Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, May 16, 2016

Big Creek Peak - 11,350'

Last weekend a half dozen adventurous men made a trek to Eastern Idaho for a couple of days of climbing in the Lemhi range.  John P (Splattski), Dave (SuperDave), Michael (Boisedoc) and I met up with Steve and Alex (the math professors) late Friday night at the Big Creek Campground after a 4 hour drive.  It was a gorgeous night - not too cold and the moon was shining bright.  With a 70% chance of precipitation forecast for Saturday afternoon and a planned big day ahead of us, we hit the sack early in preparation of a semi alpine start.

Heading up in the morning
We were walking up the nice trial on the North Fork of Big Creek by 6AM in clear skies.  70% chance or precip?  It sure didn't appear like that was going to happen.  In a little less than a mile, we took a hard right and followed a faint trail up the steep hillside.  This faint trail eventually petered out as snow patches started to appear. 
Dave trying to stay on top of the snow
Michael finding his way through the trees
We skipped around the soft snow patches until we eventually ran out of bare ground.  By this point we were high enough (8500' ?) to where the snow was harder, allowing good travel - most of the time.  I followed the "post hole whisperer" for the most part.  I would detour from his route only when I saw him fall through.  After hearing about the others busting through the snow, I thought this was a pretty good strategy on my part.
The summit is in sight.
Leatherman begging to be skied!
Above treeline at ~10,000 feet we had our choice of routes - stay on the mostly solid snow or climb the tricky talus.  After stumbling around a bit on the talus and realizing it wasn't much fun, I stayed with trying to keep to the snow.  This seemed to be another good plan, as I made good time up the patchy snowfields.  There were a few spots where crampons would have made me feel a bit safer, but there just wasn't enough contiguous snow to warrant them.

John and Dave busting some lungs
John and Michael at the summit
 It was a straightforward, albeit lung buster, walk up to the summit at 11,350', which we gained at 10:30.  The four of us sat around shooting the breeze and fueling up while the waited for the math professors.  Once they showed up it was on to our next objective - Flatiron Mountain at 11, 019'.
Summit shot before the math professors arrived
Of course Dave spotted his usual quota of mountain goats.
Zoomed in on the three goats.
 We headed down the broad southeastern face of Big Creek Peak.  Some of us walked, while others chose to glissade.

I think the glissaders had much more fun!

The snow was still variable, even above 10K feet.  We would make good time across the solid portions of snow, only to fall through on the rotten portions.  This rotten snow necessitated what John called "technical ice crawling".
Yours truly practicing "technical ice crawling" - Photo courtesy of D. Pahlas
We eventually reached the saddle between Big Creek and Flatiron Mountain at ~10,500'.  Now all we had was a short grunt up the 600 feet to the broad summit of Flatiron.

The summit of Flatiron peak (11,019')

A couple of serious avalanche debris fields
Looking back at Big Creek Peak.
At the summit of Flatiron, we were all feeling pretty good about ourselves after climbing our first two 11K peaks this year.  With the clouds building, we took a short break before dropping down the southern face of Flatiron, to climb our third peak of the day - Peak 10571.   This required us to drop a 1000 feet before climbing back up another 600 feet.

Dropping down off Flatiron with Peak 10571 in the foreground
I wasn't feeling too bad after the first two peaks, but this last one required a bit of extra effort.  After all we had been out for a little over 8 hours by this point and had climbed 6000 feet.  From the summit of Peak 10571 we had great views of the two 11ers we had just climbed.    And from the look of things, the 70% chance of precipitation was going to hold off.
Looking back at Big Creek (left) and Flatiron from Peak 10571
 While we were making that long walk down the mountain to the trail head my camera slipped through my fingers.  Off course it landed on a rock causing the LCD screen (viewfinder) to quit.  So at this point I quit taking pictures.  Other than a couple of slips and falls between us all, the walk down the mountain was uneventful and we arrived back at camp at 6PM.

Time: 12 hours (camp to camp)
Distance: 11 miles
Elevation: 6000'

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