Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Buttercup Mountain - 9079'


I’ve passed by Buttercup Mountain many times on my way along highway 20 east of Fairfield and always liked the look of the peak.  Trips near it, Liberal Mountain last year, and Peak 8562 a couple of weeks ago, have really upped my interest level.  I was hoping to get out for it this spring while there was still a bit of snow left and when John Platt texted asking if he and Dave Pahlas could join me for the climb - it was on.


Buttercup just from the truck
The forecast for Sunday was a 50% chance of precipitation and a little wind.  I met up with John and Dave for the short two hour drive from Boise.  They had both climbed a peak south of Winnemucca Nevada on Saturday and hadn’t gotten back to Boise until after 10PM.  I was thinking this would be good for me as they should be a little slow and I’d be able to keep up with their pace.  As we wound are way through Willow Creek, John and Dave got their first close up view of the East ridge of Buttercup, the proposed route.

 
Because of some private property, the plan was to take an indirect route to the base of the summit rather than follow Cherry Creek.  Dan and I had walked a large portion of Cherry Creek a few weeks back and it was clear of the usually thick willows due to last summer’s Beaver Creek fire.  When mapping the proposed route on Topo!, there were a few places where we would need to drop down a few hundred feet into a draw before starting to climb up again.  I just looked at it as a method to get some additional elevation gain.  This was all well and good until we actually laid eyes on the route.  But like I pointed out to the guys with the tired legs, this was going to be an adventure.


It's just around the corner somewhere

 
John heading up (D. Pahlas photo)

After a steep climb out of the first draw we noticed a small herd of elk watching us.  Being intelligent guys, we eventually figured out that we should just follow the elk tracks.  After all, elk seem to try and minimize their up and down movement as much as possible.  So that’s what we eventually did, got on the elk trail, which led us around the draws and right to where we wanted to be – at the headwaters of Cherry Creek and the base of the peak.  It had taken us a little over two hours to reach this point and other than some occasional clouds and a bit of wind we were enjoying the sunshine and views.
On the elk trail (D. Pahlas photo)

Head of Cherry Creek
At this point we had traveled 4 miles and only “gained” 1200 feet.  We still had 2000 feet to go to the summit.  After a bit of discussion on route selection we headed up the ridge to climbers right of the north fork of Cherry Creek (Southeast ridge). 

Climbing up to the SE ridge
Which way should we go?
We could have picked a slightly better route, but this was an adventure after all.  The nice sandy slope we had walked on for the first 4 miles quickly became full of talus as we progressed up the ridge. 
Crappy rock (D. Pahlas photo)
The rock quality was very crumbly with it literally breaking off in your hand.  After one tight spot where we had to down climb 40-50 feet to get around a drop off on the crumbly ridge, we quickly gained the main summit ridge. 
 
A bit stuck here (D. Pahlas photo)


 
We stopped a few hundred feet below the summit to get out of the wind and enjoyed a leisurely lunch in the fading sunshine.  The views were spectacular in all directions, though there was a storm approaching from the west.

View of the summit from the SE ridge
Looking back to where we came from.
 
 
The last few hundred feet was a straightforward walk up and we gained the summit around 1:15, after 3.5 hours of hiking.

Summit shot!
 Once on top, the clouds moved in and the wind picked up.  After hugs, high fives and a couple of photos, we quickly dropped down the southwest ridge with the plan of making a loop out of the trip.  Once off the summit we were fully engulfed in the storm winds and stinging graupel. 
Storm coming our way
Fully engulfed! (D. Pahlas photo)
Cool burned out tree remains
D Pahlas photo
Combined with the loose rock, this spring storm made the climb down the ridge a fun endeavor.  As the visibility diminished, Dave took over the orienteering duties and kept us true to the ridge to try and minimize any additional elevation gain.  After dropping down 1500 feet or so, the storm cell passed and we could see the path down.

Looking back at Buttercup
 We arrived at the truck a little after 3PM in the sunshine.

It's only another mile back to the truck (D. Pahlas photo)
Trip Stats:
Distance: ~ 9.5 miles (My GPS batteries died halfway down)
Elevation: 4300 feet (per J. Platt's GPS)
Car to Car: 6.5 hours




Sunday, April 20, 2014

Miners Peak



Trailhead view of our objective
Last week John Platt had sent me a great picture of a big snowfield on Pollack Mountain and all I could do during the week was dream of skiing it.  But due to all the snow, we couldn't get to the trailhead - bummer.

The alternative plan was to climb to a lookout on Miners Peak, deep in the South Fork of the Salmon River mountains.  Though it looked like a big day, I talked Dan into joining us for a little training hike.  We left Boise at a little after 6 and met up with John and Julie Platt at the turn off to Warm Lake right at 8AM.  Once they climbed into the truck, we took off for the winding hour long drive to the trailhead at Reed Ranch.  We were on our feet and moving at 9:30 in fabulous conditions.

You can just make out the lookout on the right
The hike started at roughly 4000 feet, and after crossing the river we followed an ATV trail for the first mile.

Tamara heading out with snowshoes on her back

Crossing the South Fork of the Salmon
Once beyond the ATV trail we turned up on a well marked trail.  Someone had recently ridden the trail on a motorcycle and cut away the deadfall that had fallen across the path.  Unlike the "trail" to White Rock Peak in the same area ( http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2014/03/white-rock-peak.html ), this was a welcome relief.


The trail stayed on the south side of the ridge keeping it snow free for the first 1500 feet.  We made reasonably good time even though we did stop for a couple of union breaks along the way to remove layers and have a bite to eat.  Once we reached 6000 feet we hit constant snow and were surprised to find it holding our weight even though it was relatively warm.  Unfortunately, this didn't last too long so we strapped on the snowshoes and continued upward.

Tamara all smiles in her new shell
The trail meandered through the trees not allowing us to see our objective until we were about 1500 feet from the summit.  You can just make it out on the photo below.

Getting closer


John contemplating the route to the top
For the most part we followed a well worn trail and an obvious ridge as we moved up.  We eventually came to a small bowl where you could just make out the trail cutting across it.  Since I was leading at this point, I decided to not follow the longer trail but rather headed up a steeper ridge with several large boulders.  As the route turned steeper still, John had caught up and he moved forward, up and over a small cornice to the summit ridge.

Heading up the steeper section

John leading us over the summit ridge.

The final 50 yards
Upon reaching the lookout, we searched in vain for a spot out of the wind to have lunch. We settled on a spot only slightly out of the wind, but in the sun, on the rocks seen below.  We spent close to an hour here - talking, eating and lounging in the sun.  But with the clock ticking  - it was 3PM after all - we loaded up and started back down.

Other than the snow becoming slushy and making the decent of the steeper sections a little slippery, the trip down was long and uneventful.  We finally arrived back at the truck around 5:30PM and were all a little beat from the great day.
Dropping off the summit ridge




Stats:
Mileage - Approximately 12
Elevation - Approximately 4000 feet
Car to Car Time - 8 hours










Monday, April 7, 2014

24th Wedding Anniversity

Today is Tamara and my 24th wedding anniversary (woot woot!) and in keeping with the theme this year we thought we'd celebrate it with an outing.  The plan was a Saturday Copper Mountain BC ski followed by a night at the Sun Valley Lodge and skiing Baldy on Sunday.

As we approached Banner Summit Saturday morning we were greeted with an intense snow squall that seemed to drop a couple of inches of snow in a 15 minute span.  But as we parked in a surprising empty turn out the snow had stopped, allowing us to prepare at our leisure.

We progressed uphill in 3" of fresh powder, anticipating first tracks on the south face.  The weather alternated between snow and sunshine - a typical Idaho spring day!


The views from up high were great and the sun stayed hidden behind the clouds long enough to maintain the snow quality.


The turns were excellent and we did indeed get first tracks.

The sun finally showed itself for good during lunch.

With the sun, came the crowds.  As we started up for our second lap we were joined by 8, yes 8, other people!  But despite the crowds we did get in that second lap which was almost as good as the first.

After a bit of bushwacking on the way down, we were on our way to Sun Valley.

We had a great meal at Il Naso, in Ketchum, with some celebratory wine, followed by a great night's sleep in the lodge.  We both complained a bit about our legs being sore Sunday morning, but there was no need to put on skins and hike uphill as the gondola awaited us at River Run.

The weather Sunday was sunny with a stiff breeze blowing, but the skiing up high provided excellent spring conditions.  The skiing down low offered an assortment of mashed root vegetables - make your own choice.

Considering the bare hills on the south facing slopes the coverage was surprisingly good, as were the turns.


The views of the Pioneers were also fantastic!

We spent the better part of the day trying to ski all the runs at Baldy and put in a pretty good effort.  But by 3PM we called it quits and headed in to Hailey for a late lunch before heading home.

A great way to spend the weekend with the love of your life and I sure hope the next 24 years will be as good as the first 24!

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