Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lemhi Mountains Weekend!

John Platt approaching the summit of Bear Mountain

It had been almost two years since I had been climbing in the Lemhi range.  My last trip here was in 2013, when we had a blast on the Idaho Outdoor film shoot http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2013/07/party-in-lemhi-mountains.html . When Dan proposed having the IdahoSummits spring outing in the Lemhis, we just had to make it a long weekend.

After four dozen emails we had a plan – Dan, Tom Lopez, John Platt and I would travel together and  climb peaks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

There was plenty of lively conversation as we traveled the 200 miles from Boise to Howe, Idaho. Just before Howe we turned off onto Eight Mile Canyon, a rough dirt road that would take us to our first peak of the weekend - Jumpoff Peak. We followed the right fork of Eight Mile Canyon until we reached a saddle at 7600 feet. After a short debate, we opted to park the truck and make a short hike up the remainder of the road rather than drive it.
Jumpoff Peak from the truck
Making good time on the "trail'
In a little less than an hour, we were below a large radio tower, which turned out to not be the summit. After a quick wave to a few people eating lunch on their ATVs under the radio tower, we headed over to the true summit.
John and Tom approaching Jumpoff Peak
Dan at Jumpoff Peak
It was a bit windy at the top, so after a few photos it was back down the road retracing our path. Once back at the truck, we drove the majority of the way to our next "peak" - Howe Peak. It, too, had a road to the radio tower cluster on top. So to be able to truly claim a summit, we parked 300' below and marched straight on up for our second peak of the day.

All told, we hiked a little less than 6 miles and gained over 1800 feet for the day. Not a bad way to stretch the legs before the group outing the next day.

Bell Mountain on the way to Summit Campground
We pulled into the meeting spot, Summit Campground, a little before 5PM and were greeted by Grant and Alicia Brill, the first two arrivals for the Spring Outing. After quickly unloading the truck, Dan, Grant, Alicia and I each grabbed a beer and headed out for a short scouting/wood collection trip. The original plan had been climb Bear Mountain from Big Gulch, but Dan had spotted a possible route closer to camp while "working" Thursday afternoon. As we gathered firewood in Summer House Canyon, we verified that Dan's chosen route should work.

That night, 16 of the 18 people to eventually hike the next morning, showed up. We all enjoyed a good time around the campfire meeting new friends and getting caught up with old ones. With a promise to be out of camp in the morning at 8AM, we stragglers finally called it a night around 11PM.

Saturday morning dawned clear with no wind, and it looked like it would be a good day! True to our word, all 18 people, stuffed into five rigs, proceeded up Summer House canyon a little after 8AM. After Dan's group photo, we all loaded up and sauntered up the two track.

At 8200 feet we turned East and started up the ridge to Peak 10112, our first objective of the day. Though we could see snow on the ridges, the conditions were unknown. It was an individual decision on what gear to take, so there was a mixture of snowshoes, crampons, ice axes and ski poles being carried up that morning.

As in past outings, the group quickly spread out. The Brills lead the charge while the majority of us clustered in smaller groups chatting as we grunted up the ridge.  
Bear Mountain

Luckily, the route was relatively snow free, and other than a bit of loose rock close to the summit, pretty straightforward. Other than Grant and Alicia, who were already on their way to Bear Mountain, the rest of the group took a short break on top of peak 10112 to admire the views.

Bear Mountain from Peak 10112
After this short break, the group again slowly split up as we dropped the 500 feet to the saddle between the two peaks. Here we started running into snow, and it wasn't good snow. John and I, remembering our postholing fiasco a couple of weeks earlier on North Twin http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2015/03/north-twin-11-081-ft-and-red-cone-peak.html, had played it safe and brought snowshoes. After a few knee deep postholes, we stopped, put them on, and continued.
Heading down in the soft snow
John, Jordan (who also had snowshoes) and I stayed on the snow covered the ridge and cruised with little effort. The others, without snowshoes, did their best to stay off the snow on the southwestern side of the ridge.

Basically, everyone found their own way across the interconnecting ridge. As we started up the ridge to Bear Mountain I spied our speedsters, Grant and Alicia, traversing a high snowfield. This was the first time I had seen them since we had started.
Grant and Alicia at 20x zoom
J. Platt photo
As we made our way higher towards Bear, the wind started picking up and clouds blocked the sun. At 10,200 feet and about a half mile from the summit, we removed our snowshoes and strapped them back on our packs. The ridge was becoming a little narrow at this point, and snowshoes would make it a little too dangerous. Just ahead of us, we could see Mark and Kyle traversing the ridge. It looked like it would be a lot of fun!

Mark and Kyle
Bear Mountain's eastern ridge
John, Jordan and I just followed Mark and Kyle's footprints, up, down and around the ridge. There were a few spots that had a little exposure, but only enough to raise the heart rate a tad. After 15 minutes or so, we joined Grant, Alicia, Mark and Kyle on the summit. Here we all hunkered down out of the wind and over the next 20 minutes were joined by the remainder of the crew.

The down climb was highlighted by a series of glissades down an avalanche chute filled with small trees and thin snow over rocks and branches. Though I was lucky enough to not hit anything, a couple fellow butt glissaders were not so lucky! Eventually we all made it back to the vehicles for celebratory beers!
Peak 10112 on the right and Bear on the left
Once back in camp everyone said their goodbyes and most left with the exception for the four of us, plus Grant, Alicia and Eric. That night we enjoyed some excellent buffalo burgers by chef Tom Lopez followed by some brownies.

We were all a little slower Sunday morning and were still undecided on what to climb. The night before some were talking about a big climb, while others were hoping for a smaller climb. After chatting about it over breakfast and while breaking camp, we finally decided on Hawley Mountain. The deciding factor was Tom graciously offering us the chance for the climb, since he had climbed this peak at least twice before.

Hawley Mountain sits in the middle of the Lost River Valley just west of Diamond Peak and Bell Mountain. Since it sits in the valley by itself, it has over 2K of prominence and was high on Dan's list.
Hawley Mountain
With Tom staying back guarding the food and beer, Grant, Alicia, John, Dan and I started up the sagebrush slopes at 8:45 AM. I was feeling pretty good for some reason (maybe the sugar laced instant oatmeal, multiple pastries, and coffee?) and walked and chatted with Grant and Alicia. We quickly made our way through the trees and up on to the loose rocks of the east ridge.
Alicia and Grant on Hawley

The three of us topped out on Hawley Mountain (Elv 9752) at 10:10 AM. After a leisurely snack we were joined by John and Dan for the cruise back to the truck.
Lounging (G. Brill photo)
Here we said goodbye to the Brills and started back home over Pass Creek. We gawked at the peaks in this area as the skies opened up with rain. Though the peaks were obscured by the rain, I'll definitely be back in this area.

We stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument for our last peak. Just across from the visitors center is a high spot called Sunset Cone. With Dan compiling the music playlist, John, Tom and I ran up this 400 foot "peak" in a little over 15 minutes for my 6th peak of the weekend.

All told we hiked over 15 miles and gained 7500 feet. Not a Herculean effort, but not too shabby either.

A great long weekend with great old friends and a bunch of new ones!

1 comment:

larry szurgot said...

Barb and I were looking through your posts and noticed that most of the pictures with snow had no human tracks ahead of your crew. Obviously you guys are the first up that particular mountain this year. Just wondering if you guys have ever looked up the meaning of sanity. Just wondering.

Stay young guys.

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