Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Monday, June 15, 2020

My First Visit to the Ruby Mountains - Mount Gilbert - 11,120 feet

With the NOAA predicting a 70% chance of precip in the Lost River Range for Saturday, it was time for a change in venue.  Michael suggested we head south of Elko to climb in the Ruby Mountains, and with sunny skies predicted Dave and I were in!

We left Boise at 5AM and did our best to dodge the thunderstorms to the west. With Dave driving, we made the four hour drive to Elko in 3.5 hours.  After a quick stop in town, we were soon driving up Lamoille Canyon toward the trailhead.  I had last been in the canyon in February of 2018 to ski Terminal Cancer with Dylan.  Though the area was green, the charred, leafless aspens showed the remnants of the fire that had devastated the area in the fall of 2018.

The skies were relatively clear and the wind was blowing pretty good as we walked the road through the church camp before finding Right Fork of Lamoille Creek trail.

Our first view of our peak while approaching the church camp
Michael hadn't told us much about Mount Gilbert on the drive down, and I was stunned when it came into view.  It looked like it was going to be a good day!
Beaver ponds in the creek

We stayed to the left of the creek for a couple of miles until the trail leveled out in the glacial valley.  With the wind still howling, we found a spot to cross the creek.  Dave hopped across the creek while Michael and I chose to stimulate our lower legs with the snow melt.

Once across the creek, we just picked a line on climbers left, trying to stay out of the many small waterfalls to our right.  The going was steep, and it was a route finder's dream picking our way up through the many rock outcroppings.
Michael coming up a steep chute
Dave negotiating the rock outcroppings
 Three hours after starting, we arrived at the upper snowfield, at roughly 10,000', and transitioned to crampons and ice axes.  We knew from past trip reports that the "direct route" entailed crossing the snowfield from left to right before heading straight up.  And that was just what we did.
Upper snowfield - we crossed just above the trees
The snow was in good shape for mid June.  Though the cool/cold temperatures, stiff wind and now high cloud cover, definitely helped out.  It was also surprising steep!
Good snow climbing

After carefully crossing the snow, we removed our crampons and started the scrambling section.  I popped over a small rock rib and startled a nanny and kid.  They were gracious enough to pose for the camera before walking out of sight.

Now it was just a matter of picking your line and heading up the remaining 600 feet.  Dave and Michael stayed left, while I chose a line to the right.  A couple of class 4 moves mixed in with the steady class 3 climbing had me thinking I should have stayed with the others, but I eventually pulled over one last rock and saw Dave standing on the summit. 
Dave contemplating his next move
A minute later I was on top enjoying the views.  Michael joined up a minute after.  Surprisingly, the steady wind we'd had all day had stopped.  Michael played name that peak as we sat on top eating lunch.  It had taken us a little over 5 hours to reach the summit and I was a bit famished.

Summit Splattski

Mt Fitzgerald and Snow Lake Peak (along with a few more)
Seitz Lake with the town of Spring Creek on the valley floor
Since neither Dave nor I had been in the Ruby Mountains, we were stunned by the beauty and number of peaks.  Then, as if on cue, the wind started blowing again and it was time to head down.
Carefully heading down
Going down took about as long as going up.  We had to carefully pick our way down the class 3 rocks, walk down the steep snowfield, and then continue down the rock outcroppings all the while trying to stay erect.

We all breathed sighs of relief when we made it back to the creek.
Our route up
This one had it all - beaver ponds, mountain goats, a creek crossing, steep/solid rock, snow climbing and good friends!

Dave's trip report can be found here.

Distance: 9 miles
Elevation: 4400 feet
Time: 9 hours car-car

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