Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jerry Peak(s)

A couple of weeks ago Dan inquired if I was up to getting out on a 10,000 foot peak over the holidays.  I was definitely up for it.  After some hemming and hawing we picked Friday and set off at 4:30AM with Dan, John, Dylan and myself for the 4 hour drive to north of Mackey. 

NOAA had been saying the weather would be clear and in the low 40's for Friday.  As I drove through Mackey in the pre-dawn dark, with three guys snoring in my ear, the truck thermometer read 2 degrees! 

Since the Willow Creek camera showed a couple of inches of snow on the ground, we all brought our snow shoes.  But, as the sky brightened it looked like we probably wouldn't need them.

Our original plan was heading up Howell Creek, but we were stopped by several No Trespassing signs.  John pulled out my state topo map book (yes, I know it's useless, but it does help) and found an alternate route up Burnt Canyon.  This route took us up to 7800 feet but quite a ways away from our objective of Jerry Peak.  And guess what, NOAA was right!  It was windless and close to 40 degrees.

We quickly made our way down (yes down) to the creek bed and wound our way through sage brush before we started up our selected steep ridge.

Dylan and Dan heading up

John showing off the latest fashion in hiking shorts

Dylan and Dan with the Lost Rivers in the background

With relatively warm weather, we sweated and grunted our way up to the main ridge at 9500 feet.  Here it was apparent that the route wouldn't be a simple walk up, but we were all jazzed with what was in sight.
The last 500 feet had a couple of rocky outcroppings as well as a corniced ridge to our first objective - South Jerry Peak.
After these obstacles were overcame, we celebrated Dan's 40th peak this year with hugs all around.  As you can see the views were outstanding.  We had the Lost Rivers to the east, the Boulders and Pioneers to the west, and the White Knobs to our south.

Looking back at South Jerry
At this point we contemplated heading over to Jerry Peak proper, with John's GPS reporting it being something like 1.7 miles away.  With the clear skies it looked much closer. After a bit we stopped to discuss continuing on or heading back.  It was a little past 1:30 at this point and we could either make it a short day or a longer one.  With plans of skiing the next day I was thinking we should cut it short, but before I could say anything, Dylan said we should go for it.  So we did.
Jerry Peak (hump in the center)
The walking across this high altitude plateau consisted mostly of hard consolidated snow that would hold your weight, but with the varying contour and occasional post hole it wasn't too much fun.  In a little less than an hour we reached our objective - Jerry Peak.
Once on Jerry we had a bite to eat and enjoyed the sunshine.  At this point it was almost 3 o'clock and John's GPS told us we had a little over four miles back to the truck.  We retraced our steps for a bit, and then dove off the plateau down a different ridge with the idea of looping back to the truck.  Our legs were a bit tired and coming down this steep ridge didn't help them.
The trucks down there somewhere.

Upon reaching the drainage it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other as we contoured around in the snow.  The sun quickly left us and as dusk was turning to dark we reached the truck.
Turned out to be a tiring, great day!
South Jerry Peak - 10,020 feet, Jerry Peak - 10,015 feet
Elevation Gain: 3400 feet
Distance: 11.3 miles

Monday, November 11, 2013

Three Fingers Rock - Owyhee Mountains

Three Fingers Rock
Dan Robbins, Tamara, Shadow and I decided Sunday was just too nice of a day for fall yard work.  Dan had talked to our buddy, Steve, earlier about some neat rock formations in the Owyhee Mountains and since I didn't have any particular peak in mind, we decided to head over to Eastern Oregon.  The goal was to grab a few obscure peaks in the Succor Creek area.  After a couple hours drive we were greeted with the great view above of our first objective - Three Fingers Rock.  There wasn't much beta on this formation, but what there was, said to hike up a two track for the first couple of miles. Since we were in the truck, I figured we ought to shorten the hike a bit.  After a very bumpy ride up, we ended up a mere 1/4 mile and 300 vertical from our objective.
We quickly found the secret to the right (East?) finger and after a bit of scrambling gained the summit in 17 minutes!  That has got to be a record.
Tamara working her way down from the first finger
We then searched a bit looking for looking for a route up the middle finger.  With nothing too obvious on the middle finger, we skirted around to the left finger.  Here we spied a nice route up a series of small ledges.  While Tamara graciously stayed back with a whiny Shadow, Dan and I shimmied our way up the route, popping out on a nice little ridge to finish the summit.
Dan making the final move up the West Finger

On top of the west finger, we looked and looked for a route up the middle finger, but without a rope, nothing looked too promising.  Oh well, I'll have to save this for when Dylan is home over Christmas break.  The down climb had a couple of fun moves involving some stemming that got the heart racing a bit!
Looking back at the Middle Finger-giving us the finger!
With all but the middle finger conquered, we hopped back in the truck and dropped down to our next objective - McIntyre Ridge. 
Dan starting up McIntyre
This was a great walk up with a grand total of 660 feet elevation gain.  But, the sun was shining, there was little wind, I had my lovely wife (and Dan) with me and it was just great to be out.  On this portion of the hike, Shadow was wondering why I didn't have my shotgun and she flushed a couple of coveys of chukar.  I was wondering the same thing...
Tamara on McIntyre Ridge
With McIntyre in the bag, we headed to our next objective - Round Mountain.  This was going to be a bit more challenging - a couple of miles and 1000 feet of gain.  Woo Hoo! But, by this point, Dan was liking the truck.  Spying a "road" along a fence, he figured we could get much closer before we started to hike.  Never one to turn down a challenge, I drove this "road" for a while until it turned into a couple of cow trails.  Here we finally put our boots on the ground and started up the hill.
Tamara heading up Round Mountain with Three Finger Rock in the background
After another 660 feet of elevation, we all stood at the summit of Round Mountain admiring the desert views.
We took one last look at Three Fingers Rock before we slowly made our way back to the truck and headed home.  Great day!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Moolack Mountain (Peak 10,330)

Since this was forecasted to be the last warm fall weekend, I wanted to get out and climb something in the Sawtooths before it was time to start skiing.  I texted John to see if there was something in the Sawtooth Mountains on his list, and he promptly responded with 8-10 suggestions.  On top of his list was Peak 10,330, and we set up an early Sunday morning rendezvous in Banks.

After dodging a half dozen rigs full of elk and deer hunters, we were on the trail out of Grandjean, at 8AM, in absolutely gorgeous weather.  Though the forecast was for a big change that afternoon, we were marching down the trail in cool temps, bright sunshine and no wind.

As we moved from the South Fork Trail to the Baron Creek Trail, four summited, Grandjean Peak towered above us. 

At the five mile mark, we headed off trail at Moolack Creek trying to stay out of the brush filled drainage as much as possible.  No such luck.
Moolack Creek
This first section of Moolack Creek was a grunt.  Bushwhacking and steep terrain made for a difficult first 1500 feet, but after a short while, we popped out into an open basin and stopped for a bite to eat.  Here we had views of our peak as well as Baron Peak.  Baron was to be a secondary climb, assuming we had time and the legs for it.
Baron Peak in the center
The summit of Peak 10,330 is the left tower of the two just to the left of center
Tom Lopez's book suggests climbing Peak 10,330 from the Baron/10,330 saddle, but after looking at the mountain, John suggested we just head straight up one of the gullies.  Not being one to disagree, I said we should go for it.  After picking our way through the stunted trees, we reached the chosen gully and started making the steep trudge up.  It was slow going in the loose sand and rocks as we zigzagged back and forth to the base of the rocky summit outcropping.
The rocky summit of Moolack Mountain
By this point the wind had picked up, so we dropped our packs and started climbing the steep, rocky, fun section.
Unfortunately, the fun scrambling only lasted 50 feet or so, but nonetheless it was great!  The views from the summit weren't too bad either.
Warbonnet Peak

Baron Peak
A couple of happy guys
Surprisingly, we found Sawtooth Sean's original summit register, and no one else had signed it.  We didn't want to soil it with our signatures, so placed it back.

After snapping some pictures, we took our time coming down the summit on the extremely loose rock.  Once off the rocky section we discussed heading over to Baron, but with it being 1:30 and with clouds starting to form, I didn't think it was wise.  (Actually, my legs were killing me!)  With that decision made, we dropped down a thousand feet and stopped for some lunch and to admire the views again.

From this point we tried our best to stay out of the brush as much as possible as we grunted and groaned our way down the 4000 feet to the main trail.  Once back on the main trail we did our best to move as fast as possible back to the car, but the dogs were barking.  Thankfully, we made it back to the car at 6PM.

Distance: a little over 15 miles
Time: 10 hours
Elevation: 5200 feet

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Two Devils and a Baal

He Devil from Sheep Lake
John had put out an email a month ago to a half dozen folks asking who was up for a Seven Devils trip for Saturday.  After some texting and other email traffic, three of us were left.  I met up with Dylan's buddy, Dan, at 4AM for the short two hour drive north to McCall where we grabbed John and continued north.

After another two hours, we were at the Heavens Gate campground, and on our feet at 8AM in cool sunny weather.  NOAA had forecasted a 20% chance of thunder showers and with the storms we've been having the past week, we were excited with the conditions.

Our plan was to climb several peaks in the area, He Devil, She Devil, Mt Baal, and possibly Tower of Babel, were all on the list.  Rather than hike on the main Seven Devils loop trail, which is something like 9 miles to get to the center of these peaks, we elected to take the shorter, albeit steeper, Sheep Lake Climbers Trail.  This "trail" is more like a goat path, switchbacking up to a mountain saddle, travelling along a ridge with a couple of precarious areas on the north side of this mountain, and then dropping steeply down to Sheep Lake.

And speaking of goats...  Once starting up the trail, Dan spotted this guy.

We made Sheep Lake in a about an hour.  With He Devil towering in front of us, we skirted the lake on the south side and headed up to a saddle.  After a quick bite to eat, we crossed a large boulder field and gained the northern ridge of He Devil.  From here it was a great scramble up to the summit, which we obtained at 11:00AM.

The skies looked hazy, but with all the rain we have had lately, we figured the area fires were all out and it must just be moisture in the air.  Other than the haze, the views from the summit were spectacular.

Some of the many lakes in the area with Hells Canyon in the background.
The final summit block of He Devil
The next peak on the list was She Devil, just to the west of He devil.  Dan left us at this point, as he'd climbed She Devil years prior and had bad memories of some scree filled gully.

John had climbed She Devil from He Devil a decade ago and knew of a route that dropped off the steep southern side of He Devil.  We wandered around a bit and then descended down 50-100 feet, skirted to climbers left and found a steep, tight gully that lead down.  The loose rock required us to take this gully one at a time to prevent injury.

John dropping off the summit of He Devil
Down climbing the steep gully
Once down the gully John and I split up some.  I explored a route trying to stay high, while John immediately dropped down.  After putzing around a bit, I decided to just head down rather than risk the possibility of ending up on a cliff.  I found a ramp and dropped down through the scree to meet up with John at the saddle between She and He.
Once down in the saddle, it was time to head up again.  The route was well marked with cairns, which took some of the fun out of the ascent.  We purposely took a variation that ended up with a bit of class 3+ scaling of the summit block which we obtained at 12:30.
Ramp leading to the summit block
The final summit block to She Devil.
A look back at the route off He Devil (upper right corner).
Apparently She Devil is a few feet shorter than He Devil, though neither have officially been measured.  The altitude of each is approximately 9400 feet.  John and I debated this fact as we had another bite to eat on the summit of She Devil in the sunshine.  We were both feeling pretty good at this point and continued west towards Mt Baal.  The "peak" is in between She Devil and the Tower of Babel and looks great from Sheep Lake.  From our vantage point it didn't look too bad, but not as imposing as it looks from below.
It didn't take too long to obtain Mt Baal, probably 30 minutes after getting off the summit of She Devil.  From here we longingly gazed at the Tower of Babel.
Mt Baal
But, with Dan waiting for us at Sheep Lake, and it being a little after 1PM, we decided to head down.  After dropping off Mt Baal, we came to the source of Dan's nightmares - the dreaded gully.  It didn't look too bad, almost looked like we could boot ski all the way down.  But after several hundred feet it became apparent that this wouldn't be the case.  The rocks gradually became larger and the going much more difficult.
The gully

John "boot skiing" down
After 30 minutes and 1000 feet of hell, we joined Dan at the lake where I know he was laughing his head off as he listened to all the rocks falling down in front of us. The gully was tough going down, not sure if I'd like to try going up it.

From here it was just a short jaunt up another 600 feet over the goat trail called, The Sheep Lake Climbers Trail, back to a cold beer waiting for us at the car.  We arrived at the car a little after 3PM with very sore feet.

John's Trip report: http://www.splattski.com/2013/devils/index.html

Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation gain: ~4500 feet
Time: 7.25 hours

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