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

1 comment:

larry szurgot said...

If man were supposed to get to the top of mountains like you guys climb, God would have given us either wings or chukar legs.

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