Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Adventure on Hum Ridge Peaks

Last week my buddy, John Platt, emailed me a picture of a ridge, northeast of McCall, he wanted to try that included five peaks.  With the picture in mind, and always open for an adventure, I wholeheartedly agreed.  I probably should have put a little more thought into this decision.
Photo John sent me with the peaks highlighted in red.  Doesn't look too bad.
Knowing we would be in for a long day, I left Boise at 4:30AM for the 2.5 hour drive to McCall.  After dropping one vehicle off 8 miles from our trail head, we were walking up the Duck Lake/Hum Lake trail, a little before 9AM, in bright sunshine. 

John and I haven’t been out since Memorial Day, so we spent time catching up and before we knew it we were on the saddle above Hum Lake allowing us to get a better view of the day’s plan.  Hmm, it looked like we were in for a long day.

We had a couple of options here, we could drop down to Hum Lake and then back up to gain the ridge to peak #1 (Peak 8380), or we could climb up and over Humdinger Peak (Peak 8573) and then traverse the same ridge to peak #1.   We chose option #2, even though John had previously climbed Humdinger Peak.
Humdinger Peak left of center
We were now off trail, boulder hopping our way up the mountain.  I love this kind of climbing, but as we progressed up the mountain I was hoping that the other peaks would be a little more straightforward.
John downclimbing a large gendarme
Once on the summit of Humdinger, we relaxed, fueled up, and plotted our next steps.  Peak #1 looked a long way off, but it was early, not too hot, and we were still fresh.
Peak #1 in the center of frame
We carefully traversed the ridge to peak #1 picking our way across the large granite boulders interspersed with occasional deadfall.  It took a bit of time, but eventually we had the summit in sight.  This peak did not disappoint with a nice scrambling finish to the top.  It was now noon and our next peak looked pretty close compared to the distance we had just traveled.
Summit of peak #1
While our traverse from Humdinger to peak #1 was boulders interspersed with deadfall, the traverse to peak #2 (another Peak 8380) was the opposite; deadfall interspersed with the occasional boulder.  Not fun!

On our way to peak #2
Peak #2
Even though the distance between these two peaks was less than the previous two, the persistent deadfall slowed us down significantly.  Oh, and it was starting to warm up.  We didn’t spend too much time on the top of this peak; after all it was now 1:45PM.  Where had the time gone?

Thankfully the ridge between peaks #2 and #3 was not covered in deadfall, but we did have a large boulder field to negotiate.
It's getting hot!
Close up of peak #3
We picked our way through the rocks, staying on climbers left of the ridge, before eventually gaining the ridge at the summit block.  Like peak #1, this peak (Peak 8565) provided a great scrambling finish to the summit.  It was now almost 3PM, and after looking at the ridge to our next peak, we mutually agreed that it wasn’t in the cards for today.
Ridge to peak #4
Looking back from summit of peak #3 - Humdinger (way back in center), peak #1 (right) and peak #2 (left)
Our plan was to drop down to the North Fork of Lick Creek and follow the trail to our vehicle.  First we had to get off the summit, which proved a little challenging.  Initially it was straightforward as we circled around the rocky summit and followed the gentle north ridge down to a grassy lake basin.  From this point, John chose our route based on how close the contour lines appeared on the GPS.  Down a ramp here, cross through some trees there, peer over the edge, and try to repeat.  Damn, this is getting steep!

Bailing off peak #3
With some belay assistance from a few small pine trees and other shrubbery, we carefully picked (slid?) our way down the steep granite slabs to the valley floor.  It took quite a while to drop the 1800 feet down to the trail, and it was still warming up. 

Unfortunately I stopped taking photographs at this point, so you’ll just have to allow me to drone on for a while.  We followed the trail for a short while until it disappeared in a mass of deadfall, alders and huckleberry bushes.  Occasionally we would pick up an indication that there was a trail (blaze, old cut logs, etc), but for the most part we picked a direction and did our best to bust through.

At some point I heard John’s Camelbak gurgle, indicating he was out of water.  I still had half a quart of Gatorade and ¼ of my bladder, so we shared this as we attempted to negotiate the bushwhack hell we found ourselves wallowing in.  Eventually, the liquid ran out, requiring an emergency spring refill.  Damn, this water was cold and good!

After a short rest hydrating, we continued climbing over the deadfall and under the alders, trying in vain to find the trail but continuing down the valley.  We were each living out this misery in silence, walking for an hour with cramping legs, until we eventually stumbled upon the trail.  After a short, painful (literally) elevation gain, the trail eventually winded its way downhill.  After dropping another 1500 feet over the course of a couple of miles, we crossed Lick Creek Road to the parked truck at approximately 8:30PM.

What a fun adventure!

John's trip report with stats and map: http://www.splattski.com/2015/hum_ridge/index.html

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sawtooth Loop - July 24-26

"Fantastic Lake"
I have always admired the backpacking trips Dave Pahlas (aka Super Dave) has taken over the years, so when he invited me to come along on a 3 day Sawtooth trip, I was all in.  Over the course of a couple of weeks we decided to make a loop around the Decker Peak area.

Grand Mogul from Redfish Lake
Friday morning I met up with Dave and his brother Ken for the 3 hour drive to Redfish Lake.  We then took the shuttle boat across the lake and were on the trail picking huckleberries by 10:30AM.  The first day’s plan was to hike the 092 trail south from Redfish Lake, make a side trip to climb Grand Mogul, and then continue on to a couple of small lakes southeast of Decker Peak.  We made quick time rounding the far end of Redfish Lake and climbing up to the 8200 foot level.  After a quick snack, we allowed Ken to read a book while Dave and I headed for Grand Mogul.

View of the Grand Mogul from our route
The “normal route” up Grand Mogul follows the northeast ridge, but trail 092 had taken us far from the start of this route to directly east of the summit.  We dropped down a steep hillside and then climbed up a steep hillside before entering a cirque at 8600 feet.  From here we boulder hopped our way up the southeast side of the mountain.  As we moved higher, we could make out several voices talking above us and figured they were on the normal route.  We eventually caught up with a couple of guys that were on their way up to the summit, and then met up with another guy from the same group who was on his way down.  What?

D Pahlas photo
After a couple of false starts up promising looking routes, we eventually found the correct ramp that took us to within 50 feet of the summit.  Here again we ran into the other two guys, who were struggling to find the correct line to the top too.  After realizing that they didn’t have a route to the top, we picked the one that we thought would go, and popped out on the 9733’ summit in another minute.  We took a couple of quick summit shots before the other two joined us on top.  
D Pahlas photo

With clouds threatening rain, Dave and I quickly moved down off the summit. As we moved down the mountain, we eventually met up with a total of 7 other guys who had previously summited.  As we moved further down, all we could hear from these guys was, “Rock!” being shouted every couple of minutes.  This just put a spring in our step to get away as quickly as possible.

As we met back up with Ken, the skies opened up with a brief rain shower.  After it passed, it was time to head down the trail.  Unfortunately, the trail meandered through the lodge pole pine for several miles not providing the normal stunning Sawtooth views.  We eventually reached Decker Creek, before the trail turned upwards.  Just before it dropped into Hell Roaring lake we turned west to hike cross country where we reached an unnamed lake at 8620’.  It was 7:00PM and I was tired.  We’d hiked over 8 miles, not including the side trip to Grand Mogul.

Our planned camping spot was still ½ mile away and another 600 feet higher, but the three of us agreed that this little lake would do for the night.
View of the "Huckleberry Wall" from camp in the morning 
After breakfast Saturday morning, we packed up and moved cross country to a pass that overlooked the Finger of Fate and the three lakes to the north.  This was my first view of the “Open Book” rock climbing route on the Finger and it looked Awesome!  Our object this morning was a climb of 10,579’ Dave’s Peak, a seldom climbed summit just to the north of the Sawtooth range’s second highest peak, Mt. Cramer.  Dylan and I climbed Cramer back in 2010. http://fadgenfamily.blogspot.com/2010/08/above-imogene-lake-in-sawtooths.html>

Finger of Fate and the lower lake
The three of us traveled to the east of the Finger and moved up a string of three small lakes between 9400 and 9800 feet.  The second lake, nick-named, “Fantastic Lake,” by a friend of Dave’s the previous year, was indeed spectacular.  

We left Ken at the third lake and started up the southeast ridge of Dave’s Peak.  I could not take my eyes off the “Arrowhead,” which I imagine is one of the “teeth” in the Sawtooths. 
The "Birthday Cake" on the left and the "Coffin" on the right
"The Arrowhead"
The SE ridge of Dave’s Peak wasn’t too steep or loose and we made good time to approximately 10,400’.  Since this peak is seldom climbed there wasn’t much beta on a route, so we improvised.  We started up multiple routes, only to turn back when faced with something that didn’t look appealing.

Dave contemplating our route with Profile Lake below
Making my way up a narrow ramp (D Pahlas photo)
I eventually found a way up to a false summit and couldn’t stop jabbering about the cool looking “window” that was staring me in the face.  Dave dropped down the rock to join me staring out at the Cramer Lakes from this massive window.  

We traversed a couple of thin ramps before encountering a final steep move up to the summit.  Since the peak had Dave’s name written all over it, I allowed him the honor of summiting first.   Like the Grand Mogul, this peak provided plenty of route finding interspersed with a couple of airy class 4 moves.  Nice!

Dave making the final summit scramble
Summit shot (D Pahlas photo)
Cramer Lakes
One of the two goats we saw from Dave's Peak
Heading down
We enjoyed the views at 10,579 feet for a bit before carefully reversing our path down the mountain to rejoin Ken at the highest lake.  Here we split up, with Ken and Dave explored the lakes while I wanted to get a close up of the Finger of Fate’s Open Book route.  I spent 20 minutes watching a couple on the second pitch of the route before dropping down to the lower Finger of Fate lake to wait for others.

Dave surveying the lower Finger of Fate lake and Peak 9583
Once Dave and Ken arrived at the lake, Dave and I were off for our next objective, Peak 9583, just to our north.  There isn’t any beta on this rocky peak, though Dave mentioned reading in a book that the north face (which was directly above our camp Friday night) was called the Huckleberry Wall.  We climbed up to the saddle at 9260 feet where we left our packs that morning and started up the west ridge.  With a little over 300 feet to climb, this peak should have been a piece of cake. We tried to follow the west ridge, but were constantly forced to the north side due to unpassable rock.  The great part about the north side was that it had very loose rock and dropped down at a steep angle to a boulder field below!
The west ridge of Peak 9853 (D Pahlas photo)
Dave making the final scramble
We cautiously picked our way along the north side of the ridge, constantly running into what seemed like insurmountable obstacles.  But, each time we would find a way around these obstacles.  The crux of the climb started with a hidden ledge behind a small stand of scrub pines.  Once we squeezed by these trees, we used other scrub pines to pull ourselves up to be in position for the final 20 foot summit scramble. This last scramble was on solid rock, with a finish that allowed us to touch the summit one at a time.  Another excellent climb!

Dave and I each hanging on to the summit of Peak 9583
The steep climb to the summit
It took us a while to get off the summit and back to our packs.  By the time we made it down, Ken had already left.  So, we picked our way up to our camp for the night, an unnamed lake southeast of Decker Peak at 9400 feet.

We joined Ken at the lake at 7:00PM, pitched our tents and had a nice meal.  As we relaxed, we could see the couple who had been climbing the Open Book route on the Finger of Fate top out in the gathering darkness.  A great way to end another long day.

Like Saturday, we slept in Sunday morning and weren’t on our feet until 9AM.  Our goal today was to get out to a saddle below Decker Peak at 10,000 feet, drop our packs and climb Decker.  We also had the peak on the southern ridge, 10,375, as an additional climb if time allowed.  Once the climbing was done, we would drop down to join Ken at Cramer Lakes for the long march back to Redfish Lake.

Leaving camp
We're going where? (Decker Peak is upper right)
After a short rest Dave and I started up the north ridge of Decker.  The map showed this route to be an easy walk up to the summit.  But maps are deceiving, especially in the Sawtooths.  After an awesome 45 minute, class 3 rock scramble, we made the summit at 10,704 feet.  The summit had great views all around, including Dave’s Peak, and the large window we went by the previous day. 

Summit of Decker

Old summit register
Hmm, where did the time go?  It was now 11AM and we wanted to try and catch the 3PM boat at Redfish.  We still had 2300 feet to drop down to get to Cramer Lakes, so Peak 10,375 was out of the question.  We dropped back down the ridge to our packs, and then slowly made our way down the loose rocks in the cirque below Decker Peak.  After an hour, upper Cramer Lake came into view and a few minutes later we rejoined Ken at the middle Cramer Lake.  I, for one, was glad to be back on a trail!
Almost to Cramer Lakes
A look back at Dave's Peak
We ate our lunches while enjoying the beauty of the lake and waterfall before starting the 8 mile march back to Redfish Lake.  This “march” was uneventful other than we cruised back in 3 hours.  We didn’t make the 3PM boat, but the 5PM boat was early!

A beer and burger in Stanley finished off an excellent weekend with a couple of great guys.

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