Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Peak 6985 Attempt

Summits: None
Date: 05/13/2018
Range: Salmon River Mountains
Elevation Gain: 2100'
Distance: 7.6 miles

I was hoping to try a snowshoe out in the southern Sawtooths or White Clouds but with rain forecasted I figured snowshoeing would be quite unpleasant.  I decided to head out north of Garden Valley to attempt Peak 7660 and Peak 6985 since I enjoyed my hike to nearby Rattlesnake Point the day before.  I think Peak 6985 deserves some sort of name and Silver Creek Rock/Peak seems like a good fits but I will let someone else name it.

After driving through some rain I was looking for a good spot to park and found one.  After walking along the road to the trailhead I realized the road was quite nice and rushed back to my car and drove close to a mile to the trailhead.  I decided to follow the trail to Silver Creek Summit and take the west ridge to the summit.  Perhaps I should have Google Earthed this hike.  Getting to Silver Creek Summit was easy but I did some  class 3 climbing on granite rock.  The clouds had moved in and it started to rain.  Once on the top of the ridge I realized I made a mistake and was very close to the summit of Peak 6985.  The summit looked like a fun class 4 climb.  I climbed about 15' on questionable handhelds and made another move to climb up for the final few feet to the ledge below the summit.  I think I was about 30 to 40 feet below the summit.  Instead of climbing I fell around 15' before I could curse.

Immediately I knew I had some cuts on my head as blood was dripping off my head.  To assess the damage I turned on my phone camera in selfie mode and it was not pretty.  After realizing I had no major bleeding I thought I escaped major injuries.  Well not so fast.  There was a price to pay for my bad decision.  Although extremely lucky, I felt a surge of pain in my right hand when I put my pack back on.  I assumed it was broken and that later was confirmed.  Knowing I had no life threatening injuries, I grabbed a few photos before heading down.  I walked through the snow and climbed up over a tricky class 3 section.  After that I could not down climb a 7 or 8 foot drop so I jumped and landed on my right side without any injuries.  After that the only obstacle was bushwhacking through thick brush.  Once at the trail I quickly descended to the stream where I tried to wash out the blood but to no avail.  The wounds were essentially rock burn so water did not do much good to wash off the blood.  Luckily no one was on the trail so I avoided scaring a few people.  Once back to my truck I cleaned up a little but not nearly as much as I would have liked.

The drive out was slow although the road was not bad except for a few potholes.  The sharp turns required slow driving on a narrow road.  My first thought was to head for the Eagle Urgent Care but I ended up going to one in Nampa since I knew they were open.  They took one look at me and essentially said "nice try, but the ER is right down the street".  At the ER I found out my hand was broken and I got a few stitches under my nose. Luckily those were only injuries other than a bunch of cuts, abrasions, and a good sized bump on my noggin.  I still got home in time to call my mom on Mother's Day to tell her I had a wonderful hike.

My accident was a good reminder to not take chances, especially when hiking alone.  It was a stupid mistake on my part and I was lucky to not to get banged up worse than I did.  Two days later Tom L. and John P. decided to try out the peak with a rope but they ended up turning around After encountering a 10' pitch without handholds (  I will not let my injuries slow me down too much.  The next day I ran 5.5 miles with nearly 1300' of elevation gain in the foothills after work.

Rock where I fell off of, was a few feet below the top

Summit of Peak 6985

Another view of Peak 6985
Silver Creek

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Nicholson Peak

Summits: Nicholson Peak - 11,060'
Date: 05/06/2018
Range: Lemhi
Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 4300'
Time: 7.25 hours

The southern Lemhis typically have less snow than other nearby ranges and Nicholson Peak is accessed from its southwest ridge.  After failing to the reach the summit of King Mountain due to questionable snow stability, I decided to try my luck on Nicholson Peak.  I doubt that any slides on King Mountain would have been large but it does not take much for a slide to occur with serious consequences.  The drive over to the trailhead took a while as the approach roads had plenty of large rocks.

Around 6:30 am I was on my feet and decided to take my snowshoes and ice axe with me.  The first part was a steep climb through the sagebrush to a forested ridge.  Once in the woods the terrain was slightly more gradual but not by much.  Luckily the climb to the southwest ridge of Nicholson was mostly snow free.  I chose to do some optional class 3 climbing on top of the ridge and ended up staying directly on top of the ridge for a while.  After some class 3+ climbing I decided to descend around 100' south of the ridge to avoid class 4 climbing which would be tricky with snowshoes on my pack.  That ended up working out well and I only encountered a little bit of snow.  Just before the final 900' climb to the summit I put on my snowshoes for 200 feet to go through some soft and deep snow.  The last section was steep but the scree was not bad at all compared to some of the Lost River and Boulder Mountain peaks that I have done.  The views on top were spectacular.  Diamond Peak loomed to the north and Bell Mountain also looked impressive.  To the southeast I noticed Peak 10965 and thought about going for it since it was just under a mile away with an additional 500' of gain or more.  Since I had a long drive back I decided against it but would have gone for it if there was no snow.  Little Diamond Peak looked quite impressive with deep snow on its north face.  It was windy on top so I ate lunch about 200' below the summit.  I decided to take my time on the descent to take in the views and to take plenty of photos.  Once again I did some class 3+ climbing to descend the ridge.  It was so warm that I took off my pants (shorts underneath) but I did that a bit early as I waded through waist-deep snow in shorts.  Luckily that section was short and I made good time getting back to my truck.

It turned out to be another great day in the mountains and a great weekend.  Although I did not reach the summit of King Mountain it was still an enjoyable hike with great views.
Nicholson Peak was my first elevener of the year with my last being Galena Peak at the tail end of last October.  I hope to be back to the Lemhis soon despite the long drive.  Bell Mountain and The Riddler are on my to-do list and Little Diamond Peak is too.

View of the Lost Rivers with the sun rising
Peak 10965
Nicholson Peak 
Little Diamond Peak
Diamond Peak
Class 3-4 Ridge
Summit Selfie

Friday, April 27, 2018

McGowan Peak

Summits: McGowan Peak - 10,740' and Peak 9330
Date: 04/22/2018
Range: Lost Rivers
Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 4200'
Time: 8 hours (it was a long 5.5 miles)

I have looked at McGowan Peak for a while and with the route on southern facing slopes it seemed doable for a spring climb.  Splattski, John F., Super Dave, and Michael did McGowan Peak and Peak 9330 in February so I knew it would be a good candidate for an early season climb.  It was finally warm enough to camp comfortably so I headed to McGowan Creek Rd after doing Mackay Peak.

I was expecting sub-freezing temperatures but the morning was warmer than I thought, and likely above freezing.  I started hiking shortly after 6:30 am and with snowshoes and an ice ax on my pack it was much heavier than most of my hikes this year.  Less than a mile from the end of the road, I headed uphill to gain the saddle between Peak 9330 and McGowan Peak.  The first part was snow free and was not too bad.  Above 8,500' the slopes were snow covered and the ridge I was on lead directly to the summit of Peak 9330.  The snow was not terribly soft but with the high water content, it cracked often and it took longer than expected to reach the top as I had to work for every step on the steep ridge.  Luckily there were no cornices and I stayed clear of any steep drop offs.  By the time I reached the top I was beat.  I did not spend much time on the summit and dropped down to the saddle which was slow going as the snow was softening.  Once at the saddle I soon headed above the treeline.  The snow coverage was not consistent as wind action drifted snow.  I took my snowshoes on and off a few times but the snow was nice and firm.  There were a few cornices but they were easy to avoid.  I navigated through some borderline class 3 terrain but nothing too difficult.  At the top the views were spectacular of the Pahsimeroi peaks and of nearby ranges including the northern Lemhis, Pioneers, Boulders, White Clouds, and Salmon River Mountains. Mount Borah was easily visible too.  There was another summit just to the south that on the map looked possibly higher but it looked lower from the summit I was on.  Since the high point was on a cornice I decided not to go for it.  It was a little windy so I did not linger too long before heading down.  Once again I took my snowshoes on and off a few times.  The snow below 9500' was soft and I sunk in up to my knees.  Once at the treeline the crux of the hike began.  Since the snow was wet heavy, it took some effort to pry my feet free after each step.  The snow was complete mush below 9,000' and it took a while to reach the creek.  It was the most difficult downhill snowshoe I had had ever done but getting above 10,000' for the first time since November (other than the day before) made this trip worthwhile.  Once at the creek the snow was minimal and from there it was a nice walk back to my car.

Other than the snow conditions down low, it was another great day in the mountains.  I think this hike is may have been my slowest 5-mile hike too.  Perhaps I should have waited a couple more weeks but I always enjoy views of snow-covered mountains.  The Pahsimeroi area is a great area to visit at this time of year if approaching from the west except for Gooseberry Peak which would be quite difficult.  I will certainly be back to the northern Lost Rivers this spring.

Splattski's  TR:

Super Dave's TR:

John D's TR:

McGowan Peak
Peak 9330
Rock bands on McGowan
McGowan Summit
View to the east of Hope or Trinity Peak
Peak 10,620
View to the south
Lovely snow conditions on the descent

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mackay Peak

Summit: Mackay Peak - 10,300'
Date: 04/21/2018
Range: White Knobs
Distance: 5.7 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2760'

The weekend forecast was dry and warm enough to camp in the mountains so off it was towards the Lost Rivers.  Initially I was looking at doing Williams Peak in the Lost Rivers but the snow level was higher than expected so I decided to check out the White Knobs instead, one of the few high mountain ranges in Idaho that I not visited.

I ended up parking at 7600' when the road became muddy.  Unfortunately I did not research the route so I ended up following a road before deciding to gain the ridge.  For the most part the snow was decent and the only obstacle was exposed rock.  I kept my snowshoes on and followed a somewhat steep ridge for a couple of hours.  When I checked to look at the map I noticed I had already passed Mackay Peak!  Having bypassed that point I went back to climb back up to this summit.  A benchmark was there.  However the summit less than a mile away looked higher and was on the way to the road I should have taken earlier.  Other than a class 3 down climb on a small gully and going around rock outcropping the going was not bad.  At the true summit the views were great and I decided to not go for White Knob Peak about 1.5 miles away with the snow conditions.  Later on I realized I made the right choice with the soupy wet snow conditions.  Near the trailhead I passed by some old mining buildings.  I just viewed them from the road as the sign said that the land was both public and private (My guess is that the buildings are privately owned but leaded from the USFS but land is either public or private).

It turned out to be a great day in the mountains and it was nice to get over 10,000' for the first time in nearly five months.  I had reached 9,780' on Casino Peak in February but that was highest I had been all winter.  Sometime I will come back and do White Knob Peak, perhaps later this spring.

Mackay Peak from the false summit
Interesting class 3 with snowshoes
Mackay Peak
Summit Selfie
Building below the trailhead

Sunday, April 15, 2018

North Louse Peak

Summits: North Louse Peak - 6889'
Date: 04/14/2018
Range: Owyhees
Distance: 12.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,106'
Time: 7 hours

In March I set out twice to attempt Peak 6889 aka "North Louse Peak" (my unofficial name of the peak for the nearby creek) twice but both times bailed because of the road conditions.  The first time I made to the fork but worried about the mud once it thawed and the second time I got caught in a snowstorm on the way in and did Split Rock and Jordan Peak instead.  With warmer temperatures I set out to do North Louse Peak once again.

Once again the weather was sketchy with a mixture of snow as I started my hike.  Although the Silver City/Delamar Road was somewhat muddy, the forecast was favorable later in the day so I drove in over a mile past the fork.  After walking along the road I noticed the water was kind of high in Jordan Creek.  Once past private property, I attempted crossing Jordan Creek on a log about 10 feet above the river.  Unfortunately the log was a bit narrow and wet so I ended up wading through the nearly hip-deep water.  The snow had stopped and the sun came out.  After that I headed uphill to to jeep trail.  There I found a nice snowshoe laying on the road.  Eventually I made my way down to another creek before following a ridge south to Point 6957.  There was a couple of feet of snow but it was still pretty firm.  From Point 6957 I bushwhacked my way to open terrain and dropped down to 6400'  Once starting back uphill the snow had softened in the warm temperatures and sun.  For the last 450' I postholed in knee-deep snow to the summit (too bad I only found just one snowshoe earlier).  After noticing the there were quite a few trees near the summit I did not expect much of a view.  However the summit was just past the trees so the views were excellent.  Florida Mountain, China Butte, South Mountain and a couple of unnamed peaks were visible.  The Delamar Mine was also visible off the west.  Although the mine has been inactive since 1998, it was sold by Kinross to Integra Resources just a few months ago.  After postholing downhill the uphill section was kind of nice since it was on a snow-free south slope.  Once off the snow I navigated back to Jordan Creek to wade across it again.  With the temperature in the 50s it actually felt pleasant, well at least more pleasant than in the morning.  From there it was an easy walk back to my truck and I stopped to take a few pictures of the very few structures remaining in Delamar.  Most of the mining activity was to the south. 

It turned out to be another beautiful day in the Owyhee Mountains and it was nice to finally bag this peak on my third attempt (kind of like nearby Peak 7380).  I also got a spare snowshoe in case if one mine breaks.  It may be possible to drive closure to this peak than the point where I crossed Jordan Creek but all roads cross property so I am not sure if those roads are gated.

Jordan Creek

North Louse Peak

China Butte or Florida Mountain
Delamar Mine
Summit Selfie
Precarious Log that I attempted to use
Snowshoe I found
Abandoned building in Delamar

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Juniper Mountain

Summits: Juniper Mountain - 6,820'
Date: 04/08/2018
Range: Owyhees
Distance: 16.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1700'
Time: 4.5 hours

Juniper Mountain had been on my to-do list for a while and with wet weather forecasted for the central mountains and the Treasure Valley, I decided to head south.  Of all my trips to the Owyhees, I had never been this far south in the Owyhees as I had not taken Mud Flat Rd south of the North Fork crossing.

It took a little over two hours to reach the trailhead and I was in my feet shortly before nine.  Juniper Mountain itself is quite large but very gradual.  With the elevation difference only 1200' from Mud Flat Rd, I decided to jog along the road.  I am not a seasoned runner nor a long-distance runner so I took it slow.  Having jogged to the base of Shares Snout with half a pound of mud on my shoes the day before, this run was easy.  Finding the summit turned out to be anything but easy.  I took a road that headed close to where Juniper Mountain was marked on the map but it turned out to be lower than the elevation on the approach road.  The view of South Mountain and Blue Mountain was pretty good.  I bushwhacked a little ways north before making my way back to the road and thought the radio tower I passed on the way in was the high point.  It was higher on than the first summit but as I sat down to eat lunch, I noticed a small contour over 6800' about a half-mile.  After a short jog and brief bushwhack, I reached the third high point.  The third time has to be the charm right?  Already having jogged/hiked 10 miles I decided to run back.  Mostly downhill, the last five miles were easy although I took plenty of breaks for pictures (no reason to rush with the views).

Once I got back home I realized all three high points were not the true summit, it was just east of the road between the radio tower and my third high point.  On this large mountain, I will consider it close enough.  Those extra miles provided an extra workout and the grand tour of the area so I have no regrets for not doing my research ahead of time.

View of South Mountain from the road
View of Juniper Mountain from the road
Trout Spring
Radio tower on false summit

False Summit Selfie with my loose screen cover caught in the wind.
View of the north fork of the Owyhee Canyon on the drive back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring weekend in northern Nevada

Day 1
Summits: View Benchmark - 8663'
Range: Santa Rosa Mountains
Date: 03/31/2018
Distance: 10.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3761'

The week before I had set out to do two new summits but both attempts ended on the approach drive due to snowstorms including several inches right in the Valley.  Luckily this weekend was quite different and the weather was looking quite nice in parts of Idaho and Nevada.  Knowing that Santa Rosa Peak would be a bit ambitious with the snow I settled on View Benchmark.

The most gradual approach was via Tony Creek Rd and I followed the rutted road for a mile before parking.  Oddly the road became nicer later on but I did not know that until later.  After looking at View Peak, I decided to not take my snowshoes.  I followed the road for about a mile before heading uphill to gain the east ridge.  There were no obstacles.  Once on the ridge I made my way through talus and snow to the reach the summit.  The snow was soft but luckily the snow patches were short.  At the summit the views did not disappoint (pun intended) with excellent views if higher Santa Rosa peaks to the north, Bloody Run Peak to the west, and Adam Peak to the east.  Due to the wind and cloudy skies I did not stay long.  It took me a while to traverse the talus and snow and I followed the road the rest of the way back.  About a mile from where I parked, there was a small cabin and a mine shaft in disrepair.  It looks like that cabin is now home to mice and rats from all of the droppings on the window sill.

It turned out to be another nice day and my first visit to the Santa Rosa Mountains.  It will not be last visit as Santa Rosa and Granite Peaks are on my to do list.

View Peak
View to the north
Another view to the north, possibly Paradise Peak
Summit ridge

View Peak

Dilapidated mine shaft

Day 2

Summits: Deer Creek Peak - 7140' and Peak 7463'
Date: 04/01/2018
Range: Jackson Mountains
Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 4117'

After doing View Peak I decided to head over to the Jackson Mountains to attempt Deer Creek Peak and Peak 7463 as they looked like fun scrambles from my 2016 visits to the area.  I had thought about Stewart Benchmark but I was not sure if I could get close enough as most roads in the area are rough.  Deer Creek Rd was not a nice road either and I only drove in a mile.

I waited until after sunrise to get going and was on my feet by 7:45 am (mountain time).  After waking up with a migraine I was moving a bit slower than usual but hiking seemed to help.  Once I reached the northwest ridge of Deer Creek Peak, the terrain became more challenging.  I ended up navigating around a couple of impassable cliffs and going through a short but steep gully.  The last quarter mile was easy and I reached the summit around 10:00 am.  There was another summit that was just to the south that looked close in elevation too and according to my phone it was 3 feet lower than the north summit.  The views were excellent to the south.  Deer Creek Peak can also be easily approached via its northeast ridge which is class 2 but requires a longer drive in.  Peak 7463 looked impressive and quite gnarly, more like a Lost River Peak than a 7er.  Not sure if I would be able to reach the summit, I decided to forge ahead and the route to the base of the peak was easy.  Once the easy part was over, I ascended a gully before dropping off to the north side and then regaining the ridge.  Once again the terrain became impassable so I dropped down to the south side of the ridge.  I took the first gully I saw and wound up climbing up a brief class 4 headwall.  From there the terrain was class 3 and I soon reached the top.  The views were superb of the higher Jackson Mountains to the south.  On the way down I tried a different gully and it worked well to avoid the class 4 headwall.  The rest of the way back was uneventful as I took Deer Creek Rd most of the way back.  Surpringly the road improved after a few miles.

It was nice to get out camping again after 5 months.  Both the Santa Rosa and Jackson ranges are great destinations for early or late season climbing.  Both ranges have surprisingly rugged peaks for their elevation although View Peak was class 2.  I hope to get in another trip to Nevada this spring.

Parrot Peak and Peak 8369 from my campsite 
Deer Creek Peak from the north ridge
South summit of Deer Creek Peak
Jackson Mountains HP
Peak 7463
Summit of Peak 7463
Route up Peak 7463
Summit Selfie on Peak 7463
Easter Bunny (April 1st was easter)