Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, February 20, 2012

2nd Peak - Soldier Mountain

The President's Day Weekend was upon us and we didn't have anything planned together.  Tam was still a little injured from the Bull Trout trip last weekend and Dylan was off on a scout campout.  Ralph (Luddite) had posted something on IdahoSummits.com about skiing 2nd Peak on Sunday and I had the nerve to ask about it being an open invite.  He replied with, "The more the merrier."  With Tam basically telling me to get out of the house so she could get some school work done, it was on!

I met up with Ralph, Chris and Bob at the Soldier Mountain ski area on a gorgeous, sunny morning. A little after 9:00 we were heading for the ski lift.  Taking the lift is a real time saver, eliminating 1500 feet of climbing.  Can't beat that!

View of 2nd Peak (center) from the ski patrol hut
We stopped at the ski patrol hut to check in with the patrol before heading through the OB gate.  From this hut, you need to drop a couple of hundred feet down a hill before starting the ascent.  The tracks down this hill had been made by snow machines and were frozen and crusty.  In trying to pick up some speed to go as far as possible up the opposing hill, I caught an edge and took a hard header.  Dang that hurt!  After shaking off the cobwebs from the fall and swallowing my pride, I put my skins on with everyone else and we headed up. 

Chris charging up the hill

It was a great morning. When I rolled through Fairfield earlier the temperature was 6 degrees.  It was just as cold during the climb, but with the sun shining and little wind I was in my base layer in no timem sweating profusely.  Chris found a zone and was charging up the mountain leaving the three of us lagging back.  After an hour of us chasing Chris, he finally stopped so we could take a break and admire the views.  After Chris's run, it was Bob's turn to lead the charge up the hill with his splitboard.

Somehow I got in front of Bob and Ralph to take this photo
I was excited to be with these three guys. All three of them are big climbers and I wanted to see if I could keep up with the pace (I think I did). Also, after last weeks long tour with minimal skiing, I needed someone to show me the choice runs.  Since Ralph grew up in the area I figured I could learn a thing or two on places to ski.  Once we got through the trees the route opened up and became obvious.  As did the potential of the area.

Almost to the ridge
Looking back down

The summit is in view

Ralph showing great form

1st Peak and Big Bowl - wind scoured
 As we progressed up the mountain toward the summit, the clouds started building and the wind picked up.  We stopped just short of the summit of 2nd Peak for lunch and to make the transition from climbing to skiing.  Here I added a couple of ibuprofen to ease the shoulder pain from the header I took on the first hill.

Ralph's plan was to ski one of the step chutes in Big Bowl, but the snow looked a little dicey to me.  After hearing Chris tell Bob that the snow was crusty and that Ralph had made it down without a problem by doing jump turns, I knew it was way too much for me.  I headed to skiers left and found some decent powder by the edge of the trees and headed down to meet the other three in Big Bowl.

2nd lap!
Since the snow up top was a bit crusty we decided to stay in the trees for some additional powder shots.  Here we had boot top powder and great skiing.  So great in fact that we did a couple more laps. 

As we skied out I couldn't believe how many bonus powder shots we were getting.  Unlike most exits, where you're fighting crust and ice on the edge of a gully, this exit consisted of short runs in the shade that offered excellent skiing.
Looking back at our turns (first run in purple and laps in red)

 We finished up with a boot up a couple of hundred feet to the ski patrol shack before a long run down Soldier's groomed runs.  My legs were dead tired, my neck and shoulder were killing me, but I was stoked.  What a great day to be in the mountains with like minded skiers.
Thanks Ralph, Chris and Bob!

Trip Stats:
House to house - 12 hours
Car to car - 7 hours
Over 3000 feet climbed, 3 laps
Unlimited amount of smiles
A sore neck and shoulder

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bull Trout Backcountry Ski

I'd been hearing about the great skiing off of Bull Trout Point for the last year or so.  Every time you drive over Banner Summit you can see the mountain and the possible ski lines.  Dylan and I convinced Mom that she should get up before the crack of dawn and head out with us on another adventure.

The 2.5 hour drive was uneventful other than some thick fog between Idaho City and Lowman which slowed us down.  Luckily as we headed up toward Banner Summit the skies cleared.
Bull Trout Point is somewhere back behind this hill

All smiles at the start
 We quickly packed, put on our gear and hit the flats.  I had a topo of the area and we had a general idea on where we wanted to be, but having never hiked or skied here we were a little in the dark on where to go.  So, we followed some faint ski trail into the trees.  Unfortunately, the faint ski trail petered out and we were on our own.  We fought through the thick lodge pole pines to make the ridge after an hour or so.

Heading up out of the trees
Once we got on the ridge the sun was shining and it was pretty warm.  Ralph had told Dylan that he usually skied the north facing bowls off of this ridge.  When we looked over the edge we could understand why -  the snow looked great.  The only problem was that it was really steep and it looked like it would be difficult to get back up. I was concerned about the steepness and the possibility of starting a slide (even though the avy forecast was moderate) and expressed this to Dylan and Tam.  Tam gave us a flat out, "NO!  You're not skiing those lines!"  Oh well, time to continue on up to see if we could find something else.

On the ridge and in the sunshine
Heading higher
The problem was, we couldn't find anything else off the north side.  It was all a little too steep.  So after 3 hours of climbing we stopped to have some lunch at about 8800 feet and discuss our options.  At this point we were a little tired (at least Tam and I were) so we decided to just ski down through the trees on the south side through a large bowl.

The snow was nice and creamy through the trees and a little like spring skiing where the sun had been shining on it.  There was a little whooping and hollering going on as we exited the bowl into a wide drainage.
Dylan in the south bowl
The fun thing with these backcountry ski trips is the varying snow as you drop down in elevation.  Today we had mostly frozen corn type snow without much ice.  Dylan took the lead with Tam and I following.  Dylan took us through some areas that had tight intersecting gullies.  It seems like every time Tam hit one of these gullies her skis would pop off and down she'd go.  Once she came over a rise only to drop down onto a spring!  And what a spring it was, flowing water that had grass and mud around it!  Being the good husband that I am, I didn't take a picture of this crash, but did get a good laugh out of it.

Once out of the drainage we came to a wide flat area that would be a marsh in warmer temperatures.  The snow was still firm but we had to put our skins back on and break trail for a mile or so to get back to the car.  Extremely painful.

Once back at the car Tam showed us a large blister she had on her foot that had torn open during the slog.  But, being the trooper she is, not a curse word was uttered (to us) during the hike back.

Got to love her!
Tamara during a happier time that day
All told we were out for 6 hours, walked/climbed/skied for over 6 miles and gained 1800 feet elevation.  All to ski a little over 700 feet of vertical!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Sunday

This weekend has been good (sunny and warm) and bad (no snow).  With a Sunday afternoon and nothing to do (no skiing) Dylan and I took off for the Black Cliffs for a couple of hours of cragging.

Here is a time lapse that Dylan put together of the climbs.

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