Monday, October 19, 2009

No. 67, Deep Creek Peak

I wanted to go somewhere close to Pocatello, with a little less vertical than the 4,000+/trip I've done in recent weekends. Deep Creek Peak is the highpoint of the Deep Creek mountains in southeast Idaho that lie between Arbon and Rockland Valleys.

I planned on going solo but asked Margie, who's knee deep in sanding and staining her deck, to go. Putting added pressure on her, I mentioned that the peak was Maka (her dog) friendly. It wasn't until Saturday night that I found out that she had picked up the pace, finished her deck, and that I'd be having company.

Being overconfident in the peak's accessibility and straightforward route (per Dan's trip report), I opted not to download a map to the gps or print out a trip report, but I did bring Tom Lopez's book, with plans to use it for driving directions. Margie said she had been on the road and in that area before, so that was good enough for me. The route is 5 miles roundtrip, with a summit elevation of 8,748 ft and 2,000 vertical to get there, similar to our local Scout Mountain and Bonneville Peak, so we left Pocatello at 7:00 a.m. with expectations to be back by early afternoon.

After leaving I-86, we had the two-lane highway south through Arbon Valley to ourselves. Dawn was trying to break through the clouds when all the sudden, there he was, in the middle of our lane, a buck whose back was higher than the hood of her SUV. I didn't even have a chance to utter anything, I just looked over at Margie to see if she was seeing him, and her audible gasp answered my question. I had no more than a split second to look back at him to see if impact was inevitable. Margie was just processing her evasive action, when he decided he should move, quick. We passed him without getting a chance to swerve and within an inch of his rear. Margie could see his hair move in the swish of our passing.

Well it's a shame her heart rate monitor wasn't turned on, because I'm sure it would have belied her calm exterior. After some conversation about how much it would have sucked to fix her front end a second time, within months of the first time, we continued watching for his friends and looking for our turnoff.

Soon we were on Knox Canyon road, heading to the start of our ascent route. On the way we saw hunters with horses, hunters with atvs, and hunters with no plans to be more than 100 yards from their rigs for any reason (i.e., illegal road hunting, lovely). The biggest disappointment to me was to see how littered and dirty looking everything was within viewing distance of the road. I am convinced there are two classes of hunters. One class with, and one without. At least in this area, there seem to be a lot of hunters in that latter class.

Tom's book indicated that we were looking for an "intersection" of sorts on a "crest" (one way) or (traveling from the opposite direction)a "pass." And pass we did...the pass, that is (p.s. consistent terminology is really important, it's either a pass or a crest from either direction...yes I would love a climbing guide editing me). We understood we'd be doing a west approach on the peak, so we figured we needed to descend the road some more to reach said intersection. So without looking in the rear-view mirror, we kept going and traveled all the way to the north-south highway in the next (Rockland) valley, and the sign there told us, that we were on the Big Canyon road. Yep, just east-wested the entire range.

The error was obvious and we set the trip-o-meter to backtrack the 9 or so miles (per Tom' s book) where we suspected we should be. And, at about 9 miles, we were at the blue pickup hunter truck we saw on the way down. Must be here. We pulled in next to the truck.

We piled out, donned gear, and tried to make apparel decisions for the not-so-good-of-a-weather day we didn't expect but we were clearly going to get. Donning gear concluded with red shirts (hunter protection) all around...Maka included.

[I don't purposely try to hike or not hike during hunting season. It is something I don't really pay much attention to as in, I thought back at my the house, "Hum...there may be hunters out, hum, but i have no red or orange, hum...this is pretty much a ridge hike and I have a bright yellow backpack. Good enough." ]

So without looking in the rear-view mirror (i.e., behind us), we start off, 9:30, by crossing the road and immediately hiking up a steep hill, with no faint jeep trail noticeable (something I remember reading in a trip report somewhere). Then we're quickly in a very brushy section, sidehilling, with our first views of one of the multiple little peaks we'd go up and over before we would reach the summit. But something was bothering me. I kept looking ahead trying to see the ridge route that would be the majority of our climb and was seeing nothing other than more brush and heavy forest. Just not what I expected. I suggested we move from the sidehill to the top of the ridge above us and get a better look around. By then, we actually turned around and saw the peak we were supposed to be climbing, across the gully, the start visible less than 1/2 mile further up the road. So, down we went, and now with a 0.6-mi hill warm up under our boots and paws, we piled back in the car, moved it up the road, piled out and tried again.

It was at this point that the jeep trail was more than noticeable and as we continued, the route manifested as Dan describes in his trip report, "The hike starts out of a brushy, semi-forested ridge, that provides a challenge as it roller coasters up to the peak itself. Once on the mountain, the ridge becomes bare and a very easy terrain to hike." Spot on, Dan.

We discovered that Maka loves, among other things, tracking the trail, and she lead us the whole way. She was a little confused around a rock outcrop where numerous game trails exist. At that point we had to keep directing her upwards. Finally in the all too common blasting southeast Idaho winds, and significantly cooler temperatures than anticipated, we summited with plans to tag-off, take photos, and descend to a lunch spot that was out of the wind.

Even on this overcast day, there was at least 100 miles visibility. Bannock Peak (on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation) is a distinctive pyramidal shape, to the north, and this was my closest look at it from a mountaineering standpoint. Non-Native Americans are not allowed on the peak without permission from the Tribal Council, which I have learned through two attempts isn't (probably ever) granted. Mt. Harrison, and Cache and Independence Peaks were visible on the southwest. A dusting of snow was visible on Black Peak and Black Pine Peak to the south, which we'd summited a couple weeks before. The Lemhis were still snowcapped, Big Southern Butte had lost its snow, and the sun was shining on the Pioneers to the northwest.

The ascent was uneventful, just windy. On the descent, within about 20 minutes of the car, my left hiking pole collapsed sending me to the ground in a very hard side ankle roll. So i gimped a bit on the way out with new appreciation for "Margo tight," when adjusting the poles, not being tight enough. There were lots of shots taken by hunters but not at or near us. The only downside, if any, was the lost time caused by us not finding the trail head on first try (because I didn't download any coordinates/maps, lesson learned), and that sour melon poweraid is REALLLLY terrible.

It took us 5 minutes longer to complete the route than Dan and Zach. Including summit time and we were quite pleased. We do agree with Dan that this is a good early season hike/conditioner once the road is open. So keep this in mind for next spring.
More photos here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rainier 2000. Older trip report for a mountain that is still there...

Somewhere over the years in migrating to two newer computers, I lost files, important files, files I didn't want to lose. One of the older files I found was this trip report of my climb of Mt. Rainier. I corrected a couple words and deleted a sentence; otherwise, it is the original account written in 2000. A modified version with an assortment of the team's photos lived on the internet on ISU's Outdoor Program website for a long time, but it disappeared before I even thought to copy the photos. So all I have left are the photos pasted in the physical album and the few herein. My hope is to preserve the trip here, and maybe be able to track down and rescue the rest of the photos.

I lived in Bremerton, Washington, from 1983 to 1987. Jeremy was three, and I was primarily a stay-at-home mom. I was an aerobic instructor at the Bangor Military Base, and though I was interested in hiking, I never had any aspirations to climb anything. After all I was from Ohio, and it was already a big deal that I was living out west, let alone participating in any “extreme pursuits.” The first time I had an inkling to climb anything was on a hiking trip to upper Lena Lake. It was a long hike, and maxed out Jeremy, who had to be carried the last 20 minutes. The hike terminated at a small, beautiful alpine lake. Mt. Lena watched over us and appeared to be an easy scramble, albeit exposed. I remember commenting to my (ex-) husband that it would be interesting to climb to the top. He looked at me rather incredulously. So much for that thought.

Mount Rainier, at 14,410 ft, is the most heavily glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. Reaching the summit requires a vertical elevation gain of more than 9,000 ft over a distance of eight or more miles, depending on the route. In 1999, 10,919 people attempted to climb Mount Rainier; 5,255 summited. A large number of ascents are made by Pacific Northwest locals who attempt the 9,000-ft vertical climb from sea level, with varying degrees of success. Other attempts are made by Highpointers, as Rainier is Washington’s highest peak, and international climbers, training for something bigger. To these nonlocals, Rainier is just another peak. Nothing particularly special, just long and unpredictable. But to the “locals,” which I had been, Rainier is so much more. Bruce Barcott, in Measure of a Mountain, Beauty and Terror on Mount Rainier, states it best:

The local vernacular admits only one “Mountain,” and when Rainier rises we tell each other, “The Mountain is out.” Mount Rainier is at once the most public symbol of the Pacific Northwest and its most sacred private icon. A friend once disclosed that she says a prayer whenever she sees it. A stranger I met on its high southern flank told me, “you must love this mountain as much as I do,” but his reverent tone of voice told me I couldn’t. Lou Whittaker, who has climbed Rainier more than one hundred fifty times, told me about returning home from a Himalayan expedition and catching sight of the mountain, and feeling it snap his breath clean away. …We look at Rainier and regard the vastness of God; yet we look at it and claim it as our own.

In 1983, I fell in love at first sight with Rainier; I looked for him everyday; he had become “my” mountain.

I actually had an opportunity to attempt the summit with an outdoor program class at a local community college. I was in excellent physical condition at the time, but had no mountaineering experience. I felt out of my league, and without any friends interested in joining me, I lacked the confidence to go so far as to even sign up for the class. It would not be until 1995, after having summited, with Bob, my first “real” mountain in Idaho, that I expressed to him my interest in climbing this “peak” in Washington State. I think it blew him away when he read about the mountain.

In 1996, I suggested our vacation be to the Pacific Northwest. In all Bob’s travels, it was one area of the country he had not seen. We started in North Bend (off Snowqualmie Pass); traveled to downtown Seattle and explored the city, waterfront, and the infamous Pike’s Place Market; headed to the San Juan islands; stopped over in Victoria, B.C.; crossed over to the peninsula, visited friends in Bremerton; and “swung by” Rainier to climb to base camp and scout things out for a future summit attempt.

Having spent a week at sea level, the climb to Camp Muir, at 10,000 ft, became difficult for me around 9,000 ft. I got a headache, a bad one. When we reached camp, outside of using the rest room, I never moved from my seat on a rock until it was time to descend. I felt better as I made my way down, but also made a mental note to make a summit attempt directly from the higher altitude of Idaho, and save the sea-level sightseeing for later.

In 2000, and less than one week after a successful Mt. Moran summit in Wyoming, Bob and I were on our way to Washington to attempt Rainier with an ISU common adventure group. There were 12 people signed up for the trip, and one leader. Not a good ratio, and earlier that summer I had been advised by friends to consider pulling out of the trip and trying it another year, with a smaller group. I was convinced and tried to change Bob’s mind. But he was very practical about it all. We would go with the group, and if we were not comfortable with the situation then we would break away from the group and attempt the summit together or retreat, whatever was prudent.

We arrived at Paradise Visitor Center/ranger station, on August 7th, and I was sent ahead (because I am slow and I knew where I was going) while Bob waited for ISU’s van. They arrived an hour late, and after a second hour of preparation, Bob and the group headed up behind me. It was beautiful weather, sunny and warm. Bob had left the main group and by mid-afternoon caught up with me, and we climbed the last 1,000 ft together. We set up our camp and by late afternoon everyone else had arrived and set up camp at Muir, where up to 110 people may stay per night

At this point two of the women decided not to make the summit attempt the next morning. One woman had recently had knee surgery and had only intended to get to Muir. Another woman had tried before, gotten sick, and turned her entire group around (it is standard practice for an entire rope team to turn around if one member gets sick). She didn’t want to be responsible for turning another group around, and we were appreciative of her decision.

It was time to group into teams. We wanted to be on a strong team. I felt I could keep myself going, but didn’t know if I could handle being turned around by someone weaker. Fortunately, Bob arranged for us to be on a rope team with Todd, a climber and guide, who drove out from Colorado for this trip. Todd would lead the two of us, and we would be the second of the three teams.

I had read a trail report in the shelter, which I assumed everyone else had seen, that directed climbers to start earlier than normal and be back at camp by 10:00 a.m., because the long period of warm weather had made rockfall/icefall danger extremely high. Therefore, I was voting to leave camp by 10:00 p.m. However, everyone else wanted to wake up at midnight (the standard time) to begin the hike up. So, having been out voted, midnight, August 8th, came and went and it was 1:45 a.m. when our three rope teams joined several other teams for the climb.

Crampons on and ice axes in hands we made our way over and around small crevasses, a 200-ft section of bare rock, and then an aluminum ladder “bridge” that crossed a narrow, but deep (we would see later) crevasse. We jumped over several other crevasses, still in the dark, as we headed toward the Ingraham Direct route. We passed high camp and its sleeping occupants, and we saw an absolutely beautiful and unobstructed view of sunrise on the earth’s east horizon.

We had originally planned to ascend the Disappointment Cleaver route, the most popular route on the mountain, but warm weather, rock and icefall, and detours around crevasses made it a less appealing choice. The Ingraham Direct is a Grade I/II route (strenuous, rock and ice fall, 35 to 40 degree snow and ice slopes, altitude) and had been the most traveled route to the summit in past weeks. A clearly marked, well-defined boot track was in place all the way to the crater rim. This route also avoided the traverse to the Disappointment Cleaver and the notorious rockfall hazard associated with the cleaver. However, the Direct is not the safest route, as it was the scene of a serious accident in early June involving natural, spontaneous icefall. Further, a section of the boot track above Ingraham Flats, we were told, is routinely swept with icefall, even in the morning. Climbing parties were being advised to “move quickly through areas exposed to icefall and seriously consider their level of acceptable risk before exposing their team to objective hazards.” The Ingraham Direct cuts right above 12,000 ft to join up with the Disappointment Cleaver route near the top of the cleaver. Though we had chosen the Ingraham “Direct” route, it required an extra hour detour to circumvent a large crevasse on the upper snowfield.

At 13,000 ft I hit the wall; I was exhausted. This had become the hardest physical effort I had ever undertaken. I had to count my steps...first to 100, but quickly to 50, then only to 30 before stopping a moment to get my mind off how tired I was and how badly I wanted to sit for awhile. Well, I didn’t have to persevere much longer it turned out, because I should have recalibrated my altimeter at Muir...we reached Columbia Crest and the huge summit crater half an hour later. We dropped our packs, grabbed a snack, and headed across to Rainier’s true summit.

It was truly exciting to be at the top of a mountain that you wanted to climb for a long time. I choked back the lump in my throat and checked out our surroundings. To the south we could see Mts. St. Helens, Adams, Hood, and Bachelor; to the north Baker and Olympus were clear, but Seattle and everything below these peaks was covered from our view with the Pacific Ocean’s motherly blanket of clouds.

We conversed with other climbers; a fellow from Germany took our group pictures. Bob even heard a conversation a fellow in his early 20s was having with his mom on his cellular phone. After telling her he was on the summit of Rainier, Bob heard him tell his mom, “No mom, this is a pretty big mountain; I won’t be home for supper tonight.” We took photos, lots of them, we signed the register (I left my Portage golf tee in the register box), and we crossed the crater to begin our descent to Muir.

It was 11:00 a.m., it was very warm, and from what, apparently, only I had read, we were supposed to back in camp already. The dangerous part of our climb hadn’t occurred yet. We started down.

It was bright, sunny, and very warm. The snow balled under our crampons with each step we took and caused us all to lose our footing and descend in a semislide-step fashion. I noticed at times that my steps landed on very thin patches of glacier that looked like they would break any second, and I pointed them out to Bob behind me.

We had to stop often on our way down so Shane, our leader, could get on his hands and knees and gently probe with his ax to test the integrity of the crossings we’d carefreely plodded over just a few hours before. Seemingly oblivious to the hazards, a couple rope teams loped/ran past us. It seemed inappropriate to go off trail and descend as they were, with the risk of falling into a hidden crevasse at any moment, but they looked like they had a strategy and experience. Their method did not seem to interest any of our team, but their haste caught our attention.

We reached the Ingraham Headwall (which wasn’t the way we planned to come down, but we had missed our turn) at approximately noon. It is a very beautiful but deadly place. You could clearly see the avalanche and rockfall runouts from the headwall, and you could also see that our trail was going to go through them and meander next to them the entire way down. We heard the rumbling of the moving glacier and saw and heard the terror of rockfall, against the peaceful melting of the snow and ice into hidden glacial streams. You could also feel your personal anxiety rise. This was the real thing.

In hindsight, (aside from me sharing the information about leaving early that I had read in the shelter) we should have had a quick group meeting before we entered the headwall area. The conversation should have been very pointed, “See that teeny, tiny spot, way over there? We don’t stop moving through this section until we get there, and we move fast.”

If you’ve ever read Into Thin Air, or other similar stories, you ask yourself, how did those people get in that situation?…if I were there I would have (fill in the blank). I’ve thought the same, but in reality something very different happens. We stopped three times through this section where objective hazards (snow, ice, and rockfall, and opening crevasses) were in charge. I never knew why we were stopping, but I had no interest in it. I wanted to tell our team, “Let’s pass everyone and get out of here.” I felt, and heard, the same anxiety in others, while I think a few team members had no true idea what a high-risk situation we were in. But in mountaineering the unspoken rules are: we are a team, we have a leader, we follow, we do not ditch the same people we hope will pull our butts out of a crevasse because we did not agree with their pace or the number of stops they make. At the same time, I am in the middle of our rope, and having a running conversation in my head, “What am I going to do if Todd (in front) runs in a different direction than Bob (in back) when this slides?” I could just see myself trapped and suspended in the middle of the path of the slide like a pendant on a necklace. But other than some glacier rumblings and another rockfall event (well away from where we were), we got through to high camp without mishap.

We now approached the crevasses we had jumped over in the dark. They were pretty much the same width, but the snow was much softer and you could see how deep they were. So we jumped with more conviction, axes at the ready, and it was only the last person in our party who broke through the landing that all of us noticed when we jumped was thin. He was prepared and had enough velocity in his jump to keep himself from becoming a crevasse rescue. So, on we went…to the bridge.

It was an 8-ft aluminum ladder with two 1 x 4”s laid over the rungs and all lashed together with webbing. There was a fixed line parallel to it that had functioned as a hand rail, of sorts, that morning. The ladder crossed a crevasse with no bottom. It had been a “never mind” to cross in the dark, but it sure looked different now. The fixed line was no longer secure and not an option to use. Axe still at the ready, my first step on the ladder was a slip, as the snow had balled under my crampons and afforded no footing. I quickly leapt backwards and off the ladder to clear my crampons and try again. The second attempt went better, but unlike earlier that morning, the warm temperatures and the wet wood grabbed the crampons on every step. It was an exciting few steps and I was across, and then so was Bob, and then so was the rest of our party.

I finally breathed.

We returned to Muir where everyone napped, except Bob, who busied himself with putting away gear and cooking. At sunset the winds, of which Rainier is so infamous, picked up and while Bob slept through it all I was pelted with the side of the tent all night.

Before sunrise the wind grew even stronger. Our tent was flapping on both of us and I tried to wake Bob once with my concerns. It wasn’t until the pole snapped and the tent collapsed on us that I fully got his attention. He went outside to check out the situation, but it became clear our only option was to take down the tent and retreat to Rainier’s winter shelter. As we were breaking camp we saw a tent, of a party gone on a summit attempt, blow clear off the mountain. They were not going to be happy when they got back.

Getting to the shelter was no easy task for me. The shelter was only 50 ft away, but in high winds, carrying gear, I literally had to hold on to rocks I passed just to stay upright. Quickly, our whole group tore down camp and became shelter refugees.

We began the second part of our descent in the same high winds, but approximately 1,000 ft lower the winds subsided. Bob skied down the Muir snowfield (rugged as it was) and I tried to glissade, but the snow was too soft and warm. I got going a couple times, but eventually just had to stand back up and trudge. After Bob reached the end of the snowfield he actually climbed back up 1,000 ft to take my pack down, and then he climbed the 1,000 ft again just to ski unencumbered. We completed the hike, down the thousands of stairs (I tried to count them in ’96), and the paved trail, back to the parking lot.

After packing the vehicles, cleaning up, a beer in the bar, and T-shirt shopping, the rest of our group left and Bob and I played “tourists” the rest of the afternoon, watching the Rainier movie, strolling through the exhibits, and looking at the mountain through the periscope in the observation building. I think we really had the full experience, and yes, we’d do it again.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

No. 66 - Al West IdahoSummits Fall 2009 Outing.

This is Al West Peak (snowy dome in the center). It was the Plan B trip when Plan A, Pyramid Peak in the Pioneers, became inaccessible with 2 ft of snow on the road.

(Click any photo for a larger picture.)

Nine folks from the site made the trip: John, Pat, Dave, Eric, Michael, Aaron, Steve, IdahoSummits site creator-Dan, and me. I've wanted to meet these guys for a long time. I read the board a lot a post a little, and they've been very helpful with their wealth of Idaho mountain knowledge and climbing experience. I've been amazed and inspired by their accomplishments and really thought I might be overstepping my abilities by joining them. Finally, I decided that there was nothing to lose. I would get to meet everyone, and if everything went well, then I would meet everyone and successfully summit. I went over Friday evening to camp and spent a fun night listening to stories, finding out what folk did for a living, hearing about their families, discussing gear, eating, drinking and getting ready for the day ahead.

The next morning Aaron and Michael pulled in and we got underway at 8:00 a.m. in 15 degrees. We spent about an hour or so navigating back and forth lower Rock Creek canyon, the creek itself, and a lot of brush. It was shady and cold and we couldn't wait to get into the sun.

We came out to an opening and saw a better view of the ridges and walls between us and the summit. Well, it was at this point where we decided to break into two groups. One group would do the planned route (John, Dan, Michael, Steve and me) and the other (Pat, Dave, Aaron, Eric) would break new ground.
My group continued on, John in the lead, side-hilling in the snow until we reached the sunshine and a steep gully with perfect snow for kick stepping (sorry the video is in sepia, an effect I didn't purposely choose...cold fingers and little slippery buttons aren't a good match). We continued up the gully and took a break in the trees from what had become a pretty strong, cold steady wind. After a quick break, Michael took off ahead to the rocky crux ridge.

Dan and I followed a few minutes later, and Steve and John started up afterward. It turned out it wasn't going to be Steve's day. He and I were both plagued by frozen camelbacks, but I had put mine down the front of my shirt for most the way and got a little cooperation out of it. With not enough energy to safely summit, Steve posed for a photo on his personal summit on the higher snowfield and then headed down on his own.

John quickly caught up with Dan and reached me as I was starting into the crux moves.

John lead through the crux, and the catwalk, and took these great photos.

After the crux section we were faced with a long open face ascent. Michael was way ahead of all of us (see the red circle on the photo), John ahead of me, and Dan a few minutes behind me. The wind seemed to increase as each of us summitted, in turn, and solo.

I touched the cairn and took my gloves off to take a summit panorama with my camera and also my Ipod. I couldn't even get the Ipod video to turn off because it was so cold the buttons weren't responding, which was the same problem I had with the camera. I literally "listened" for the camera click and then rotated and took another photo. I was holding on to both the camera and the Ipod tightly because of the wind. Excuse the fingers...(two improvements Apple, the placement of the lens and an attachment for an optional lanyard)...Turn the video off after 40 seconds...I'm fighting to turn it off for the rest of the time.

My Splattski shot for posterity with Borah's North Face in the background. As quick as I was in taking the photos and the video, I felt the beginning of the unmistakable numbing and loss of feeling that accompanies initial frostbite, unlike I've experienced before. I got my gloves on, did some quick windmills and headed down as quick as I could, passing Dan on his way up.

My hands warmed by the time I meet John who was seated on some rocks to wait for Dan. So I headed off to meet them down lower. The snow was great for plunge stepping and the descent was quick. With Michael having long gone, the three of us regrouped at the crux (this photo is of the other side of the catwalk to show that it dropped off on both sides). John lead. We retraced our steps and, thanks to Michael, had tracks for a slightly better down climb on the very lower end of the crux than what we had on the way up.

When we reached the snow fields it was too soft for glissading. Even the gully was a no-go, though lower down Dan took advantage of a little slide he found. We retraced our steps until we were again down into the canyon. At that point, John took off and Dan and I hiked back into camp together...and look at the great view of Mt. Borah we had from camp!

John reported this trip as 11 miles, while my gps is only claiming 9, but it felt every bit of 11 to me. We were gone 9 1/4 hrs car to car without much of a break all day. My heart rate monitor never registered anything, except running time, because my camelback blocked the signal all day and it was too cold to bother with it. I had water all the way up, but the small amount of time on the summit froze it for the rest of the day.

I didn't really even notice...Boy...what a great climb!

Thanks to all the IdahoSummits guys for such a great trip...Dan for your planning, John for your lead through the crux and tips, Steve for the great cooking, all of you for your humor and graciousness. If it turns out that I am the first woman on an IdahoSummits outing, then I am well beyond honored. You're a great group.

I uploaded all of my pictures, Pat's and John's photos as well (I gave you photo credits) to my Picasa site, where you can see them all together and the captions tell the story as well.

Dan's Trip Report

Dave's Trip Report

Splattski's Trip Report

Steve's Photos

Take a Google Earth Tour of our route

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No. 65, South Wet Creek Peak, Lost River Range, Idaho

I was hoping for another 2-fer weekend, because I've had three in a row and because I'm making up for a late mountaineering season. The goal today (9/27/09) was South Wet Creek Peak and Wet Creek Peak in the east end of the Lost River Range, accessed via Pass Creek summit. So with that in mind I asked a friend, Bryan, if he'd like to join me. He had done Mt. Borah a few times many years ago (and as I would find out this day, he hiked 13 miles the day before, geez). Well for a nice, introductory, non-Borah mountaineering experience, I probably couldn't have picked worse....10 miles round trip, and 4,100 elevation gain over 5 miles...but I have a tendency to not look at the "details" until after the climb. Regardless, having been in the basin two weeks before, I knew it could be a long approach, long day. So we took off on an early start, in crisp morning air, under a clear sky that promised to stay with us all day.

The approach started on developed Forest Service trails from the trail head through fir/pine forest to Bear Lake.

After the lake, most of the hike was through a sunshine-filled gully that was long and energy sapping. By this point we had seen 9 deer.

Having reached and crossed the relatively flat basin, it was time to make the final climb to the summit that, in this photo, is further back on the right-hand peak, out of view. It was on this approach that we saw a bighorn sheep, across the way, on the ridge of Hidden Peak.

It was later than I had hoped when we reached the summit, and timewise, I was concerned about going after the second peak. Bryan was already stretched out on the summit to watch me go it alone. Well, the gully had hammered me as well, and tempting as it was, I elected to pass on my 2-fer opportunity. We found a register with signatures back from 1992, so we added our names to that. Bryan took some fabulous photos on the summit for posterity; I took a sapphire (my nano's name) panorama; we had wine (the little 4-pack bottles are perfect for day hikes), cheese and crackers; and headed back down.

It's not everyone's thing, but I have tried to introduce willing adventurers to the mountains. So few people really get the opportunity, which I was fortunate to have been given in the 90s. The mountains are very spiritual for me and make my everyday problems sooo small when I see the enormity of God's handiwork in this beautiful State. I hope they become as special to the very least they can say, "Hey, i climbed that." I am blessed to still be able to participate in this sport that I love so much. I never thought I'd have had the ability to summit 1, let alone 65 mountains...i wonder if i have 35 more in me...that would be cool.

Make that South Wet CREEK Peak and Wet CREEK Peak...kept forgetting the "creek" in the names.