Dylan and I have become pretty good friends with some folk we have met via the Internet and attended the latest bi-annual gather this past Saturday - the 2013 IdahoSummits.com Spring Outing. A couple of obscure peaks in the Pioneer range called Rosencrance (10,273) and West Rosencrance (10,380’) were selected based on an online poll. We rolled into the campsite around 8:30PM Friday night after a 4 hour drive and greeted some old friends (Dan, John P, Steve W, Margo, Steve M, George, Michael, Julie and Leslie). Our buddy Steve Weston cooked up some grub from his cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/In-The-Wild-Chef-Recipes/dp/1927458064). The spaghetti carbonara was fabulous, especially after the KFC we had consumed on the drive over. As we sat around the campfire having a few adult beverages and swapping lies, we were joined by a half dozen newbies (Todd, Deb, Ryan, Tori, Wes and Mark), for a total of 17 folks anxious to climb the following morning.
Saturday morning was sunny, relatively windless and reasonably warm as we started up the hill. It was quite a sight watching 17 people trudging up the hill. More than one of us wondered out loud what others might think as they drove by.
It wasn’t long before we hit the snow and almost immediately started postholing. The snowshoes were then put on allowing us to progress upward with minimal problems.
We all moved at our own pace as we progressed up the 3200 feet to the first summit at 10,273. Soon the majority of us were enjoying lunch while gawking at the promised extraordinary views.
|The view of the Pioneers from the summit|
After a half hour or so we all decided to head over to the second peak via a long connecting ridge. Dylan volunteered to shuttle us from the exit point back to the parking area (about 1.5 miles between the two) so after stocking up on goodies from whomever would give something away, he quickly hit the connecting ridge to the next peak. His plan was to run over, touch the top and then come back down the way we had come up. The rest of us would travel down a different route.
The snow had melted on the south side of the interconnecting ridge making for easy traveling and everyone quickly progressed to peak 10,380. Here we stopped to eat and gawk a little more. The afternoon was phenomenal, with a little bit of a breeze but sunny and warm. Unfortunately, as Frosty knows, sun and snow don’t mix too well.
The walk back down the mountain was tough. As we started down, we quickly had to don snowshoes to minimize the postholing, but after a bit even the snowshoes couldn’t keep us on top of the snow. Finally Michael and I took turns barreling through, creating a route through the knee to thigh deep sugary snow.
Fortunately the snow wasn’t too thick, and after what felt like an hour of trudging, we were back at the road with the promised shuttle driver waiting there to move people back to their vehicles. He had beaten us down by over an hour.
That evening was spent around the fire again accompanied by a few adult beverages and some more great food. But unlike Friday night, everyone hit the sack by 10PM with different plans for the next day.
Elevation Gain: 3800 feet
Distance: ~7 miles
Sunday - Mt Breitenbach
We woke up at 5AM Sunday morning and quietly broke camp. With the early morning temperature above freezing, we were concerned that the snow on Breitenbach might be as bad as it was during our climb yesterday. We needed to travel about 30 minutes to Upper Cedar Creek road to reach the dreaded Pete Creek. We struggled for a bit trying to find the trail head through the maze of roads and after 15 wasted minutes we finally arrived at 6:30. With packs on we hit the trail at 6:45.
We had an unsuccessful summit bid, but a great ski on Mount Breitenbach back in (http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2013/03/mt-breitenbach-attempt-12140-feet.html) March, where Pete Creek kick our butt. Today was going to be redemption.
We quickly progressed up the Pete Creek drainage and didn't encounter any snow until we were above treeline at 8800 feet. This was after 45 minutes. Back in March this had taken a couple of hours.
|View down Pete Creek back on March 17th.|
|Dylan standing in almost the same spot - we still weren't really in the snow|
Once on the snow we put on our crampons. Surprisingly, the snow was hard and fully supported our weight. Feeling great, we scooted up the snow field as the wind picked up and the skies started darkening. With the wind and clouds came the cold temperatures, but we were liking it since it kept the snow from softening.
We made the 10,000 foot mark in another hour and took a quick break. I was a little surprised by how good I was feeling after climbing 3800 feet the day before.
At roughly 11,000 feet, we made the decision to go straight up the face rather than take the easier, but long route to climber’s right. Last time we made the same decision and the soft snow killed us.
|Dylan heading up the face|
Dylan led the way up the steep face, alternately kicking steps and front pointing depending on the snow hardness. With us not sinking in, we made the false summit at 11,800 by 10:30. We were cruising, but so were the clouds. The wind was really whipping by this time and it was getting a little dark out west.
|Summit "view" from just below the false summit|
|False summit "Splattski"|
The 1/2 mile knife edge ridge separating the false from the actual summit looked a little tougher that than it had the previous month. The east side was corniced and the west side still had quite a bit of snow. But we were both feeling good and decided to take it slow.
We had a couple of spicy sections where we had to down climb some steep snow while closely watching our foot placement. But other than that, we alternated between following the faint trail in the scree and walking on the snow and reached the summit at 11:15AM.
|Down climbing a "spicy" section|
|Cruising along the ridge|
After a high five, a hug and a few quick photos and we started down to get out of the wind.
Going back, the spicy sections weren’t too bad and in no time we were off the ridge and plunge stepping our way down the less steep left drainage.
|Heading back down the ridge|
The climb down through Pete Creek wasn't too bad and we were back at the truck by 1:45.
Total time: 7 hours
Altitude: 4500 feet
Distance: 6 miles