Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, October 27, 2014

City of Rocks

Elephant Rock from our camp
Last weekend was Family Weekend at Utah State University.  Rather than attend the lame events scheduled by the University, we met Dylan at the City of Rocks (COR) for a couple of days of rock climbing. 

Even though it was October 25th, the predicted weather for Saturday had temps in the upper 60s and light winds.  Sunday was predicted to be colder with a chance of rain.  Not bad for late October.

Dylan told me that this area would blow my mind, and he was right.  When we woke up Saturday morning Elephant Rock was staring us in the face.  Dang!  That is a big rock!  After a leisurely breakfast, we headed to Parking Lot Rock for a climb of Norma’s Book.  The COR guidebook we were using had this rated as a 5.5, so it would serve as a warm up.
Norma's Book
Dylan led this trad route without too much difficulty.  After he set up a belay on top, I followed and trailed a rope for Tamara to follow me.  As I achieved the top of the pitch I gave Dylan a high five and said, “5.5 my ass!”  Compared to the ratings on our local climbing area, this was much harder than advertised.
Dylan is up there somewhere
Dylan making a move
Now it's my turn
Tamara cruised up this route easily and all three of us sat in the sunshine admiring the views.

After the opener, we went to Elephant Rock to climb a classic COR moderate route - Wheat Thin (5.7).  Though there was only one space available in the small parking area, we decided to give it a go.  Luckily, the other climbing parties were just finishing up and we had the rock to ourselves.

We followed the same pattern as Norma’s Book, Dylan leading and me following trailing a rope for Tamara.  This climb was a blast with some steep crack climbing. 
Dylan almost to the top of Wheat Thin

I figured Tamara would have some difficulty with this route, but Dylan kept bringing in rope on the belay and before I knew it, there she was topping out.  Dang!  That girl can climb! After a tour of the top of Elephant’s Rock, Dylan lowered his mother before he and I rappelled off.

Tamara coming up Wheat Thin
Made it!
Summit Splattski on Elephant Rock
The rest of the afternoon was spent with Dylan giving his mother some belaying and rappelling training on Practice Rock.  Dylan set up a top rope, and then we had Tamara belay the both of us as we climbed the short Original Left (5.7) route.

The view out the trailer window Sunday morning was considerably darker than Saturday morning.  Storm clouds were brewing out west, and the prospects didn’t look too good for a climb.  I thought we might call it, but we jumped in the truck and drove to the Breadloaves area to climb Twist and Crawl (5.8).

It was 39 degrees and the wind was blowing as we made the short hike to the base of the rock.  
Dang it's cold!
We quickly geared up and Dylan started up the route.  The first 20-30 feet was unprotected and even though the moves weren’t too difficult, everyone let out a sigh of relief when Dylan clipped the first bolt.  This route is a mixture of sport and trad climbing and Dylan steadily worked his way up the slabby face moves before gaining the upper crack.  As he progressed upward the wind picked up, and the snow started swirling around.
Dylan leading Twist and Crawl
The conditions
By this time Tamara decided she’d be better off waiting for us in the truck.  I continued to belay Dylan until he let out a whoop of joy as he topped out. 

After lowering Dylan, he asked if I was up for giving it a try.  Since he had a top rope set up, and it didn’t look like the weather could get any worse, I decided to give it a go.

This climb was the best of the weekend for me.  Not sure if it was the miserable conditions or the fact that it was a tougher climb, but I definitely enjoyed this climb.  There were several places where I had to stop and search for the small finger holds, but for the most part I progressed steadily.  The final moves required some hand jamming up a crack before going over a short roof to the anchors. 

Tamara's view of me from the truck
On our trot back to the truck, in the wind and snow, we both were smiling like crazy.  All in all, the three of us had an excellent time in the City of Rocks, and hopefully we can get back there this spring.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Couple of White Cloud Peaks (WPC-1 and WCP-3)

WCP-3 above HooDoo Lake
On the Sunday after the Idaho Summits fall outing a couple of weeks ago, Dan Robbins and I, along with our wives, took a little hike to HooDoo Lake to stretch our legs.  Once at the lake, White Cloud Peak (WCP) #3 was staring us in the face just begging to be climbed.

With all the travelling for work and pleasure I had been doing lately, I somehow convinced my beautiful spouse that I needed to get up high and enjoy the excellent fall weather we had been having.  Dan and I had been texting about an ascent up WCP-3 as well as WCP-1 (Who named these things anyway?) for Sunday.  While we were planning, John Platt texted about trying to climb the same peaks.  How did that happen?  A plan was made for an early Sunday morning start, but unfortunately, Dan announced that he was out Saturday night.

John and I met up in Banks for the short 3 hour drive to Slate Creek.  On the drive up Slate Creek road we ran into a few of the usual “hunters” stopped in the middle of the road in their trucks.  Undeterred by the guys with the rifles, we were on our feet and moving a little after 9AM.

Since it was a bit chilly we set a brisk pace up an old mine road trying to keep warm.  This worked well in that we reached HooDoo Lake, 1700 feet higher, in about an hour.  By this time, the sun had risen high enough to allow us to proceed in our T-shirts.  Like two weeks prior, the view from HooDoo Lake did not disappoint.

My plan for the day had been to repeat a portion of Super Dave’s WCP – 1, 2 and 3 trip ( http://idahoalpinezone.com/index.php?p=2_18 ) and link up the three peaks.  In our earlier discussions, Dan pointed out that it would entail a long 9 hour day, but I wanted to give it a try anyway.  As we past HooDoo Lake, John and I decided we’d see how the day progressed before trying to deciding to do WCP-2.

Once passed the lake, we made a sharp right turn and headed straight up the steep slope toward WCP-1.  By this time the sun was in full force and it felt like it was 80 degrees.  It’s hard to complain when the weather is so gorgeous, but hell we were sweating profusely and it was October 19th!  
John heading towards WCP-1

Once we got close to the ridge a 1000 feet higher, we found a goat trail that angled us toward the summit through the rubble.  On top it was a bit windy, so we quickly took a couple of summit shots and then headed down the jagged ridge to the saddle between WCP-1 and WCP-3 for a multi-course lunch.

J. Platt photo
While eating lunch, the ridge to WCP-3 was staring us in the face and we also had a great view of the jagged ridge between WCP-3 and WCP-2.  Even though it was only noon, the shadows created by the angle of the fall sun made it seem like late afternoon.  These shadows made it difficult to see the exact route to the summit of WCP-3, but we didn’t remember reading about any difficulties.
We dropped our packs at the saddle before starting up the ridge to WCP-3, subconsciously making the decision to not proceed to WCP-2.  It wasn’t until we were halfway up WCP-3 before John pointed this fact out to me.  
John coming up the broad ridge of WCP-3
After 24 minutes (I think John timed us) we reached the summit of WCP-3 – it was now 1PM.  I was feeling pretty good at this point and was a little bummed that we couldn't proceed.  In his trip report, Super Dave said it took him 2 hours round trip to tag the summit of WCP-2. Even though I wanted to proceed, I really didn’t want to get home at 10PM.  It'll be there for next year.

Approaching the summit with Swimm lake and Watson Peak in the background
The ridge to WCP-2 from WCP-3

From the summit, we gawked at the Sawtooths and some of the other White Cloud peaks.  The ridge to WCP-2 looked like it would be an awesome traverse, but judging from the quality of the rock we had been all day, it would definitely take a bit of time.  It was a wise choice to save this for later.  

It took us about as long to get down to our packs as it did to get to the summit.  From here is was just a short jaunt back down to the lake and then a cruise out the old mine road back to the car.  We arrived a little after 3PM and quickly retrieved the couple of Ninkasi Total Domination IPAs that we had stashed in the creek.

Time - 6 hours car to car
Distance - 7.7 miles
Elevation - 4200 feet

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nevada Chukar Hunt Opening Day 2014

Last weekend was my annual pilgrimage to Northern Nevada for the opening of chukar season.  We fuzzily figured out that this was either the 17th or 18th year of the core group getting together for opening day.  The tradition of us old friends getting together for chukar hunting started over 20 years ago, but there was an interruption of the streak.

This year it was the core group (JD, John, Brian and me) as well as a newcomer, Craig.  Though Craig was new to our opening day hunt, he was with us back in Lincoln Hall at UNR.  It was great seeing he and JD get to catch up with one another after 30 years!

The Nevada Department of Wildlife had seen a 40% increase in birds during their annual survey flights which had us a bit excited.  However, this was a 40% increase from the dismal 2013 season – the 2014 numbers were still quite a bit below the 10 year average.  Still, it had to be better than last year, right?

I arrived at camp mid afternoon to find a trailer and a pickup in our camping spot, but no people.  After setting up camp and having a beer, JD and Brian drove up in JD’s new hunting rig – a Touareg.  There is a story here – you see, JD used to have a Touareg a few years back, and he took that brand spanking new rig out chukar hunting and it got just a bit dirty.  He ended up selling it after a couple of years and has since been hunting with an older Dodge Cummins.  While coming out to scout the area a few weeks earlier, the Dodge blew a front tire, flipped and that was the end of it.  Without a hunting rig, JD went back to his old favorite – the VW Touareg.  Though this one wasn't new like his other one, it is still nice driving to the hunting spot in both style and comfort.

Once John and Craig showed up a bit later, we concocted plans for dinner and cracked some beers.  After the meal, we sat around the fire discussing the next morning’s hunting plans without coming to a decision.  Since we are all getting along in age, there wasn’t much partying going on that night and we hit the sleeping bags relatively early.

The next morning was gorgeous as JD cooked the usual awesome breakfast for us.  Around breakfast we came up with the day’s plan - John and Craig would head over to a drainage where we had always gotten into birds in the past, while the rest of us would head father out to another known hot spot.

JD’s earlier scouting had turned up birds, but not many in the spots we were headed to.  We didn't feel like driving the 2 hours to the hot spots he’d found earlier and figured we just hit other known hot spots. 
JD and the Touareg
JD and Brian

It ended up being a good day, with a total of 19 birds between the five of us and with JD getting his limit of 6.  That night we cleaned and de-boned all the birds and I cooked up some Green Chile Chukar that was enjoyed by everyone.  After some brownies for dessert, a few more beers and a large bottle of Women in Boots wine, we were off to bed early again.
Saturday's haul
JD and Craig catching up
Sunday was another beautiful day and again the two different groups went their separate ways.  The Touareg group headed back to the same areas we hunted the day before, and again got into birds.  John and Craig also got into some birds.  The total for Sunday wasn't quite as good - only 8 birds.
JD cooking breakfast while John enjoys his coffee

Sunday’s dinner was beef themed – T-Bones and Ribeyes.  To round out the meal, we enjoyed potatoes, green beans and John Wood’s famous “Mix up every type of canned bean we have and add to it” beans and another bottle of Women in Boots wine.

It seems like the chukar are definitely on the upswing in our little portion of Northern Nevada and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.  We went from about 6 birds total in 2013 to 27 this year - much better than a 40% increase! 

It was again a blast seeing the old chukar hunting gang again!

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