Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Peak 9127

Summits: Peak 9127
Date: 05/18/2019
Range: Sawtooths
Distance: 12.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2830'

I decided to do a day trip instead of a camping trip due to the wet and cold weather forecasted for the weekend.  Now that I have time to camp the weather takes a turn for the worse.  My original target was Peak 9300 west of McGown Peak above Hanson Lakes.

I started hiking about a quarter to 9:00 am and the first mile was snow free.  After a mile the trail was mostly snow covered but somewhat firm and slightly packed down by other hikers.  Stanley Lake Road must have just opened as only a few people signed in the wilderness log book.  A few miles in I reached a stream crossing and attempted to use a log to avoid getting wet.  It did not work as I slipped and fell in waist deep water.  I noticed my pants had ripped too (good thing I had shorts underneath).  I waded across the stream in close to knee deep water.  Luckily I did not get my upper body wet.  It took a while to restore feeling in my feet.  After making my way through the snow on the trail I crossed another stream via a snow bridge from avalanche debris and headed uphill.  I knew there was a trail somewhere leading to Hanson Lakes but I never saw it due to the snow.  It was a steep slog through the snow and I ended up on a ridgeline south of Hanson Lakes.  There was an impressive rock tower that I thought was Peak 9300.  I then noticed another peak on my left which was Peak 9127.  Being closer to that peak, I headed for its northeast ridge which was the only viable route as the ridge was heavily corniced.  Peak 9300 was also nearby and was not technical but slightly farther away.  It was already past 12:30 so I decided to just do Peak 9127.  Luckily I was able to go around the cornices by sidehilling in steep snow.  At the summit the views were spectacular and the sun came out.  McGown Peak was just to the east and I could also see Mount Regan (attempted three times) and numerous other Sawtooth peaks.  With a nearly a 6.5 mile trek through the snow remaining, I did not linger long at the summit.  Getting off the peak was slow going as it was very steep.  Once off the peak I grabbed lunch and then headed downhill back to the trail.  My left snowshoe is partially broken and in the softening snow the traction was not good.  I took off my snowshoes and made better progress.  At the stream crossing I waded through it and it did not feel that cold until my feet went numb shortly afterwards hiking in the snow.  Closer to the trailhead I saw a couple of hikers and a runner, the only people I saw all day, a rarity in the Sawtooths.

Although on the chilly side, the weather held up for the whole hike and the scenery was well worth the effort.  It was a great time to visit the Sawtooths before it gets too crowded.

Peak 9300
Unnamed rugged point above Hanson Lakes

Peak 9127

Cornices on the ridge

Cornices and loose wet slides

McGown Peak from the summit of Peak 9127

McGown Peak from the trailhead

Summit Selfie

Monday, May 20, 2019

Peak 7660

Summits: Peak 7660
Date: 05/12/2019
Range: Salmon River Mountains
Distance: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 3500'

Once again it was a beautiful weekend where I would love to camp and do a Lost River Peak but moving (all of 8.5 miles) kept me closer to home.  Last year at this time I had my hiking accident on Silver Creek Summit and wound up with stitches, bloody face and a broken hand (http://adventuresinthehighcountryofidaho.blogspot.com/2018/05/silver-creek-rock-attempt.html).  I wanted to get back to that area and decided on Peak 7660, my original target last year before I wound up closer to Peak 6985.

I did not quite make it to the trailhead due to snow and parked a mile back.  There was quite a bit of snow on the Silver Creek Summit trail.  After looking at the route between Peak 6985 and Peak 7660, I decided to leave the trail it climbs uphill and headed straight up a ridge to the saddle.  It was steep and brushy before I ended up on some granite slabs.  Luckily the granite was not too steep and I had excellent views of Peak 6985.  Had I seen what the peak looked like last year, maybe I would have turned around but it was not a clear day.  Close to the saddle I hit snow but it was firm despite the warm temps.  After looking at the saddle I was doubtful that I would reach the summit as it looked technical.  However I proceeded ahead and went up and down through two or three gullies between granite towers before finally reaching the summit block.  What I had thought was the summit earlier was a false summit below 7500'.  The summit appeared to be a granite slab as it looked higher than a point just to the east.  I figured I would be able to carefully walk up the slab to the summit from its south side as it was not terribly steep.  It worked and I avoided making a tradition of falling off granite on Mothers Day.  The views were excellent of the surrounding Salmon River Mountains.  Other than Peak 6985 I was not sure what other peaks I was looking at as I am not familiar with the area.  My phone had the east summit listed as being 7 feet higher but I think the granite slab is the true summit.  The descent of Peak 7660 was slow going and brushy back to the trail.  I took the Long Fork Trail back to make a loop of the hike.  The snow-covered trail was difficult to follow and crossed the Long Fork twice.  I did not cross the stream as it was high and regained the trail.  Once below the snow I jogged back to my truck.

It was a great hike and Peak 7660 is an interesting summit.  The granite towers and slabs make this area a great hiking/climbing destination.  This fall or next year I would like to try Peak 6985 with a rope and a couple of partners.

Peak 6985
False Summit

View to the northeast

Another shot of the false summit

Actual Summit

Lower East Summit

Granite Tower

View to the south

Another granite tower

Selfie just below the summit

https://youtu.be/2S0MR41qQ3s - Video link from the summit

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cup Peak

Summits: Cup Peak - 9147'
Date: 05/05/2019
Range: Smoky Mountains
Distance: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,930'

The weekend was unseasonably warm and dry but preparing to move to a new apartment kept me from doing taller peaks.  After doing Beaver Peak the week before I knew the washout was fixed so I decided to do Cup Peak north of Buttercup Mountain.

I decided to approach Cup Peak from Buttercup Road instead of the trail from the end of Willow Creek Road as it was shorter and more likely to have less snow.  I made it through two small washouts before snow stopped me about 3/4 of a mile in.  Even if I had made it through the snow the road was completely washed out not far ahead.  Initially gaining the ridge was steep before it leveled out.  It was a steady climb up the ridge all the way to the saddle between Cup Peak and Buttercup Mountain.  There was a class 2/3 section that was kind of interesting.  I did not hit snow until 8000' and it was intermittent.  From the saddle, the route was mostly snow covered but I never did put on my snowshoes.  A jeep trail exists on the saddle whi ch made for a nice path.  The views from the summit were excellent with the Smoky, Pioneer, Soldier, and Boulder ranges all in view.  I also had a nice view of Buttercup Mountain.  The snow held firm on the descent and I found a slightly more gradual route off the ridge back to the road.

It was nice to get out to the mountains despite not having a lot of time.  Although not rugged, Cup Peak was definitely worth the effort for its nice views.

Class 2/3 Section

Cup Peak

View of the Pioneers

Old post at the summit

Summit with a view to the east

Buttercup Mountain

View of the Soldier Mountains

Summit Selfie

Three Forks Dome

Summits: Three Forks Dome - 4755'
Date: 04/27/2019
Range: Owyhees
State: Oregon
Distance: 7.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2170'

I had been to the Three Forks area back in 2015 with a hiking group and I remembered checking out the canyon and hot springs.  Three Forks Dome looked interesting from photos and Google Earth so I decided to check it out on one of the few dry weekends this spring.

After a lot of driving on dirt roads I finally arrived at the trailhead which was at a creek crossing.  I could have gone through but decided I wanted the excercise.  Instead of following the road which crossed through private land, I headed straight for the east side of Three Forks Dome.  There was a herd of cattle about 50 yards in front of me which is not uncommon so I proceeded to head towards them until I noticed a bull.  Since I had no desire to participate in my own version of running with the bulls, I decided to deviate from my direct route to avoid it.  Eventually I reached the southeast side of Three Forks Dome.  It looked steeper than the south side but I decided to go for it.  A few spots were somewhat exposed and brushy but my route worked.  At the summit the views were excellent of the Owyhee River and the canyon.  Some of the best views were off the summit near the edge of the dome.  After wandering around Three Forks Dome I made my back to the road via the south side of Three Forks Dome and headed up a hill to the south where I had nice views of the canyon.  Despite Three Forks being off the beaten path, there were quite a few campers in the area.  The road was obviously not posted so I took it back to my truck.  Once again I saw the bull but it was in the distance so I stayed on the road.

It was nice to get back to the Three Forks area to view the canyon and to check out Three Forks Dome.  It was my second trip to an Owyhee canyon in two weeks as I had visted Bald Mountain and Perjue Canyon a week earlier.

View from just below the summit

Three Forks Dome

West side of the summit area

Three Forks Canyon

Summit Selfie
Another view of the canyon

Buttercup Mountain

Summits: Buttercup Mountain - 9079' and Peak 6510
Date: 04/21/2019
Range: Smokies
Distance: 8.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 4260'

I was looking for another peak to snowshoe and I had noticed that I could access a few peaks off of Willow Creek Road east of Fairfield.  Buttercup Mountain was my first choice and Beaver Peak was my backup in case if I could not get in as far on the road due to snow.

The road had a road closed on the side of the road but I decided to proceed anyways since it was dry.  I thought I would be able to reach the junction with the road that led to the mines below Buttercup Mountain but a small washout stopped me a mile before it.  It was a steep climb to gain the ridge, about 900' with some ups and downs.  Then I had to drop a few hundred feet from what turned out to be Peak 6580.  The snow was off and on until about 7100 when I put on my snowshoes.  The ridge steepened signicantly and it took a while to reach the false summit in the softening snow.  Looking down off the false summit I noticed a decent sized cornice so I stayed just off the ridge top.  After 4.5 hours in the softening snow I finally reached the summit where I had excellent views of the fog. However I was still able to view a few peaks.  On the descent it started to rain and the snow essentially became mush.  I kept my snowshoes on for most of the descent to about 6500'.  After debating whether to take the road by the mines I decided to go back the way I came except for taking a more direct line off of Peak 6580.  There is some private property along the road (probably from the old mines) and I was not sure if it was posted.  Shortly after reaching my truck the rain stopped and I took another look at the washout.  I definitely made the right call.

It was great to get out to the Fairfield area and a nice workout to train for taller peaks.  Although the views from the summit were not great due to the weather, I would make two more trips to Willow Creek Road over the next two weekends.  The washout was repaired the following week.

Summit Cairn

View of Buttercup Mountain

Southeast ridge of Buttercup Mountain

View of Cup Peak to the north

View to the east
Summit Selfie

Washout on Willow Creek Road

Buttercup Mount viewed a week later from my trip to Beaver Peak

Monday, April 29, 2019

Peak 8762 and Peak 8477

Summits: Peaks 8762 and 8477
Date: 04/14/2019
Range: Salmon River Mountains
Distance: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,930'

With a dry sunny day forecasted during this wet spring, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather with another snowshoe near Banner Summit.  In January of 2018 I attempted Peak 8477 but headed uphill too early and ended up turning around due to avalanche risk.  This time I idenified a potential route leading to the saddle of the two peaks.

After snowshoeing on Bear Valley Road I found the drainage that I planned to use.  The creek was deeper than expected but I eventually found a snow bridge.  Initially the going was quite steep but as I neared the ridgeline the terrain became more gradual.  Since the route to Peak 8477 looked steeper, I decided to head for Peak 8762 first and then tag Peak 8477 from the saddle.  That plan worked out well and it was a relatively easy snowshoe to the top of Peak 8762.  The views were superb of the surrounding Salmon River Mountains and Sawtooths.  After taking in the views I headed back to the saddle which was about 600' below Peak 8477.  The steep climb up the softening snow was tiring but eventually I reached the summit.  At the summit the views were not as good due to tree cover but the route itself had nice views of Bull Trout Point and Peak 8762.  On the descent the snow was a bit slurpy as I neared the road.  Once I was back at the road it was an easy walk back to my truck.  Several snowmobiles passedpassed me on the road.

It turned out to be a very pleasant snowshoe and I was not as exhausted as I was two weeks earlier on Peak 8410.  Slowly I am getting back in shape after that nasty hamstring injury.

Peak 8762

View of Bull Trout Point from Peak 8477

View of the Sawtooths from the summit of Peak 8762

Peak 8477 from the trailhead

Loose wet slide near the road

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Peak 8410

Summit: Peak 8410
Date: 03/31/2019
Range: Salmon River Mountains
Distance: 11 miles
Elevation Gain: 2200'

This past winter I dealt with a nasty hamstring injury and it kept me out of action for way too long.  By the time I was healthy enough to snowshoe a massive avalanche hit SH-21 which closed the road for a few weeks.  With a nice day I decided to head out to Banner Summit and attempt Peak 8020 or Peak 8410.  Peak 8020 would a shorter snowshoe but steeper so I decided to play it by ear.

After parking at the pullout next to Bull Trout Lake Road, I followed a snowmobile track for over a mile.  I thought there would be a snowmobile track to the campground but I was wrong.  After viewing Peak 8020 it looked steep and since I had plenty of time, I headed southwest up the ridge towards Peak 8410.  The first part was somewhat steep or at least felt like it since I am out of shape.  Once on the ridge the slope leveled out but the snow had softened.  Breaking trail in the softening snow for close to five miles was tiring and I was beat by the time I reached the summit.  The views were excellent of the Sawtooths and the Salmon River Mountains.  I took my time on the descent and there were quite a few ups and downs.  Luckily I had already broken trail so the going was much easier.  Once I hit the snowmobile track I took off my snoweshoes and made a beeline for my truck.

It had been far too long since I had been snowshoeing and it was great to be back in the mountains.  Since the snowshoe took 8 hours, I realized I was way out of shape from my hamstring injury.   The next week I did Gerdie Hill in the Owyhees as a good training hike.  My route gained 1800' in one mile.


Spring Peak

View towards the Sawtooths

Cornices on the ridgeline

Copper Mountain

Peak 8410

Cabin or outhouse at the Bull Trout Campground

Barely visible stop sign for snowmobiles