Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mount Heyburn - 10,229 Feet

Mount  Heyburn is supposedly one of the classic Sawtooth Mountain climbs.  It has a long approach, a bit of scrambling, then finishes with two pitches of 5.4ish climbing up the Stur Chimney.  Our original plan was to leave early Sunday morning but Dylan talked me into heading over Saturday night so we could get some extra sleep.  Past trip reports as well as conversations with others told us that this was going to be a long day.

We arrived at Redfish Lake at 11PM, and after pitching the tent, we were asleep by 11:30.  We had a moderately good night’s sleep (we were just short of being cold) and we were up and hiking by 8:30.  In hindsight we should have gotten an earlier start.

Rather than start at the normal Bench Lakes trailhead, we started up by Redfish Lodge and took the Sean shortcut that Super Dave told me about.  We had hiked the Bench Lakes trail last summer (http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2011/07/bench-lakes-ski-trip-in-july.html) and today cruised up to the first lake in short order.  It seemed like the trail to the upper lake was a little more marked than last summer and we gained the upper lake as storm clouds started moving in from the west.
Upper Bench Lake
After refilling our Nalgene bottles from the lake (great tasting algae water!) we headed up the steep scree slope to the first saddle.  At about three quarters of the way up to the saddle the rain started.  We found a large boulder under the Petzold Coulior and hunkered down, donned our $0.98 throw away ponchos, and ate lunch. 

I figured we would wait a half hour before we called it a day, but we stuck it out, and after an hour the skies cleared somewhat.  We headed up to the saddle where we could look out west and get a clear view of future weather.  Although the wind was blowing, the skies were relatively clear, so we continued on up.

This saddle took us to the west side of Heyburn and we progressed up to another saddle between Heyburn and the West Pinnacle.  Here we could see our objective, the Stur Chimney. 

The Stur Chimney
The trip report on Summitpost was vague on how to get to the chimney.  It mentioned scrambling up to a ledge.  We could see where we needed to be, but didn’t see an obvious route.  So we selected a route to the right of the chimney that looked good, hoping to find a ledge that would lead us over to where we needed to be.  Our planned route didn’t work out. 
Looking up our route that didn't work out

After a bit of down climbing with a short rappel thrown in, we found the ledge we needed.   Here we put on our climbing shoes and helmets and ditched the packs.

Setting the first anchor

At this point it was 3PM.  Where did all the time go?  Dylan wondered out loud if we should call it a day because of the time.  I had been thinking the exact same thing and voiced it to him.  We looked at each other and then the clear weather, and decided to at least head up to the first belay station.  I figured if we were off chimney by 5PM we would be good. 
Ready to go!
It was a given that Dylan would lead and I would follow up and clean.  He set the first belay anchor, we tied in, and he was off on the first pitch.   After a short 10 minutes or so he had reached the first belay station, an alcove below a huge chockstone.  After he was off belay I started up.  Although the granite was crumbly in places with lots of small loose rocks, the climbing was relatively easy with plenty of hand and foot holds.  The first portion required a stemming move (it is a chimney after all) and as I performed this I realized that I had a Gatorade bottle in my small summit pack.  Nothing like trying to move up with a large plastic bottle jabbing you in the back!

After a couple of minutes, I joined Dylan at the alcove and we were all smiles.  This was a blast!

Looking down

Looking up
The second pitch’s first move was a little airy as it required a move out to the right of the chockstone.  Dylan handled it like a pro and was soon yelling down to me that it was my turn to head up.  Without looking down, I moved right and above the chockstone and was soon cruising up to the final anchor point.  After few moves I stopped to take a couple of photos and then continued up where I joined Dylan for smiles and high fives.

We then each took turns climbing the last 10 feet to the summit while on belay for these summit shots. As you can see I didn’t feel the need to stand on the small pinnacle.

At this point it was 4:30 and it didn’t look like we would be down by 5.  Oh well, we were way too happy to be concerned at this point.  After a quick call home to Tam, we made the three rappels down to our packs. 
Here we changed back into hiking boots for the last rap, using this small tree as the anchor point.

Once down, we made another quick call to Tam to let her know we were safely off the climbing portion and beginning our decent.

The decent was uneventful. As we quickly cruised down, all we could talk about was what great adventure this was to tackle our first Sawtooth climb and how hungry we were.  The goal was to make it back to Redfish Lodge before they closed.  At the turn off of Sean’s shortcut, we had to turn on our headlamps and walk the last 15 minutes to the lodge in the dark.  It was a little after 8:30PM, the lodge  hadn’t closed yet, and we enjoyed a cheeseburger and fries before making the drive home.

Trip stats:
Mileage – about 10
Vertical – about 4000
Car to Car time: 12 hours.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bozeman, Montana - Sphinx Mountain

Since Taylor started school at Montana State University two years ago (wow how time flies!) we have driven to Bozeman about 10 times.  Each time we take the drive we pass by a great looking peak in the Madison Range just north of Yellowstone . After a little research we found out it is called Sphinx Mountain with an elevation of 10,876 feet.

Dylan and I had planned on climbing it last Memorial Day but the weather wasn't cooperating and it snowed all weekend.  Even with the Idaho forest fires covering the area in a blanket of smoke we figured this would be our chance.

Taylor and Dylan relaxing at Montana Ale Works
After spending some time with Taylor and Tam on Saturday we headed out early on Sunday morning.  Unlike a lot of our Idaho climbs, we were at the trail head in an hour and a half.  Can't beat that.  Also unlike our Idaho climbs, we were greeted with the following sign:

We had come prepared though - Taylor had lent us her bear spray.  Luckily, we didn't need it.

There was a great trail leading up from Bear Creek and we made quick time in the cool, albeit smoky morning. 

Our objective through the smoke

In a little less than 3 hours we had covered the 5 miles to a saddle with "The Helmet" and started following a climbers trail up a broad gully on Sphinx Mountain.
Dylan with the Helmet behind him
The climber's trail made its way up the scree and moss covered gully. 

The climbing wasn't difficult and in another hour we had reached the summit at 10,876 feet.  The wind had been blowing on our way up and the air had cleared considerably.  With the wind came the cold, and we put our jackets on to eat lunch and admire the views.

With the wind blowing we didn't stay on the summit long.  The trip down went very quickly and we were back at the car a little over two hours later.

Looking back on the way down.
Mileage - ~12 miles
Elevation - ~4600 feet
Car to Car Time - 6 hours

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