Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, March 23, 2015

North Twin (11, 081 ft) and Red Cone Peak (10,286 ft)

John heading up Red Cone Peak
John wanted to get out on Sunday and had North Twin Peak in the Lost River Range on his mind.  Failing to find anyone else to join us, the two of us were on the road at 4AM.  After a quick stop for some gas and a breakfast burrito, in Arco, we were on our feet in Elbow Canyon at 8:45AM.  Luckily, we were able to drive to the 7000 foot level before the snow blocked the road.  From here we continued on foot following some ATV ruts in the deepening, crusted snow.

The “road” terminated a mile and half later in an open meadow surrounded by 10,000+ foot peaks.  Here we turned west and started up a tree and snow covered ridge that would eventually lead us to Red Cone Peak at 10,286 feet.  
Red Cone Peak


Once on the ridge, the snow thinned for a while and we made good time.  But at the 8400 foot level, the bare ground disappeared requiring us to travel on the snow pack.  I’ll use the term “pack” loosely here, since every third or fourth step we would break though the so called “pack”.  It was after a half hour of this post holing that I turned to John and told him he made a mistake.  He should not have listened to me when I said let’s leave the snowshoes back in the truck!
Though a horrible picture, it illustrates the snow conditions
On the bright side, we only had to ascend another 1000 feet of this hell before we broke out on the talus ridge leading directly to Red Cone Peak.  It is hard to describe the snow conditions, but there were a couple of times where we had to crawl on all fours to try and stay on top of it. Fortunately, the final ridge was snow free – nothing but loose talus.  

After a slow slog up the talus ridge, were we on top of Red Cone, staring at our main objective, North Twin.
North Twin (left)
We took a short break to eat and drink a bit and admire the views.  Though there was a thin cloud cover, the temperature was relatively warm with only a whisper of wind.  With the energy draining snow conditions we were both a bit tired at this point.  I was thinking that it was going to be tough for us to get in the three peaks we had planned for the day, but figured I would see how I felt once on top of North Twin.
Ridge between the two peaks
The snow ridge between Red Cone and North Twin looked like it might be a bit spicy as we descended down from Red Cone.  We stopped and put on our crampons before traversing this thin ridge, but we crossed without so much as a heart flutter – the view from above was a bit deceiving.  Though the snow across the ridge was consolidated, as soon as we started up the remaining 1200 feet to North Twin’s summit we started punching through again.  After a quick stop to remove the crampons, we moved to our right to gain the exposed snow free ridge.
South Twin
Though out of the snow, we now had to deal with the LRR’s infamous talus.  But after the fun we had been having in the snow, the loose rock was a welcome relief.  

We slowly plodded upward, eventually gaining the summit at 1:30.  By this point, the thin cloud cover had dispersed, improving the lighting and our views.  After resting and eating again, John and I mutually decided that our third objective (Peak 10677) was out of the question. 
Heading down with Red Cone Peak in the background
On the descent, we dropped back down to the saddle between Red Cone and North Twin with the thought of a nice, long, butt glissade down the large snow filled north gully.  The snow had to be better right?
The glissade gully
Wrong!  Though John did eventually glissade a portion of it, I could not get more than a continuous 10 foot slide.  I would break through the 2” thick crust and sink into the sugary snow.  I spent the 1000 foot descent alternating between trying to glissade,  post holing up to my thighs while trying to walk and shouting F-bombs.   
I'm jealous!
I eventually met back up with John at the bottom of the gully and we mixed in little bushwhacking with the continued post hole hell for the next mile all the way back to the ATV trail.


We eventually made it back to the truck with our tails between our legs at 4:30 – completely drained but smiling nonetheless.  Though it had been a hard day, it was still a great day!

A look back on the drive out

John's trip report: http://www.splattski.com/2015/north_twin/index.html

Stats:
Distance:  7 miles
Elevation: 4300 feet
Time: 4:45 to summit, 7:45 car - car

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dickey Peak 11,141 Feet - The Tres Habaneros Route

Dickey Peak had been on my mind since John mentioned it a few weeks ago.  It had several things I was lacking in my life lately - altitude, snow, and adrenaline.  Knowing it was high on Michael's list, I sent them both an email on Monday suggesting we go for it.  A few emails later we had a plan.

Rather than do the typical 4AM start from Boise, we decided to head over to Challis on Friday afternoon and roughed it in a motel.  So, I put out a few emails to the large selection of Challis motels inquiring about a room for 3 guys.  I received the response from Deidra at the Northgate Inn saying she had a room with 3 queen beds at a great rate - Done!  Though Deidra wasn't much help on a restaurant selection, she definitely lived up to all the Trip Adviser reviews.  By the way, we had an unexpectedly fabulous burger at the Tea Cup Cafe and Bakery.

We rolled out of bed in the warm conference room (yes our room doubled as a conference room) at 6AM and were on our feet staring at Dickey Peak at 7:30.  Though it was a bit chilly at 25 degrees, we quickly warmed up as we marched across solid snow the two miles to Dickey's base.


Petros Peak 
Along the way, we discussed possible route options.  Since John had climbed Dickey via its north gully a few years prior, he suggested Michael and I select the route.  I liked the look of a large sweeping gully on the right (south) but as we got closer I suggested we modify it a bit by choosing a north (left) leaning gully that started on the south side. Michael seemed up for any route, as long as we stayed off the endless scree and it finished on top.

For the most part the snow was firm allowing us to make good time.


We stopped at 8500 feet to put on crampons and then continued on up.



As we turned left and started up the selected gully, a few fist sized rocks came whizzing past. Though the rocks missed us by a good 20 yards, I was wishing I'd brought along the helmet I had left back in the truck.
John surveying the many options
Once we reached the confluence of the three snow chutes, seen in the photo above, the route steepened and we had to make a decision.  The chute to the right looked like it was less steep, but the snow had a 2" wind crust over sugar, so it was a no go.  The center chute had some old wet slide debris and seemed solid, so it ended up being the choice.

The higher we progressed, the steeper it became.  The last 1000 feet didn't involve switching back across the face, it was just kicking steps, planting the ice axe and going straight up.  By this time we were in full sun, it was getting warm, and the snow was starting to get soft.  The route was a bit spicy, hence the name.
Michael, wondering when it will end.
With the ridge in sight, we angled to the left and gained this ridge at 10,400 feet.  From here it was only another 200 feet to the false summit or North ridge.
Glad to be on the spur ridge
Michael, glad to be on the ridge with John right behind
Our objective was only another 500 feet above the false summit.



The snow was extremely variable the rest of the way up.  A small portion would hold our weight, but this was interspersed with large patches of sugar snow under wind crust.  We gingerly picked our way along the ridge enjoying the views and reached the summit at noon.



There was a slight breeze on top, but after putting on our down coats we sat down to enjoy a leisurely lunch.


Now all we had left was the downclimb.  None of us were too keen on retracing our steep route down the chute, so we opted to come down the northern most gully.  We retraced our steps to the false summit before dropping into this gully.

The snow in this northern gully wouldn't support our weight at all, and we plunged to our shins with each step.  After stopping to remove our crampons, Michael tried a butt glissade.  Even though the snow was soft, he had no trouble maintaining a good speed.  Soon John and I joined him and we dropped 2000 feet in a short 10 minute span.


Our route - red is up, blue is down
Once out of this gully we stopped to retrieve the snowshoes we had stashed on the way up.  The temperature was now somewhere in the high 40s low 50s and the snow was becoming a sloppy mess. All that was left was the 2 mile trudge across this sloppy mess back to the truck.
"snow" shoeing!

John's trip report: http://www.splattski.com/2015/dickey/index.html


Stats:
Class: Spicy!
Distance: ~8 miles
Elevation: 4300 feet
Time: Summit - 4.5 hours, Car to Car - 7.5 hours

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