Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sawtooth Loop - July 24-26

"Fantastic Lake"
I have always admired the backpacking trips Dave Pahlas (aka Super Dave) has taken over the years, so when he invited me to come along on a 3 day Sawtooth trip, I was all in.  Over the course of a couple of weeks we decided to make a loop around the Decker Peak area.

Grand Mogul from Redfish Lake
Friday morning I met up with Dave and his brother Ken for the 3 hour drive to Redfish Lake.  We then took the shuttle boat across the lake and were on the trail picking huckleberries by 10:30AM.  The first day’s plan was to hike the 092 trail south from Redfish Lake, make a side trip to climb Grand Mogul, and then continue on to a couple of small lakes southeast of Decker Peak.  We made quick time rounding the far end of Redfish Lake and climbing up to the 8200 foot level.  After a quick snack, we allowed Ken to read a book while Dave and I headed for Grand Mogul.

View of the Grand Mogul from our route
The “normal route” up Grand Mogul follows the northeast ridge, but trail 092 had taken us far from the start of this route to directly east of the summit.  We dropped down a steep hillside and then climbed up a steep hillside before entering a cirque at 8600 feet.  From here we boulder hopped our way up the southeast side of the mountain.  As we moved higher, we could make out several voices talking above us and figured they were on the normal route.  We eventually caught up with a couple of guys that were on their way up to the summit, and then met up with another guy from the same group who was on his way down.  What?

D Pahlas photo
After a couple of false starts up promising looking routes, we eventually found the correct ramp that took us to within 50 feet of the summit.  Here again we ran into the other two guys, who were struggling to find the correct line to the top too.  After realizing that they didn’t have a route to the top, we picked the one that we thought would go, and popped out on the 9733’ summit in another minute.  We took a couple of quick summit shots before the other two joined us on top.  
D Pahlas photo

With clouds threatening rain, Dave and I quickly moved down off the summit. As we moved down the mountain, we eventually met up with a total of 7 other guys who had previously summited.  As we moved further down, all we could hear from these guys was, “Rock!” being shouted every couple of minutes.  This just put a spring in our step to get away as quickly as possible.

As we met back up with Ken, the skies opened up with a brief rain shower.  After it passed, it was time to head down the trail.  Unfortunately, the trail meandered through the lodge pole pine for several miles not providing the normal stunning Sawtooth views.  We eventually reached Decker Creek, before the trail turned upwards.  Just before it dropped into Hell Roaring lake we turned west to hike cross country where we reached an unnamed lake at 8620’.  It was 7:00PM and I was tired.  We’d hiked over 8 miles, not including the side trip to Grand Mogul.

Our planned camping spot was still ½ mile away and another 600 feet higher, but the three of us agreed that this little lake would do for the night.
View of the "Huckleberry Wall" from camp in the morning 
After breakfast Saturday morning, we packed up and moved cross country to a pass that overlooked the Finger of Fate and the three lakes to the north.  This was my first view of the “Open Book” rock climbing route on the Finger and it looked Awesome!  Our object this morning was a climb of 10,579’ Dave’s Peak, a seldom climbed summit just to the north of the Sawtooth range’s second highest peak, Mt. Cramer.  Dylan and I climbed Cramer back in 2010. http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2010/08/above-imogene-lake-in-sawtooths.html>

Finger of Fate and the lower lake
The three of us traveled to the east of the Finger and moved up a string of three small lakes between 9400 and 9800 feet.  The second lake, nick-named, “Fantastic Lake,” by a friend of Dave’s the previous year, was indeed spectacular.  

We left Ken at the third lake and started up the southeast ridge of Dave’s Peak.  I could not take my eyes off the “Arrowhead,” which I imagine is one of the “teeth” in the Sawtooths. 
The "Birthday Cake" on the left and the "Coffin" on the right
"The Arrowhead"
The SE ridge of Dave’s Peak wasn’t too steep or loose and we made good time to approximately 10,400’.  Since this peak is seldom climbed there wasn’t much beta on a route, so we improvised.  We started up multiple routes, only to turn back when faced with something that didn’t look appealing.

Dave contemplating our route with Profile Lake below
Making my way up a narrow ramp (D Pahlas photo)
I eventually found a way up to a false summit and couldn’t stop jabbering about the cool looking “window” that was staring me in the face.  Dave dropped down the rock to join me staring out at the Cramer Lakes from this massive window.  

We traversed a couple of thin ramps before encountering a final steep move up to the summit.  Since the peak had Dave’s name written all over it, I allowed him the honor of summiting first.   Like the Grand Mogul, this peak provided plenty of route finding interspersed with a couple of airy class 4 moves.  Nice!

Dave making the final summit scramble
Summit shot (D Pahlas photo)
Cramer Lakes
One of the two goats we saw from Dave's Peak
Heading down
We enjoyed the views at 10,579 feet for a bit before carefully reversing our path down the mountain to rejoin Ken at the highest lake.  Here we split up, with Ken and Dave explored the lakes while I wanted to get a close up of the Finger of Fate’s Open Book route.  I spent 20 minutes watching a couple on the second pitch of the route before dropping down to the lower Finger of Fate lake to wait for others.

Dave surveying the lower Finger of Fate lake and Peak 9583
Once Dave and Ken arrived at the lake, Dave and I were off for our next objective, Peak 9583, just to our north.  There isn’t any beta on this rocky peak, though Dave mentioned reading in a book that the north face (which was directly above our camp Friday night) was called the Huckleberry Wall.  We climbed up to the saddle at 9260 feet where we left our packs that morning and started up the west ridge.  With a little over 300 feet to climb, this peak should have been a piece of cake. We tried to follow the west ridge, but were constantly forced to the north side due to unpassable rock.  The great part about the north side was that it had very loose rock and dropped down at a steep angle to a boulder field below!
The west ridge of Peak 9853 (D Pahlas photo)
Dave making the final scramble
We cautiously picked our way along the north side of the ridge, constantly running into what seemed like insurmountable obstacles.  But, each time we would find a way around these obstacles.  The crux of the climb started with a hidden ledge behind a small stand of scrub pines.  Once we squeezed by these trees, we used other scrub pines to pull ourselves up to be in position for the final 20 foot summit scramble. This last scramble was on solid rock, with a finish that allowed us to touch the summit one at a time.  Another excellent climb!

Dave and I each hanging on to the summit of Peak 9583
The steep climb to the summit
It took us a while to get off the summit and back to our packs.  By the time we made it down, Ken had already left.  So, we picked our way up to our camp for the night, an unnamed lake southeast of Decker Peak at 9400 feet.

We joined Ken at the lake at 7:00PM, pitched our tents and had a nice meal.  As we relaxed, we could see the couple who had been climbing the Open Book route on the Finger of Fate top out in the gathering darkness.  A great way to end another long day.

Like Saturday, we slept in Sunday morning and weren’t on our feet until 9AM.  Our goal today was to get out to a saddle below Decker Peak at 10,000 feet, drop our packs and climb Decker.  We also had the peak on the southern ridge, 10,375, as an additional climb if time allowed.  Once the climbing was done, we would drop down to join Ken at Cramer Lakes for the long march back to Redfish Lake.

Leaving camp
We're going where? (Decker Peak is upper right)
After a short rest Dave and I started up the north ridge of Decker.  The map showed this route to be an easy walk up to the summit.  But maps are deceiving, especially in the Sawtooths.  After an awesome 45 minute, class 3 rock scramble, we made the summit at 10,704 feet.  The summit had great views all around, including Dave’s Peak, and the large window we went by the previous day. 

Summit of Decker

Old summit register
Hmm, where did the time go?  It was now 11AM and we wanted to try and catch the 3PM boat at Redfish.  We still had 2300 feet to drop down to get to Cramer Lakes, so Peak 10,375 was out of the question.  We dropped back down the ridge to our packs, and then slowly made our way down the loose rocks in the cirque below Decker Peak.  After an hour, upper Cramer Lake came into view and a few minutes later we rejoined Ken at the middle Cramer Lake.  I, for one, was glad to be back on a trail!
Almost to Cramer Lakes
A look back at Dave's Peak
We ate our lunches while enjoying the beauty of the lake and waterfall before starting the 8 mile march back to Redfish Lake.  This “march” was uneventful other than we cruised back in 3 hours.  We didn’t make the 3PM boat, but the 5PM boat was early!

A beer and burger in Stanley finished off an excellent weekend with a couple of great guys.


larry szurgot said...

Holy Crap!!!!!!!!

Fadgen's Adventures said...

Larry, just trying to get in shape so I could stay up with you on the chukar hills!

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