Monday, December 3, 2018

Canyon Creek Peak

Summits: Canyon Creek Peak - 8,605'
Date: 11/11/2018
Range: Salmon River Mountains
Distance: 4.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3200'

I had higher peaks planned but after noticing the Stanley/Ketchum area received some snow I decided to stick to the pavement and do Canyon Creek Peak off of SH 21.  It was the last weekend I could park in avalanche alley for the season too.  Canyon Creek Peak is home to many of the avalanche chutes that often close SH 21 in the winter.  The parking restrictions are necessary to prevent human-triggered avalanches and to avoid stranding drivers who park before a highway closure.

The intial climb to the ridge gained about 500 or 600 feet and was very steep.  I found a few game trails to avoid bushwhacking through the brush.  I brought snowshoes but the first part of the hike had little to no snow.  Once on the ridge I followed more game trails that mostly avoided brush but there was some bushwhacking involved.  I had warmed up quickly so I put my gloves. in my pocket only to notice they were gone.  I found the first one right away but dropped 150 to 200 feet to retriebe the second one.  About halfway up the ridge I noticed some large animal tracks in the snow, likely wolf or bear tracks (or a large dog).  The ridge steepened closer to the summit and I did a little bit of optional scrambling but nothing to difficult.  Only the last couple hundred feet had knee-deep snow.  The views were excellent of the Sawtooths and Salmon River Mountains.   It looked like the Sawtooths had quite a bit more snow than the Boulders which I had visited the week before (must have not been too deep as Hyndman was practically snow-free a week later in the Pioneers).  At the summit there is a weather station operated by the Idaho Transportation Department.  Since it was cold I did not stay long and headed downhill.  After grabbing lunch I descended quickly and soon reached my truck.

It was nice to squeeze in Canyon Creek Peak before the parking restrictions otherwise it would be a 12-mile trip from Banner Summit.


View of the Sawtooths

Snow-covered rocks south of the summit

Weather Station from just below the summit.

Another view of the Weather Station

Animal Tracks

View to the south

View of the north summit

Thursday, November 22, 2018

High Peak

Summits: High Peak - 10334'
Date: 11/02/2018
Range: Boulders
Distance: 6.2 Miles
Elevation Gain: 4,085'

With another dry and mild weekend this fall, I decided to make my third day trip to the Boulders in three weeks.  After passing on High Peak (Peak 10334) for the Little Fall Creek Peaks, I decided to go for it via Lake Creek Rd to avoid a chilly stream crossing off of Trail Creek Rd.

Around 8:45 am I was on my feet and I decided to approach High Peak via its north ridge to avoid going over Rock Roll Peak (already did Rock Roll in 2016) to save elevation gain.  That strategy soon backfired as I ended up following the road too far.  I headed straight uphill knowing I would end up west of the saddle but did not realize I would top out at least 300' above the saddle.  After descending in a thin layer of snow I reached the saddle.  From there it was a steep climb to the north ridge but there were no obstacles.  Once I reached the ridge it was a relatively easy walk to the summit via the undulating ridge.  I had noticed some tracks in the snow near the summit that looked like some sort of dog tracks.  I thought to myself why would a coyote wander up this high or who would bring their dog all the way up this obscure peak?  The views were great of the Pioneers and Boulders.  I did not stay long as it was a bit nippy.  Just as I started to head down I heard some howling so the tracks were likely coyote or a small wolf.  My plan was to head back the saddle before descending to the jeep trail.  However I ended up on another ridge that was more direct but quite steep.  The route had no obstacles and I soon made it down to the road and walked past an old mine to my truck.

It was another great fall day in the Boulder Mountains and High Peak is a great early or late season peak.  In early November it can be difficult to find doable peaks above 10,000' but not this year.

Rock Roll Peak


View of Kent and Ryan Peaks

High Peak viewed from the north ridge

Mystery Mountain off in the distance

Unnamed peak west of the saddle I used for the ascent

Snow-free slopes of Rock Roll Peak at the end of the hike

Old Mine

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Little Fall Creek Peaks

Summits: Peaks 10340, 10350, and 10356
Date: 10/27/2018
Range: Boulders
Distance: 8.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 3250'

With another dry and mild weekend, I decided to head over to the Boulders again.  Originally I planned on doing Peak 10334 from Lake Creek Rd but as I arrived in the Ketchum area I realized I overestimated the amount of snow.
Instead of going for one peak I decided to go for three peaks in the Little Fall Creek drainage east of Trail Creel summit.  I drove up the road further than I should have (lots of large rocks) before finding a spot to park.  After the creek crossing, the road is essentially an ATV trail but great for walking.  I heard some rustling in the bushes along the road and spotted a cow moose.  This was the first moose I have seen and I waited until it ran off west of the road before proceeding (would rather not startle and confront an angry moose).  The road ended a little above 9,000' and a few downed trees would have stopped ATV travel before the end of the road.  Surprisingly there was only a couple inches of snow on the east slopes of Peak 10340.  The terrain was not difficult and I soon found myself on the summit.  With two peaks to go I snapped a few photos of the excellent views before heading to Peak 10356.  Peak 10356 was an easy walk up other than postholing on the way down from Peak 10340.  The views were great and I could see my next objective, Peak 10350.  Unlike the first two peaks there would be some class 3 terrain involved.  After descending the second peak I was soon at the base of Peak 10350.  At first I thought about staying on top of the ridge but it was class 4 so I dropped to the south side of the ridge.  It was great to get in some scrambling and I was soon on my third summit of the day.  There was another peak to the south but with a long drive back and some snow I decided to pass.  The views of the Pioneers and Boulders were excellent.  Mystery Peak looked like it would be an interesting scramble.  The descent was uneventful as I descended off the south ridge of Peak 10350.

It was another excellent day in the mountains and in an area I have not visited before.  All my hikes off of Trail Creek Road had been south of the road in the Pioneers.

Dan Robbins's TR from 2015:

Idaho Climbing Guide:
Peak 10340

Peak 10356

Peak 10350

Mystery Peak

Kent and Ryan Peaks

Summit of Peak 10350 and my shadow

View to the west

Gnarly ridge of Peak 10350

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Rip and Tear Peak

Summits: Rip and Tear Peak - 10,185'
Date: 10/20/2017
Range: Boulders
Distance: 5.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2600'

The forecast was unseasonably warm for October and I wanted to get above 10,000' for the first time in a few weeks.  Rip and Tear Peak has a short approach and not a lot of elevation gain making it a great choice for a day trip.

After a 3.5 hour drive, I parked just short of the trailhead when the road became rough and muddy.  Soon I reached the trailhead and followed the Gladiator Pass Trail.  Other than a brief wrong turn, I made decent time reaching Gladiator Pass.  Rip and Tear Peak's summit block looked intimidating and from a couple of trip reports it was difficult class 3.  After postholing in a patch of snow I reached the summit block.  Although loose, the class 3 section was relatively easy and soon I was at the summit.  The views were excellent of the Boulders, White Clouds, Sawtooths, and Smoky Mountains.  A lot of the west and south facing slopes had no snow including Castle Peak.  After taking in the views I descended the summit block before realizing I left my sunglasses on the summit.  I climbed back up to the summit to retrieve the sunglasses as they were a nice pair and I do not like littering in Idaho's mountains.  The descent was uneventful and I made good time reaching my truck.

The weather does not much better than this in October and I was thrilled to get in another 10k peak before the snow flies.  Rip and Tear Peak is class 3 but is not difficult if going slow.  I did nearby Mushroom Peak to the north two years ago and thought that peak was more difficult via its southwest ridge.

Summit Cairn

Rip and Tear Peak

Summit Block

 Castle Peak

Galena Peak

Gladiator Peak

Rip and Tear Peak from the trail

Rock Tower

Monday, October 29, 2018

Bald Mountain

Summits: Bald Mountain - 9,368'
Date: 10/14/2018
Range: Boise Mountains
Distance: 4.4 Miles
Elevation Gain: 1,750'

It was an unseasonably cold October day but I still wanted to get out in the high country as I did not get out the week before as I was under the weather.  Bald Mountain (one of many Bald Mountains in Idaho) seemed like a good choice as it was short and I had not been to that area.

I nearly stopped well before the trailhead because of the snow.  Luckily it was not deep and I nearly made it to the start of the Corbus Lake Trail.  Despite the snow being a couple inches deep I made good progress.  The temperature was well below freezing and the water in my camelback froze.  Luckily I had a water bottle too.  The views on top were great of Steel Mountain, the Sawtooths, and Corbus Lake.  On the way back with the sun out I was plenty warm.

It was nice to get out to a new area even though the peak was not particularly rugged.  Sometime I will have to check out Steel Mountain and the Queens River area of the Sawtooths.


Steel Mountain

Corbus Lake

Bald Mountain

McIntyre Peak

Summits: McIntyre Peak - 11,210'
Date: 09/29/2018
Range: Pioneers
Distance: 12.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,250'

With the weather forecast looking wet and cold on Sunday, I decided to do McIntyre Peak since it would be doable as a long day trip.  The standard route is short but the East Fork Road is rough so I decided to take the longer approach via Big Basin.  The Big Basin route is more gradual and looked like a scree slog.

I was on the road by 4:30 am and started hiking around 8:30 am.  I passed some folks headed for Hyndman and then caught the Big Basin Trail.  The trail climbs through some trees to 9,000' before it ends.  I continued to hike up the cirque west of McIntyre Peak where I saw the route identified in the Idaho Climbing Guide.  It was steep but mostly a boulder hop rather than a scree slog.  At the saddle I saw some movement at the summit.  I was not the only one with the idea to climb McIntyre Peak.  The ridge was class 3 but any tricky moves or exposure could easily be avoided by sticking to the east side of the ridge.  I stayed on top of the ridge to the summit and ran into a couple of older guys who had backpacked into Big Basin.  They were from Hailey and we discussed peaks in the Pioneers.  I showed them my route up The Box and realized how steep it was.  They gained the ridge north of where I did and mentionedit was a scree slog.  Not long after they headed down, I started to head back.  If I did not have to drive back I would have gone for Jacqueline Peak as it is doable by dropping off the east side of the ridge.  That is the downside of a long day trip.  The two guys headed back the same way they came up and they ran into another group who were headed uphill.  Later on I noticed the folks heading up were going for Big Basin Peak to the north.  I did Big Basin Peak in July 2017 from the east ridge.  On they way out I ran into the group that headed for Hyndman but they turned around just before the saddle.  I made good time reaching my truck and was home before dark.

It was great to get in a late season 11er and McIntyre would be my final 11er for the season.  Any 11ers I have not done yet are either too long of a drive for a day trip or would require a northern or eastern approach, which makes for a long snow slog.  I just have five 11ers remaining in the Pioneers: Recess Peak, Jacqueline Peak, The Ramp, Atlas Peak, and Big Black Dome.  Although I like my solitude, it was nice to run into a couple people at the summit on an obscure peak, the second time this month as I shared the summit with a trail runner on the Devils Bedstead West.

Summit Cairn

The Box

Hazy view of Jacqueline Peak

View from the saddle of McIntyre Peak

View from just below the summit

Summit Selfie

Monday, October 22, 2018

Whie Cloud Peaks 1 and 3

Summits: WCP-1 - 10353' and WCP-3 - 10588'
Date: 09/24/2018
Range: White Clouds
Distance: 8.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 4240'

After doing Hope Peak for the fall outing, I was discussing ideas with Dan, Margo, and JJ.  The outing was nice and the hike up Hope Peak was easy.  The views were great and it was nice to have a view in that atea after clouds obscured my view from Trinity Peak back in May.  There was a peak just south of Hope Peak, Peak 10,340 that could be accessed from Christian Gulch but it has no known ascents and looked potentially technical so I decided to head over to the Slate Creek area of the White Clouds to do WCP-3.  It was not far out of the way if going back through Stanley.

With cloud cover the morning temperatures were relatively mild but rain/snow were in the forecast so I was on my feet at 7:10 am just as it was getting light.  I walked past the mine and hot springs before taking the trail to Hoodoo Lake.  From Hoodoo Lake I aimed for the saddle between WCP-3 and WCP-1.  The traverse looked doable so I decided to go for both peaks if the weather held.  As I reached the saddle, the wind picked up a bit and it started to snow.  While clouds shrouded my view a bit from the summit of WCP-3, they were not too bad.  Caulkens, WCP-9, and WCP-5 were easily visible to the south and WCP-2 is just to the west.  That traverse looked like it might have class 4 or 5 terrain.  As I descended to the saddle, the weather cleared up.  The south ridge of WCP-1 turned out to be a fun class 3 scramble, a much nicer route than the standard scree-filled class 2 route up the southeast face.  The views were excellent of the surrounding White Cloud Peaks and Sawtooths.  On the descent I took the southeast slopes of WCP-1 for a quick descent and eventually reached Hoodoo Lake where I stopped for lunch.  Other than spotting a hiker in the distance, the only other people on the trail or at the hot springs.  Apparently the hot springs are clothing optional so I was glad to avoid stumbling upon some unsightly views.

It was great to get out to the White Clouds as I have not done many peaks in that range.  Nearly all of the White Cloud 11ers are best done as a backpacking trip which is why I have only done two of them (Castle and Lonesome Lake Peaks) since I typically just have time for a one-night trip.  Next year I hope to spend a few nights in the Boulder Chain Lakes and tag a few peaks.



Swimm Lake with a peak behind it


Summit Cairn on WCP-3

Summit Selfie on WCP-3

View of WCP-5 and the peak behind it

Old Mining Building

Hoodoo Lake
Fall Outing on Hope Peak