Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, March 24, 2014

Peak 8562

Peak 8562
I hadn't been out with Dan since our Jerry Peak outing the end of December.  He emailed me with a few ideas and I was up for getting out but was hoping to limit windshield time and get home at a decent hour.  With this in mind we settled on an obscure peak in the Smoky Mountains north of Fairfield – Peak 8562.

Dan, Shadow and I hit the hill outside of Cherry Creek at 8:30AM sans snowshoes.  It was a bit chilly at first, so the heat we generated as we climbed the steep sagebrush hill was welcome.  As we progressed upward toward the sunshine we entered the moonscape that was the terrain after the Beaver Creek fire. 

Dan heading up the ridge
We made quick time in gaining the first 1100 feet to reach point 6788 and could finally see our objective, Peak 8562, a few miles away.  From here we followed the wide undulating “ridge” to the base of the peak alternating between solid snow and burned ground.  With the charred surface, the going was relatively easy since we didn't have to watch our feet as we walked and chatted in the bright sunshine.  All this time, Buttercup Mountain was looming on our left.  I was drooling, wanting to climb it, but without an ice ax today wasn't going to be the day.  Maybe I’ll head that way in a couple of weeks.

Buttercup Mountain
After four miles we reached the base of the peak and all that remained was the short 600 foot gain to the summit.   As we grunted up this section a cold breeze from the north started picking up.  The GPS read 11:45 and 5.25 miles.

The views from the summit were excellent.  The Pioneers really stood out to the east as did the burned our drainages that surrounded us.  The previous weeks hike up Newman Peak had us on the northern edge of the Beaver Creek fire; here we were on the southern edge close to 20 miles away.
Currant Gulch
The view back to the truck 
No sign of human occupation
We huddled behind the summit cairn out of the wind for a quick lunch before dropping of the north side to make a small loop out of the trip.  The descent path we chose provided some excellent views showing the destruction a large fire does to both the trees and land.

Dan making his way slowly down to Cherry Creek.  I glissaded the snow to the right.
Burned and blown out Cherry Creek
We arrived back at the truck a little after 2:30 in good shape and headed to Fairfield where the burgers at the Wrangler were excellent!  

Total distance was a little shy of 10 miles with over 3100 feet elevation gain.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Newman Peak

Close up of the summit with Newman Peak on the left
Last Saturday morning John Platt, Dave Pahlas (Super Dave) and I found ourselves on the road to Ketchum for a winter attempt at Newman Peak,elevation 10,171 feet.  These plans came together quickly earlier in the week (after 20 emails between us!) with Newman Peak being on Dave's wish list.  One of these days I'll need to get a wish list together...
The plan was to access the peak from the northeast ridge, a route that I was told could be a bit iffy.  With the high avalanche danger over and the sun shining it looked like it was going to be a great day for an adventure.

Snow blowing off the summit of Boulder Mountain
We left the truck and hit the hard pack snow in our boots at 9:30AM.  The sun was shining and the wind was blowing a bit from the northwest as we looked over our proposed route.

Our peak's back there somewhere
Come to find out later (from Dave via Matt Leidecker) the ridge we travelled on was a proposed ski area at one time.  If you look at the picture above you can see where a proposed ski lift was cut through the trees.

After the first thousand feet, we started post holing a bit so it was on with the snowshoes and the gradual uphill battle continued.

Contemplating the beautiful day (D. Pahlas photo)

We traded leading and were averaging a little over 1000 feet per hour, which seemed a bit slow for our normal pace.  It must have been to all the gawking that was occurring due to the views of the Boulders.  A little after 12:30 we made Newman's Nose at 9,897 feet, and our objective finally came into view.  From this distance it was hard to tell if there would be a route from our approach.

Newman Peak on the left
John hadn't been feeling too good on the ascent so we found a place in the sunshine and out of the wind for a leisurely lunch break. 

John waxing philosophically
After our sumptuous lunch John decided he was feeling good enough to continue on, so we started the gradual uphill jaunt again.

John approaching point 10,016

Dave on point 10,016 sizing up our objective
Once we reached the next high point at 10,016 feet John decided he'd had enough, so after agreeing on a 4PM turn around, we parted ways.  Dave and I were eager to get closer since it still wasn't clear that there was a safe path to the peak.  We continued on a bit, dropping down a couple of hundred feet, all the while getting a better view of the summit.  It was almost looking like there might be a possibility.
The Northeast Ridge
Once the ridge narrowed, it was time to get out of the snowshoes.  We dropped off a knoll and though we didn't say anything at the time, we both smelled a strong musky smell.  As I was undoing my snowshoes Dave called to me softly and I turned around to see this beautiful mountain goat.

After snapping a couple of pictures, something startled it and it took off across the ridge toward the summit.  It might have been us or the snowmobile way down below us, but the wind was blowing in our faces so he definitely didn't smell us.  After a few minutes Dave pointed the goat out as it crossed a snowfield just below the summit.  We looked at each other and said, "He just showed us the way to the summit!"
Dave starting across the ridge
By following the goat's tracks we made relatively quick progress across the narrow, undulating ridge.  Still, it took us almost 45 minutes to reach the first obstacle - a steep gully on the first summit block.  We started up the center of this, but quickly traversed over to the left to get out of the snow and on top of the rock.

The steep gully
The climb up this gully and rock was definitely class 3+ and was the crux of the climb.  The rock wasn't too bad, if you paid attention, it would only occasionally fall apart in your hands.  There were ample hand and foot holds along the ledges that needed to be traversed as Dave led the way.

A ledge on the first summit block (D. Pahlas photo)

Some more scrambling (D. Pahlas photo)

The final summit block
Once above the gully, we came upon a snowfield across a short ridge that needed traversing.  We thought it prudent to pull out the ice axes as the run out on either side would have wrecked a great day.  With axes in had we crossed the snow and started up the rock on the final summit block.  After 15 minutes of some great scrambling we were on top at 10,171 feet, and it was only 3:30.

Summit Splattski
Dave commented that this was almost a perfect day.  The sun was out, the wind had died down, and we were on the summit, but - John wasn't with us.  I was feeling a bit tired at this point, so as we sat on the summit admiring the views, I fueled up with the remaining food I had on hand.

Looking back at our tracks across the snowy ridge
My GPS showed that we had travelled almost 6 miles during the last six hours to reach this summit.  A bit of hard work was still left as we had to down climb the two blocks and traverse across the long ridge to get back to our snowshoes.  We took our time and in places had to try two or three potential routes to get down without traversing across some of the ledges we used on the way up.

Heading up to get down (D. Pahlas photo)
By 4:45 we had made it back to our snowshoes without any mishaps.  At this point I was feeling pretty tired and we only had to drop 3,000 feet and 5 miles to get back to the truck.  I figured we'd make it back by 7:30 and with the time change in effect we wouldn't need headlamps.

Dave heading down
As it was, we arrived at the truck at 7:15 and wearily told John all about it before heading into Ketchum for a well deserved burrito.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

White Rock Peak

The summit of White Rock Peak
Tamara and I have been doing quite a bit of skiing this winter and were planning on continuing to get out.  But, this latest warm trend put the kibosh on those thoughts.  With the snow conditions marginal at best, my thoughts turned to just getting outside.  The weather for Saturday was looking good, so after many emails, texts and phone calls during the week, I hooked up with John Platt for a snowshoe of a peak he had been eyeing.

I met up with John, his wife Julie, Deb, Mark and Tory (three others who I had previously met on the Idaho Summits spring outing last May) at the turn off to Warm Lake at 9AM in bluebird weather.  From there we drove the 40 mile twisty road to the trailhead at Poverty Flats Campground.  Yes, I said trailhead.  Too bad Tamara wasn't with us, since we are rarely on a trail when she's with us.  But, since she wasn't feeling well she didn't get to enjoy the "trail".

We all left the vehicles at 10:30 and after a bit of confusion on which trail to take, we settled on the unmaintained trail.  Yes, our "trail" consisted of a faint path with a large amount of deadfall crossing it.  Painful!
Looking back down the trail
It didn't take long for us all to get strung out on the brushy trail and after gaining the first 1000 feet I realized I was all alone.  I didn't have a map with me and knew it was a pretty straightforward ridge hike to the summit. But I didn't really feel like hiking it solo, so waited a bit until Deb caught up.

Not long after, we reached the snow line.  Rather than immediately don snowshoes, we continued on in boots, hoping that the snow was somehow frozen in the 40 degree weather. For a while it wasn't too bad with only an occasional punch through, but eventually it became obvious that the traveling would be easier with snowshoes.

During this first hour our blue skies had gradually filled with high clouds, but I was in a T-shirt and feeling good. 
Glimpse of the summit (far right)

Deb and I steadily progressed, trading out the trail breaking duties, until we reached a point within 500 vertical feet of the summit at 2PM.  We hadn't heard or seen anyone for the last couple of hours so we stopped for lunch while trying to stay out of the wind.  The group hadn't discussed a turn around time, and since it was getting late and we hadn't seen anyone else, we figured we'd head back rather than continue up. 

After dropping a couple of hundred feet we ran into Mark and Tory.  Since it was 2:30 at this point and they had recently seen John and Julie, we all decided to keep heading for the summit.  I was still feeling good at this point so I put the pedal to the metal and started cruising up.

There wasn't much to see since the trees were so thick, but as the steepness moderated I finally saw our objective through the trees.  About a 1/4 mile away was a rock pillar, and it actually looked kind of white (in a grayish sort of way).
Final ridge to the summit
I made the base of the 40 foot rock pillar at about 3:30 or so.  There wasn't an obvious route up these rocks, especially with snowshoes, so I took a few pictures for Dylan to drool over.  This was going to have to be my summit. 

I found a cozy spot at the base of the rocks and waited for everyone to join me.  First there was Deb, then Mark and Tory, and finally, John and Julie.
Deb making the final 50 feet

Mark and Tory remembered that they had brought up Steve's Fireball Whiskey from the New Year's Eve Cervidae hike, so we passed that around for a quick pick me up.  After some high fives, and a bit of food, it was time to get down.  After all, it was after 4PM by this time and we'd been out for over 5 hours and had hiked 3500 feet in our snowshoes.

 I'd like to say we made quick work of the hike down, but it wasn't to be.  The snow conditions had deteriorated and it was tough going.  I do know that Julie and I ended up on our rears more than once!

Link to John's trip report: http://www.splattski.com/2014/white_rock/index.html

My GPS plot:

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