternative route that got us to within a 1/2 mile of the "trail" at Pete Creek.  We made a quick camp and hit the sack around ten with a planned wake up time at 5:45AM.

We woke to clear skies and little wind with temps hovering around freezing.  We had a quick bite to eat, shouldered our packs and headed up in the dark.
Packs ready to go
Since we had never been up Pete Creek we had little to go on other than some terrible descriptions that John Platt had given in some of this previous trip reports.  (http://www.splattski.com/2004/end_of_summer/index.html and http://www.splattski.com/2007/breitenbach/index.html)

In one of these TR, he uses the phrase, "flood ravaged stream bed," which if you added rotten snow to the description would detail our trip through the lower canyon.  We were hoping to make quick time up this lower section, possibly even skin it.  Since it hadn't gotten too cold the night before, the snow hadn't frozen much resulting in a lot of post holing.  This was the best kind too, where you took several steps before the snow collapsed and you sank to your thigh! We took two hours of this fun before we reached a point at 8500 feet where we could finally put our skis on.

Dylan enjoying himself

Looking down Pete Creek
Still wishing we had our skis on our feet!
The White Knobs across the valley
With our skis on we quickly progressed up the canyon hoping to get into the sun.  Though it wasn't too cold at camp, it was very cold in this canyon.  Ice was forming in our water bottles - which were in our packs!
After another 45 minutes or so we curved to the left and our objective came into view.  Well, not the actual summit, but a false summit.  Breitenbach was another 1/2 mile behind this summit.  If we could only get in the sun!
Finally after another 20 minutes of skinning we stopped for a breather in the sun at around 10,000 feet.  As we were eating, several small rocks started careening down towards us, with one actually smacking into my pack which was at my feet.  At this point the helmets were put on.

Here is a short video of the beautiful placed we stopped:


We both commented how good we were feeling at this point, 3 hours into it.  We continued to skin up on the hard snow, admiring the views all around us.  After another hour we reached a point where Dylan was having a bit of trouble slipping, so he decided to start booting.  My skins were working great, so I continued up another couple of hundred feet before I transitioned.
Rather than keeping to the right and trying to obtain the ridge through a shallow bowl I had the idea of heading straight up next to a band of scree.  Dylan, being the animal that he is, didn't talk me out of it.  So up we went.
and up...

and up...

This face had been in sun since 8AM or so and it was now past 11AM.  It was very soft at this point.  Dylan did a masterful job of leading the way, but there were several places where he sank to his thighs and I sank to my waist.  With us being at a 45 degree angle, trying to get our feet under us on some solid snow took a bit of effort.

After what felt like an hour we gained the ridge at 11,800 feet.  Only another 1/2 mile and 400' to go to the summit.  We stopped and dropped our skis and had a quick bite.  It was a little after 1PM at this point (Where had the time gone?) and we had planned a 2PM turn around time. 

Dylan took off up the ridge while I slowly followed. 

Dylan leading the way up the summit ridge.  Breitenbach is the on the left.

I didn't have much energy left after the steep climbing we had just finished. With the prospect of further post holing along the 1/2 mile summit ridge, and concerns about the steep ski descent, I called Dylan back and told him I didn't have the energy to make it to the summit.  He turned back, and we dropped down to our skis to prepare for the descent.
Our wide open, steep ski run
A not quite summit Splattski
The turns on the upper part of the mountain were tense and tough.  Steep terrain and hard packed snow, but we made the most of them.  Once down the first 800 feet we had some great corn, allowing for more relaxing turns.
Our turns
We hooted and hollered our way down the mountain, stopping to film ourselves along the way. Here is a short video:  

Before we knew it we were back at the rock where we had stashed our hiking boots at 8,500 feet.  3,300 feet of skiing the south face of Mt. Breitenbach!  Little did we know the fun was about to begin.  Dylan was determined to ski down Pete Creek as far as he could and I sheepishly followed.
Dylan looking for more fun
Pete Creek's finest
We were able to make our way down several hundred vertical feet more without killing ourselves until it became too dangerous to continue.  So we loaded the skis on our backs and started down.  By this time the snow was completely rotten and the goal was to not slip off a log or rock and break a leg.  
When will the misery end?
After an hour of struggling through the "creek," the truck finally came into view.  That last 1/2 mile was a bugger.

Even though we didn't make the summit, we had a blast on our first Lost Rivers trip of 2013.

Stats:
Time - 9 hours
Distance - 9 miles
Elevation Gain - 4400'

1 comment:

georgeo said...

nice work boys. Love that part of the world. best regards george grader

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