Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Three and Two - Peak 11,151, Peak 10,995 and Smiley Mountain

Smiley Mountain (left) and Peak 11,151 (right) in the morning Alpenglow
Dan texted me earlier in the week with an idea to make the 3 day Memorial Day weekend a 4 day weekend – I was all ears!  His plan was to climb a couple of obscure peaks in the Smiley Lobe portion of the Pioneers on Friday – Peak 11,151 and Peak 10,995.  After looking at the proposed route, I suggested something a little spicier, and Dan offered a “loop” to include Smiley Mountain.

Dan, Dylan and I took off after work, Thursday, and met up with Deb Rose and Tom Cox just outside of Iron Bog Campground at dusk.  Deb and Tom were game when I suggested we add in Smiley since friends of theirs were planning on climbing it that weekend.

5AM came early for some of us, and after a quick bite to eat and some coffee, we were on the road at 6AM.  The plan was to hike the NE ridge of peak 11,151 from Antelope Pass, cross a saddle to adjoining Peak 10,995, and then head over to Smiley.  Since Dan had already climbed Smiley, he offered to be the shuttle boy.

We were on our feet at 7AM, in the cool morning sunshine, just below Antelope Pass at around 8700 feet.  The NE ridge was a relatively easy walk as it undulated for several miles, though there was the occasional detour allowing us to get in a little class 3 scrambling. 
After a couple of miles, the first two objectives came into view.
Peak 11,151 just poking up
As we moved higher, the head of Anderson Canyon open up before us.  I mentally added this on next year’s list for a ski tour.

Head of Anderson Canyon with Peak 10,995 (right)
We all reached the summit of Peak 11,151 around 10:30 and gawked at the views!  We had great views of the main Pioneer range, as well as the Lost River Range.


Looking back down our route
After a bit of discussion, it was determined that Dylan and Tom would head north and tag Peak 10,995 while Deb and I would meander our way south towards Smiley Mountain.    

Dylan sucking up to Mr. Idaho Summits (Dan)
Dan with his edible ice axe protection
With Dylan and Tom off to their next objective, Deb and I hung with Dan for a bit before we bid him goodbye and started down the south ridge of Peak 11,151.  Smiley Mountain looked like it was several miles away and we could just make out a route that would keep us out of the snow.
Route from 11,151 to Smiley Mountain (left most bump)
As we were dropping down to the broad saddle between Peak 11,151 and Smiley, I noticed Dylan and Tom running towards Peak 10,995.  Ah, to be young again! They apparently reached the peak in 30 minutes and after a short rest started back down. 
Ridge running
Peak 10,995
By the time they caught up with Deb and me, we had just reached the ridge overlooking Lake Creek, with its half dozen frozen lakes.  The views of the seven summits of Alcyon Peak were stunning.  This, too, was added to my mental list.

Deb on her way to Smiley

Tom and Dylan
A few of the seven summits of Alcyon
I found this one to be my favorite
With all four of us together, we moved at a reasonable pace up the North ridge of Smiley.  The route was smooth with the exception of the last few hundred feet, where we encountered a little talus.  No problems though, and we were on the summit of Smiley (11,508’) at 1:45PM.

The final few hundred feet
All smiles!
After high fives and a few summit shots. we dropped down the south ridge for a much needed lunch break.  Here we took off our boots and refueled for the final leg.  The proposed meeting place with Dan was in view but it looked a long, long way off. 

Follow that broad brown ridge to the trees - that's where the truck is
We were all a bit tired at this point, so after a half hour, we started down the miserable scree filled hell that is the south ridge of Smiley Mountain.  Though I was told that the south ridge was the “standard” route for climbing Smiley, I’ll take our route any day. 

We all got through the 1000 vertical feet of ankle breaking talus without incident, and all that was left was several miles of gradual downhill walking back to Iron Bog campground.  At this point Dylan put on the afterburners and I did my best to try and keep him in view. 

Looking back at Smiley Mountain
At 4PM the truck finally came into view. All that was left was a short, steep, thigh high, sagebrush filled slope.  Nothing like a bit if fun to finish the day off!  I was back at the truck with Dan and Dylan at 4:30 with Tom and Deb joining us a few minutes later.

Peaks: 3 (Dylan), 2 (John)
Distance: 13.25 (Dylan), 11.5 (John)
Elevation Gain: 4700 feet (Dylan), 4000 feet (John)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lost River Peak Super Gully Ski!

LRP Super Gully on Monday May 5th
Dylan and I had been scheming on skiing the Super Gully on Lost River Peak for the last month or so.  We had set preliminary plans for the weekend after he finished his first year of higher education.  Things looked good after we took a small detour to look at the conditions on our way home from Taylor’s graduation last Monday.

The forecast for Saturday was 50% chance of snow with little or no accumulation, but the sky was mostly clear as we drove through Mackay Friday evening.  We set up camp at the trail head, in the wind, as it was getting dark and it was lights out at 10:30 with a planned 5AM wake up.

During the course of the night I woke several times to hear snow pelting the tent, but didn’t think much about it. After Dylan stuck his head out of the tent at 5, he mentioned the snow and muttered something about it not looking too good.  I suggested we sleep for a few more minutes and then check again.  When I took a look 30 minutes later and saw partly cloudy skies and no snow on the ground, I suggested we go for it and see what happened higher up.
Leaving camp
 After a quick breakfast, and a not so quick packing of gear, we were on our feet at 6:30 in the early morning light.  The mountain top was shrouded in clouds and we could see a light dusting of snow higher up as we huffed and puffed up the trail.  At least I was huffing and puffing.  Dylan was showing his old man that even though he had been slacking off in school, he could still hike.  
Dylan told me to smile like I was having fun
Huffing and puffing
We finally took a break a little before 8AM above the trees at 9600 feet.  Dylan had been waiting for me for 15 minutes or so, as I could not keep up with his 2000 foot/hour pace. After a short break we crested the ridge and got a closer view of our ski decent route.  From this vantage point the snow didn’t look too good with a mix of old, wet slide avalanche debris and thin conditions. 

As we moved higher with ice axes and crampons on, the wind picked up and the snow started falling.  Not the spring type graupel, but large snowflakes.  Figuring that this would just blow over in a few minutes we continued higher.  We stopped and took a couple of breaks between 10,000 and 11,000 feet, trying to get out of the wind whipped snow without much luck.  

As we moved into the bowl just below the false summit, the snow started to accumulate.  We moved to climber’s left, continuing up in the wind and snow, and gained the ridge at 11,800 feet at 11:30.  Here we dropped our skis and debated on what to do.  
Dylan on the windy ridge

After a few minutes of discussion, we opted to head up the remaining 200 feet to the false summit and further assess the conditions.  On the ridge, the wind was really whipping as the snow continued to swirl about. When we reached the false summit, the visibility was limited to 50 feet or so and rather than continue on the narrow corniced ridge to the summit, we elected to go back down to our skis.

A not quite the summit Splattski
 The great thing was, once we reached our skis, the clouds lifted and we could just barely make out the Lost River valley 5000 feet below. Though we could now see our ski route and the snow had slowed considerably, the wind was still blowing strong and moving a lot of snow off the ridge.  Before clipping into our skis, we assessed the conditions and figured things were safe since we could still see our ascent footsteps in the snow below. 
The clouds are lifting!
Dylan dropped in first and was hooting and hollering as the 6” of fresh powder was blowing off of his skis.  I followed after he tucked behind a band of rocks, and could not get a sound out as I was blasted by a big face shot of powder on my second turn!  Wasn't this May 10th?
All smiles!
We leap frogged each other down the gully, laughing and high fiving each time we met up.  We could not believe the condition of the snow.  What luck!  After seeing how crappy the snow looked 3 hours before on our ascent, we just couldn't stop smiling. As we progressed lower, the depth of the powder diminished, but we always had fresh snow covering the old.

All smiles again!
Still smiling!
But, all good things must come to an end, and before we knew it we were back to our snowed in boots at 9900 feet.  As we transitioned back into hiking mode, we just couldn’t get over how lucky we had been to have this spring squall bring such great conditions – we were in the right place at the right time!
Getting ready to head back down with Mt. McCaleb in the background
 After putting our skis back on our backs, we cautiously followed the snow covered trail down the ridge.  We meandered our way through the trees and rather than follow the straight line back to the truck we gave our knees a break by zig-zagging down the ridge.

We were back at the truck at 1:30 and quickly packed up camp before heading to Amy Lou’s in Mackay for an excellent burger and fries!
One last look at the mountain
Distance: Who cares! But something close to 3.5 miles.
Elevation Gain: 4600 feet
Time (car to car): 7 hours

Monday, May 5, 2014

Taylor's Graduation!!!

Last weekend was a big day for the Fadgen family. Rather than the usual outdoor mountain adventure, this was to be an indoor celebratory adventure.

Tamara and I left Boise Thursday evening to pick up Dylan in Logan, UT.  He had just finished his first year of college that morning and needed to move out of the dorms ASAP.  My parents had left Las Vegas the day before and we all met up Friday morning for breakfast while Dylan loaded up all his belongings.  Once he had the truck packed we all convoyed north to Bozeman.

Taylor has been studying Microbiology at Montana State University for the last four years and was now one day away from graduating.  We were there to celebrate with her.

Everyone met up Saturday morning at our favorite Bozeman area bakery for breakfast.
The boys sucking down some coffee
Dylan, Taylor and Chase (Taylor's BF)
After running some quick errands, it was time for us to head to Brick Breeden Fieldhouse for the afternoon graduation ceremony.  Much to our surprise, Taylor was up on the big screen when we walked in to the Fieldhouse.  She was up there thanking all of her professors for the previous 4 years! 

After a not so painful period (i.e, short) where the required speakers said their typical encouraging words to the new graduates, it was time for the procession.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) the microbiology students where pretty close to the last ones to get their diplomas.  No worries though, as the bench seats were mighty comfortable!

All smiles!
We're done - let's celebrate!
Taylor and her friend, Emma, showing some Cat spirit.
Following the ceremony we walked out on campus for some photos in a couple of places Taylor had chosen.  By this time the morning sunshine was gone and a cold wind was blowing making for a brisk walk.  Oh well, after all, this is Montana in the spring.
Proud parents
Proud and slightly cold grandparents
Goofy brother
Relieved boyfriend

With the bronze bobcat
That evening we all went out for a celebratory dinner followed by drinks at one of Bozeman's finest whiskey bars - Copper.  While enjoying a few rounds of cocktails, we had three generations of us do a shot to celebrate the graduate!  
Mom, John, Sonya (T's roommate), Taylor and Chase-post shot
Dylan taking in the whiskey bar crowd
Sonya, Taylor and Chase

The weather Sunday was gorgeous allowing us a chance to walk around downtown Bozeman browsing the tourist shops.  Once finished with that we looked for a place to do some day drinking, but were a little too early.  Undaunted, we headed back to Taylor's place to sit out on the patio to enjoy the sunshine.
Grampie and Dylan Sunday afternoon
Monday came around too fast and we all split up and headed our own directions.  Grammie and Grampie; south to Las Vegas, us; west to Boise and Taylor; back to her apartment to prepare for the next chapter of her life.

It is an understatement to say that we are very proud of all her accomplishments.  We can't wait for the next ones.

Love you Zoopies!

She's so happy, and we're so proud!

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